Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Highlanders of Scotland
Appendix to Part II

AS the simple conclusion to which we have arrived, after the investigation contained in this Work, both as to the origin of the Highlanders generally and of the Highland clans in particular, is, that the whole Highland clans are, with very few exceptions, descended from one Gaelic nation, who have inhabited the same country from time immemorial, – it follows that the plan of this Work must exclude all those families to whom a long residence in the country have given the name of Highlanders, but who are not of Gaelic origin. But as these families are not very numerous, it will be proper, in order to complete this sketch of the Highlanders, that we should shortly state, in an Appendix, the reasons for considering them of foreign origin. There are, perhaps, few countries into which the introduction of strangers is received with less favour than the Highlands of Scotland. So strongly were the Highlanders themselves imbued with an hereditary repugnance to the settlement of foreigners among them, that assisted as that prejudice was by the almost impenetrable nature of their country, such an occurrence must originally have been nearly impossible, and at all times exceedingly difficult. In this respect, however, the extinction of the ancient earls or maormors produced some change. Norman and Saxon barons, by the operation of the principles of feudal succession, acquired a nominal possession of many of the great Highland districts, and were prepared to seize every favourable opportunity to convert that nominal possession to an actual occupation of the country; and although their influence was not great enough to enable them materially to affect the population of the interior of their respective districts, yet, under their protection, many of the foreign families might obtain a footing in those parts which more immediately bordered on the Lowlands. It is accordingly the eastern and southern boundary of the Highlands which would naturally become exposed to the encroachment of the Lowlanders and their barons, and in which we might expect to find clans which are not of pure Gaelic origin. The first of these clans is that of the


      In the present state of our information regarding the Stewarts, the question of their origin seems to have been at length set at rest, and until the discovery of new documents shall unsettle this decision, there seems no reason to doubt that they are a branch of the Norman family of Fitzallan. The proofs which have been brought forward in support of this conclusion are too demonstrative to be overcome by the authority of tradition alone, however ancient that tradition may be, and until some important additional information be discovered, we must look upon the fabled descent of the Stewarts from the thanes of Lochaber, and consequently their native origin, as altogether visionary.

      The whole of the Scottish Stewarts can be traced to Renfrewshire as their first seat, but still, in consequence of the great extent of territory acquired by this family all over Scotland, a considerable number of them penetrated into the Highlands, and the amount of the Highland families of the name became in time considerable. Those families of the name who are found established in the Highlands in later times are derived from three sources, the Stewarts of Lorn, Atholl, and Balquidder.

      The Stewarts of Lorn are descended from a natural son of John Stewart, the last lord of Lorn, who by the assistance of the Maclarins, a clan to whom his mother belonged, retained forcible possession of a part of his father’s estates; and of this family are the Stewarts of Appen, Invernahyle, Fasnacloich, & c. Besides the descendants of the natural son of the last lord of Lorn, the family of the Stewart of Grandtully in Atholl is also descended from this family, deriving their origin from Alexander Stewart, fourth son of John, lord of Lorn.

      The Stewarts of Atholl consist almost entirely of the descendants of the natural children of Alexander Stewart, commonly called the “Wolf of Badenoch”; of these the principal family was that of Stewart of Garth, descended from James Stewart, one of the Wolfe of Badenoch’s natural sons, who obtained a footing in Atholl by marrying the daughter and heiress of Menzies of Fothergill, or Fortingall, and from this family almost all the other Atholl Stewarts proceed.

      The Balquidder Stewarts are entirely composed of the illegitimate branches of the Albany family. The principal families were those of Ardvorlich, Glenbucky, and others.


      The original name of this family was Meyners, and they appear to be of Lowland origin. Their arms and the resemblance of name distinctly point them out to be a branch of the English family of Manners, and consequently their Norman origin is undoubted. They appear, however, to have obtained a footing in Atholl at a very early period, although it is not now possible to ascertain by what means the acquisition was obtained. Robert de Mayners grants a charter of the lands of Culdares in Fortingall to Matthew de Moncrief as early as the reign of Alexander II. His son Alexander de Mayners was certainly in possession of the lands of Weem, Aberfeldie, and Glendochart, in Atholl, besides his original possessions of Durrisdeer in Nithsdale. He was succeeded in the estates of Weem, Aberfeldie and Durrisdeer, by his eldest son Robert, while his younger son, Thomas, obtained the lands of Fothergill.

      From the eldest son the present family of Menzies of Menzies is descended; but the family of Menzies of Fothergill became extinct in the third generation, and the property was transferred to the family of Stewart in consequence of the marriage of James Stewart, natural son of the Wolfe of Badenoch, with the heiress.


      Of the Norman origin of the family of the Frasers it is impossible for a moment to entertain any doubt. They appear during the first few generations uniformly in that quarter of Scotland which is south of the Firths of Forth and Clyde; and they possessed at a very early period extensive estates in the counties of East Lothian and of Tweeddale; besides this, the name of Frisale, which is its ancient form, appears in the roll of Battle Abbey, thus placing the Norman character of their origin beyond a doubt.

      Down to the reign of Robert the Bruce the Frasers appear to have remained in the southern counties, but during his reign they began to spread northward, penetrating into Mearns and Aberdeenshire, and finally into Inverness-shire. sir Andrew Fraser appears to have acquired extensive territories in the North by marriage with the heiress of a family of considerable consequence in Caithness; but he still possessed property in the South, as he appears under the title of Dominus de Touch, in the county of Stirling. Simon Fraser was the first of the family of Lovat. By marriage with Margaret daughter of John, earl of Orkney and Caithness, he obtained a footing in the North. On the death of Magnus, the last earl of this line, he unsuccessfully contested the succession with the earl of Strathearne, but at the same time he acquired the property of Lovat, which descended to his wife through her mother, the daughter and heiress of Graham of Lovat. His son Hugh is the first of this family who appears on record in possession of Lovat and the Aird. On the 11th September, 1367, Hugh Fraser, “Dominus de Loveth et portionarius terrarum de Aird,” does homage to the bishop of Moray for his part of the half daviach land of Kintallergy and Esser and fishings of Form. After this he occurs frequently under the title of “Dominus de Loveth,” and this Hugh Fraser, Dominus de Loveth, is the undisputed ancestor of the modern Frasers of Lovat, while of their connections with the Southern Frasers, and also of their consequent Norman origin, there can be no doubt whatever.


      Few families have asserted their right to be considered as a Gaelic clan with greater vehemence than the Chisholms, notwithstanding that there are perhaps few whose Lowland origin is less doubtful. Hitherto no one has investigated their history; but their early charters suffice to establish the real origin of the family with great clearness. The Highland possessions of the family consist of comer, Strathglass, & c., in which is situated their castle of Erchless, and the manner in which they acquired these lands is proved by the fact that there exists a confirmation of an indenture betwixt William de Fenton of Baky on the one part, and “Margaret de la Ard domina de Erchless and Thomas de Chiselme her son and heir” on the other part, dividing between them the lands of which they were heirs portioners, and among these lands is the barony of the Ard in Inverness-shire. This deed is dated at Kinrossy, 25th of April, 1403.

      In all probability, therefore, the husband of Margaret must have been Alexander de Chiselme, who is mentioned in 1368 as comportioner of the barony of Ard along with lord Fenton.

      The name of Chisholm does not occur in Battle Abbey Roll, so there is no distinct authority to prove that the family was actually of Norman origin, but these documents above cited distinctly shew that the name was introduced into the Highlands from the low country. Their original seat was in all probability in Roxburgshire, as we find the only person of the name who signs Ragman’s Roll is “Richard de Chesehelm del county de Roxburg,” and in this county the family of Chisholm still remains. Their situation, therefore, together with the character of the name itself, seems with sufficient clearness to indicate a Norman origin.

      The four families whose origin we have here investigated, although cursorily, complete the number of clans whose foreign origin can be established with any degree of certainty; and whether we consider the small number of these families, or their situation on the borders of the Highlands, we cannot but be struck with the small impression which the predominating influence of the Saxons and Normans in the Highlands, and the continued encroachments of the Lowland barons, both of such lengthened endurance, produced upon the population of the aboriginal Gael. This is a fact which can only be accounted for by the rooted and unalterable hatred which the Gael have always exhibited to the introduction among them or settlement of strangers, and which perhaps more than any other cause led to those interminable feuds by which the Highlands of Scotland were so long and grievously distracted.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus