Clan Cameron

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Clan Cameron
File:Clan member crest badge - Clan Cameron.svg
Crest: (old): A dexter arm embowed in armour, the hand grasping a sword, all proper, encircled by a belt and buckle.[1]
(current): A sheaf of five arrows, proper, tied with a band, gules, encircled by a belt and buckle.[1]
Motto (old): Mo Righ 's Mo Dhuchaich (For King and Country).[1]
(current): Aonaibh Ri Chéile (Let Us Unite).[1]
War cry Chlanna nan con thigibh a so's gheibh sibh feoil (Sons Of The Hounds, Come Hither And Get Flesh)[2]
Region Highlands
District Lochaber
Plant badge crowberry, or oak
File:Cameron of Lochiel coat of arms.svg
Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel
The 27th Chief of Clan Cameron (Mac Dhomnuill Dubh)
Seat Achnacarry Castle[3]
Historic seat Tor Castle[3]

Clan Cameron is a West Highland Scottish clan, with one main branch Lochiel, and numerous cadet branches. The Clan Cameron lands are in Lochaber and within their lands lies Ben Nevis which is the highest mountain in the British Isles.[4] The Chief of the clan is customarily referred to as simply "Lochiel".[5]



The origins of Clan Cameron are uncertain and there are several theories. A manuscript of the clan says that it is old tradition that the Camerons were originally descended from the son of the royal family of Denmark who assisted the restoration of King Fergus II of Scotland, and that their progenitor was called Cameron from his crooked nose (Scottish Gaelic: cam-shròn, Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [ˈkʰaməhɾoːn̪ˠ]) – such nicknames were and are common in Gaelic culture, and that his dependants then adopted the name.[5][6] However the Collins Scottish Clan Encyclopedia states that a more likely origin is that Donal Dubh, the first chief of Clan Cameron was descended either from the Macgillonies or the mediaeval family of Cameron of Ballegarno in Fife.[7]

According to John Mair, the Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation shared a common origin and together followed one chief, but this statement has no foundation or evidence to support it. Allen surnamed MacOrchtry the son of Uchtred is mentioned by tradition as the chief of Camerons during the reign of King Robert II of Scotland and, according to the same source, the Camerons and Chattan Confederation were two rival, hostile tribes.[5][6]

Sometime around the beginning of the 15th century (or possibly earlier) the Camerons established themselves as a Highland clan in the western end of the Great Glen in Lochaber.[8] It is likely they did so through the marriage of a local heiress of the Mael-anfhaidh kindred (Clan Mael-anfaidh, which Moncreiffe translates as "children of He who was Dedicated to the Storm").[8] The Collins Scottish Clan Encyclopedia states that the heiress was from the MacMartin of Letterfinlay family.[7] By the 15th century, after the Mael-anfhaidh chiefship had passed into the Cameron family, the local families of MacMartin of Letterfinlay, MacGillonie of Strone and MacSorley of Glen Nevis were absorbed within the incoming Clan Cameron.[8] In consequence, the early chiefs of the Highland Camerons were sometimes styled "MacGillonay".[8] Since the 15th century though, Clan Cameron chiefs have been more commonly styled Mac Dhomnuill Dubh, in reference to the first Cameron chief whom succession can be traced.[8] Donald Dubh was the first "authentic" chief or captain of this confederation of tribes which gradually became known as the Clan Cameron,[7] taking the name of their captain as the generic name of the whole, until the clan was first officially recognized by that name in a charter of 1472.[4][5]

Wars of Scottish Independence

According to tradition, during the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Clan Cameron fought for King Robert the Bruce, led by Chief VII John de Cameron against the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and later led by Chief VIII John de Cameron at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.[5]

14th century and clan conflicts

It was in the time of chief Alan Macdonald Dubh Cameron, 12th chief of Clan Cameron that a feud began with the Clan Mackintosh that continued sporadically for about 300 years.[7] One of the first battles was the Battle of Drumlui in 1337 in which a dispute arose between the Clan Mackintosh and Clan Cameron over land at Glenlui and Loch Arkaig.[9] The Battle of Invernahoven was fought in 1370 between the Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation of Clan Mackintosh, Clan Macpherson and Clan Davidson.[5][10] The Battle of the North Inch was fought in 1396 between the Clan Cameron and Chattan Confederation, and it is one of the most well known battles between these two clans.[5][11]

15th century and clan conflicts

File:Cameron (R. R. McIan).jpg
A Victorian era, romanticised depiction of a member of the clan by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845.

In 1411 the Clan Cameron fought at the Battle of Harlaw near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire in support of Domhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles, chief of Clan Donald who claimed the title of Earl of Ross. Their enemy was Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany.[5][12] The Camerons also fought at the Battle of Lochaber in 1429, between forces led by Alexander of Islay, Earl of Ross, 3rd Lord of the Isles and the royalist army of King James I of Scotland.[5][13] Another battle with Clan Mackintosh and their Chattan Confederation was the Battle of Palm Sunday in 1429.[5][14]

In 1431 the Clan Cameron fought at the Battle of Inverlochy (1431) against the Clan Donald whose chief Alexander of Islay, Earl of Ross had been imprisoned by the king. The MacDonalds were then led by Alexander's nephew, Donald Balloch MacDonald who defeated the royalist army led by the Earl of Mar.[5][15] In 1439 the Clan Cameron fought against the Clan Maclean at the Battle of Corpach.[5][16]

In 1441 another battle with the Mackintoshes, the Battle of Craig Cailloc, was fought.[5][14] In 1472 Alan MacDonald Dubh, 12th Chief of the Clan Cameron was made constable of Strome Castle on behalf of the Clan MacDonald of Lochalsh. He was later killed in battle in 1480 fighting the Mackintoshes and MacDonalds of Keppoch.[5] In 1491 the Clan Cameron took part in the Raid on Ross.[5][17]

16th century and clan conflicts

In 1505 the Battle of Achnashellach is said to have taken place between the Camerons against the Clan Munro and the Clan Mackay[5][18] During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the Clan Cameron chief, Ewen Cameron and a portion of his men survived fighting against the English army at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.[5][19]

In 1544, Clan Cameron provided archers who sided with Clan MacDonald of Clan Ranald at the Battle of the Shirts in 1544, against Clan Fraser. Legend has it that only five Frasers and eight MacDonalds survived. The Camerons subsequently carried out successful raids upon the Clan Grant and Clan Fraser lands, which were incredibly rich and fertile to the Lochaber men. Owing to his role in this conflict Ewen Cameron fell into disfavour with the Earl of Huntly, Chief of Clan Gordon and Lieutenant of the North. Chief Ewen Cameron would be executed as a result of this battle and other actions at Elgin in 1547.[5][20]

The Battle of Bun Garbhain was fought in 1570 when Donald Dubh Cameron, XV Chief of Clan Cameron, had died, leaving an infant son, Allan, at the head of the clan. During the battle the Chief of MacKintosh is believed to have been killed by Donald 'Taillear Dubh na Tuaighe' Cameron, (son of the XIV Chief of Clan Cameron), with a fearsome Lochaber axe.[5][21]

In 1594 Allen Cameron, XVI Chief of Clan Cameron led the clan at the Battle of Glenlivet in support of George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, Chief of Clan Gordon who defeated the forces of Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell.[5][22]

17th century and Civil War

During the Civil War at the Battle of Inverlochy 1645, Clan Cameron fought on the side of the Royalist Scots and Irish who defeated the Scottish Covenanters of Clan Campbell.[5] The clan continued to oppose Oliver Cromwell, and played a leading role in the Royalist rising of 1651 to 1654.[5]

The Stand-off at the Fords of Arkaig 1665 – a stand off without bloodshed that saw the Camerons finally end their 328-year feud with the Chattan Confederation, led by the Clan Mackintosh.[23]

The Battle of Maol Ruadh (Mulroy), 1668 – Sir Ewen Cameron, XVII Chief of Clan Cameron was responsible for keeping the peace between his men and Clan Mackintosh. However when he was away in London a feud broke out between Clan MacDonald and their enemies Clan Mackintosh and Clan Mackenzie. As Sir Ewen was away he was not able to hold back his clan, and they made a minor contribution to the MacDonald victory over the Mackintoshes and Mackenzies at Maol Ruadh east of Spean Bridge.[5][24]

The Clan Cameron fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie July 1689,[7][25] the Battle of Dunkeld August 1689[26] and the Battle of Cromdale May 1690.[27]

18th century and Jacobite risings

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the Clan Cameron supported the Jacobite cause fighting on their side at the Battle of Sheriffmuir.[28] They later fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719. The 18th Chief John Cameron of Lochiel, after hiding for a time in the Scottish Highlands, made his way back to exile in France.[5]

When Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in August 1745 he was met by the Lochiel, 19th Clan Chief, who pledged his Clan's full support.[7] The Jacobite rising of 1745 might never had happened if Lochiel had not come out with his clan.[7] The Clan Cameron fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Prestonpans (1745), Battle of Falkirk (1746), and on the frontline at the Battle of Culloden (6 April 1746). After the Battle of Culloden, Donald Cameron of Lochiel, also known as Gentle Lochiel, took refuge in France, where he died in October 1748.[5]

The MacMartins, a sept of Clan Cameron, are said to have been amongst the most loyal and valuable followers of Lochiel. In the 1745 Jacobite rising, the MacMartins were "out with" Lochiel's regiment.[29]

The 79th (The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was raised from among the members of the clan in 1793 by Sir Alan Cameron of Erracht (1753–1828).[5]

Colonel John Cameron was another distinguished military commander, whose family became baronets.

19th and 20th centuries

Highland Clearances

After Culloden Clan Cameron's land was forfeited and reverted to the government. In 1784 it was returned to Donald Cameron 22nd of Lochiel, grandson of the "Gentle Lochiel", who was only 15 at the time.[30] The land was managed by a trust until 1819, when Donald Cameron succeeded to his inheritance. The first clearance took place in 1801 at Clunes. Major emigrations, notably to Canada, began in 1802. The clearances continued under the name of Donald Cameron 22nd of Lochiel when he took over from the Trust in 1819.[31]

The Clan Cameron Museum at Achnacarry has an excellent display of Cameron history including a fair, balanced account of the Cameron clearances.[32] The library also has copies of the books referenced in this section.

Some traditional Cameron land, on the eastern side of Loch Lochy, was not returned in 1784. In 1770 control had passed to the Duke of Gordon who proceeded to raise rents and clear the land with the aid of his Factor, the Revd John Anderson. The Duke's clearances from the Lochaber Estate through the good works of his loyal and reverend factotum went on until 1806.[33]

Many Camerons around the world will trace their origins to these unfortunate people cleared from their traditional land during this sad period of Scottish history.[34]

Napoleonic Wars

During the Napoleonic Wars Donald Cameron the XXIII Chief fought with distinction at the Battle of Waterloo with the Grenadier Guards in 1815. He retired in 1832. Later that same year he married Lady Vere, daughter of Hon George Vere Hobart and sister of the 6th Earl of Buckinghamshire. Lady Vere Hobart was descended from the Camerons of Glenderrary.[5]

World War One

During World War I the XXV Chief of Clan Cameron raised four additional battalions of the Cameron Highlanders and in 1934 he was appointed a Knight of the Thistle.[5]

World War Two

Notably, the Cameron Highlanders were the last battalions that wore the kilt in battle, due to the purposeful delaying of orders by commanding officers in the battalions (no one wanted to give up the kilt) and a surprise attack by the Germans (successfully repelled). For this they earned the nickname of 'Ladies from Hell'.[5]

Sir Donald Cameron 26th of Lochiel, who served with the regiment later becoming Honorary Colonel, was appointed KT in 1973.


See main article: Chiefs of Clan Cameron.


  • Tor Castle: Ewen Cameron, XIII Chief of Camerons, built "Tor Castle" in the early 15th century. It was abandoned (but not torn down) by his great-great-great-grandson Sir Ewen "Dubh" Cameron of Lochiel, XVII Chief of Camerons. Tor Castle was used by the Camerons as a refuge from attacks by the Clan MacDonald of Keppoch.[3]
  • Achnacarry Castle: Chief Sir Ewen wanted a more "convenient house" and built Achnacarry Castle circa 1655, which was burned to the ground by Hanoverian forces following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.[3] In 1802, Donald Cameron, XXII Chief, built a new mansion house at Achnacarry,[3] after repaying a huge fine to the British Government to regain the estates of his ancestors. The house remains, near the line of trees that Lochiel (the Gentle) planted on the day that he heard of the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie. There is a museum in a cottage nearby, founded by Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel in 1989.[3]
  • The Camerons of Lochiel also had a castle on Eilean nan Craobh (Tree Island) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.[3][35]


  • Basic Clan Cameron.[1]
  • Cameron of Lochiel.[1]
  • Cameron of Erracht.[1]
  • Hunting Cameron (of Lochiel).[1]
Tartan image Notes
Cameron tartan (Vestiarium Scoticum).png Clan Cameron tartan, as published in the Vestiarium Scoticum in 1845.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Cameron Reference File". Retrieved 7 December 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. The Scottish Clans and Their Tartans. p.11. (Retrieved on 24 April 2009). Edinburgh: W. & A.K. Johnston, 1900(?).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Coventry, Martin. (2008). Castles of the Clans: The Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. pp. 75. ISBN 978-1-899874-36-1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "A History of Clan Cameron". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 Stewart, John of Ardvorlich. (1974). The Camerons, A History of Clan Cameron. Published by the Clan Cameron Association. Printed by Jamieson & Munro Ltd. Stirling.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Clan Cameron History Retrieved 4 May 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 88 - 89.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Iain (1967). The Highland Clans. London: Barrie & Rocklif. pp. 139–143. ISBN 0-517-54659-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "The Battle of Drumlui". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "The Battle of Invernahavon". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Battle at the North Inch of Perth". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "The Battle of Harlaw". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The Battle of Split Allegiances". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 "The Battle of Palm Sunday". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "The Battle of Inverlochy – 1431". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Battle of Corpach Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  17. Raid on Ross Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  18. "The Battle of Achnashellach". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "The Battle of Flodden". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "The Battle of Blar-nan-Leine". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "The Battle of Bun Garbhain". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "The Battle of Glenlivet". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. MacKenzie, Alexander (2008). The History of the Camerons. The Celtic Magazine. IX. BiblioBazaar (reprint). p. 156. ISBN 978-0-559-79382-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Modern reprint of November 1883 article with a detailed account of Cameron history from 1654 to 1665.
  24. "The Battle of Mulroy". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "The Battle of Killiecrankie". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "The Battle of Dunkeld". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "The Battle of Cromdale". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "MacKintosh Battles". Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Iain Moncreiffe, Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, David Hicks (1982). The Highland Clans. pp. 48–51. ISBN 978-0-09-144740-3.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Cameron, Donald (1 January 2004), Extract from a Fort William Letter, 24 August 1784 (regarding the restoration of the Lochiel Estate), External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Macmillan, Somerled (1971), Bygone Lochaber, Glasgow: K & R Davidson<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Clan Cameron Association staff (28 March 2008), Clan Cameron Museum, Clan Cameron Association online External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Macdonald, Stuart (1994), Back to Lochaber, The Pentland Press, p. 190<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. jadcpub-familytree (12 November 2012), Three Clearances and a Wedding<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[better source needed]
  35. Eilean Nan Craobh Retrieved 8 April 2014.

External links