Origins of the clan
Sometime between 1124 and 1125 Gilchrist, son of Erwini, witnessed a charter of the Lords of Galloway. The first lands by the name of Irvine were in Dumfriesshire. According to family tradition the origin of the clan chief's family is connected with the early celtic monarchs of Scotland. Duncan Irvine settled at Bonshaw. Duncan was the brother of Crinan, who claimed descent from the High Kings of Ireland, through the Abbots of Dunkeld. Crinan married a daughter of Malcolm II of Scotland and their son was Duncan I of Scotland.
William de Irwin was a neighbor of the Clan Bruce. The Ivines supported their powerful neighbors, the Bruces, and William de Irwin became the armor bearer and secretary to king Robert the Bruce. For twenty years of faithful service William de Irwin was granted the royal forest of Drum, in Aberdeenshire, as a reward. This then became the seat of the chief of Clan Irvine. There was already a tower at Drum which was built before the end of the 13th century as a royal hunting lodge. From this grew Drum Castle, seat of the chief.
15th century and clan confilts
Clan Irvine was often at feud with the neighbouring Clan Keith. Both clans invaded each other's lands. In 1402, Clan Irvine is said to have slaughtered an invading war party of Clan Keith at the Battle of Drumoak.
The third Laird of Drum was Alexander Irvine, who was the first in a line of twelve Irvines who successively bore the name Alexander. He was said to be a knight of legendary prowess and followed the Earl of Mar to the wars in France. He later fought at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, which was fought only twenty miles away from Drum itself. At Harlaw Alexander Irvine engaged in single combat with the famous Hector Maclean of the Battles, chief of the Clan Maclean. Both are said to have died from wounds that they inflicted on each other. This is commemorated in a ballad about the battle as "Gude Sir Alexander Irvine the much renounit Laird of Drum".
16th Century & Anglo-Scottish Wars
The next Laird of Drum was a prominent figure in the negotiations to ransom James I of Scotland from the English and when the king was released de Irwyne was knighted. When the king was murdered in Perth, Sir Alexander Irvine took control of the city of Aberdeen to restore order.
The sixth Laird of Drum and chief of Clan Irvine was a peacemaker, and was rewarded by King James V of Scotland for his efforts to suppress rebels, thieves, reivers, sourcerers and murderers in 1527.
17th Century and Civil War
During the Civil War, the royalist Irvines supported Charles I. However the Irvines lived in a mainly Covenanter district and Drum Castle was therefore an obvious target. The castle was attacked when the Laird of Drum was absent by a strong force that surrounded it with artillery. Lady Irvine surrended and the castle was then looted. The Laird of Drum's two sons both fought in the civil war and were both captured. The younger son, Robert, died in the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, however his brother, Alexander, was freed after James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose's victory at the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645. Drum Castle was again attacked, ransacked, the ladies of the house were ejected and the estate was ruined.
18th Century and Jacobite risings
During the Jacobite rising of 1715, the fourteenth Laird of Drum supported the Jacobite cause and fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 where he received a severe head wound. He never recovered from the wound and after years of illness died leaving no direct heir. The estate then passed to his uncle, John Irvine and then onto another kinsman, John Irvine of Crimond.
During the Jacobite rising of 1745 the Clan Irvine continued their support for the Jacobite Stuarts and fought at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Laird of Drum escaped capture by hiding in a secret room at Drum Castle. He then lived for a few years in exile in France until he was allowed to return to his estates.
19th & 20th Centuries
The Clan Today
In 2002 the Chief of Clan Irvine entered into a peace treaty with the 13th Earl of Kintore who is the Chief of Clan Keith at an elaborate ceremony on the banks of the River Dee to end their 600 year feud.
- Clan chief: David Charles Irvine of Drum, Chief of the Name and Arms of Irvine and 26th Baron of Drum.
- Drum Castle.
- Bonshaw Tower.
- Way of Plean; Squire (2000), p. 134.
- burkes peerage
- Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 174 - 175.
- irvinehistory.com. "Clan Irvine Brief History". Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- Burke, John, Genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry, vol.1, Colburn, London (1847) p.637.