Clan Irvine

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Clan Irvine
Crest: A sheaf of Holly consisting of nine leaves Vert slipped and banded Gules.[1]
MottoSUB SOLE SUB UMBRA VIRENS (Latin: "Flourishing both in sunshine and in shade").[1] {Alternative Latin definition} "Green shadow beneath the sun"[2][3]
Irvine of Drum arms.svg
Alexander Irvine of Drum
27th Baron of Drum[5]
SeatDrum Castle
Septs of Clan Irvine
Ervin, Ervine, Erving, Erwin, Erwyn, Hurven, Hurvene, Hurvine, Hurwen, Hurwin, Hurwine, Hurwyn, Hurwynn, Hurwynne, Irvene, Irvin, Irvine, Irving, Irvink, Irwin, Irwine, Irwing, Irwink, Irwran, Irwrand, Irwrane, Irwrant, Irwren, Irwrend, Irwrent, Irwrind, Irwrint, Irwryn, Irwrynd, Irwynn, Irwynne, Orvene, Orvine, Orwin, Orwine, Orwynn, Orwynne, Urvene, Urvine, Urwand, Urwane, Urwant, Urwen, Urwend, Urwent, Urwin, Urwind, Urwine, Urwint, Urwyn, Urwynd, Urwynn, Urwynne, Uryn, Yurand, Yurane, Yurant, Yurend, Yurent, Yurind, Yurint, Yurven, Yurvene, Yurvine, Yurwan, Yurwand, Yurwane, Yurwant, Yurwen, Yurwend, Yurwent, Yurwin, Yurwind, Yurwine, Yurwint, Yurwyn, Yurwynd, Yurwynn, Yurwynne, Yurynd.
Clan branches
Irvine of Drum (chiefs)
Irvine of Bonshaw
Allied clans
Rival clans
Clan Keith (from 1402 to 2002)
Clan Maclean

Clan Irvine is a Scottish clan.[6]


Origins of the clan[edit]

Irvine tartan

Sometime between 1124 and 1125 Gilchrist, son of Erwini, witnessed a charter of the Lords of Galloway.[6] The first lands by the name of Irvine were in Dumfriesshire.[6] According to family tradition the origin of the clan chief's family is connected with the early Celtic monarchs of Scotland.[6] Duncan Irvine settled at Bonshaw.[6] Duncan was the brother of Crinan, who claimed descent from the High Kings of Ireland, through the Abbots of Dunkeld.[6] Crinan married a daughter of Malcolm II of Scotland and their son was Duncan I of Scotland.[6]

William de Irwin was a neighbor of the Clan Bruce.[6] The Irvines supported their powerful neighbors, the Bruces, and William de Irwin became the armor bearer and secretary to king Robert the Bruce.[6] For twenty years of faithful service William de Irwin was granted the royal forest of Drum, in Aberdeenshire, as a reward.[6] This then became the seat of the chief of Clan Irvine.[6] There was already a tower at Drum which was built before the end of the 13th century as a royal hunting lodge.[6] From this grew Drum Castle, seat of the chief.[6]

Origin of the crest badge – "Robert Bruce, who, when a fugitive from the court of Edward I., concealed himself in the house of William De Irwin (William Irvine), his secretary and sword-bearer. William De Irwin followed the changing fortunes of his royal master; was with him when he was routed at Methven ; shared his subsequent dangers ; and was one of the seven who were hidden with him in a copse of holly when his pursuers passed by. When Bruce came to his own again he made him Master of the Rolls, and ten years after the battle of Bannockburn, gave him in free barony the forest of Drum, near Aberdeen. He also permitted him to use his private badge of three holly leaves, with the motto, Sub sole sub umbra virens, which are still the arms of the Irving family."[7]

15th century and clan conflicts[edit]

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.[8]

The third Laird of Drum was Alexander Irvine, who was the first in a line of twelve Irvines who successively bore the name Alexander.[6] He was said to be a knight of legendary prowess and followed the Earl of Mar to the wars in France.[6] He later fought at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, which was fought only twenty miles away from Drum itself.[6] At Harlaw Alexander Irvine engaged in single combat with the famous Hector Maclean of the Battles, chief of the Clan Maclean.[6] Both are said to have died from wounds that they inflicted on each other.[6] This is commemorated in a ballad about the battle as "Gude Sir Alexander Irvine the much renounit Laird of Drum".[8]

16th century and Anglo-Scottish Wars[edit]

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.[6] When the king was murdered in Perth, Sir Alexander Irvine took control of the city of Aberdeen to restore order.[6]

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, sorcerers and murderers in 1527.[6][8]

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the sixth Laird's son was killed when the clan fought against the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547.[6][9]

17th century and Civil War[edit]

Drum Castle, seat of the chief of Clan Irvine, was attacked twice during the Civil War.

During the Civil War, the royalist Irvines supported Charles I.[6] However the Irvines lived in a mainly Covenanter district and Drum Castle was therefore an obvious target.[6] The castle was attacked when the Laird of Drum was absent by a strong force that surrounded it with artillery.[6] Lady Irvine surrendered and the castle was then looted.[6] The Laird of Drum's two sons both fought in the civil war and were both captured.[6] 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.[6] Drum Castle was again attacked, ransacked, the ladies of the house were ejected and the estate was ruined.[6]

18th century and Jacobite risings[edit]

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.[6] He never recovered from the wound and after years of illness died leaving no direct heir.[8] The estate then passed to his uncle, John Irvine and then onto another kinsman, John Irvine of Crimond.[6]

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.[6] The Laird of Drum escaped capture by hiding in a secret room at Drum Castle.[6] He then lived for a few years in exile in France until he was allowed to return to his estates.[6]

19th and 20th centuries[edit]

Colonel John Irving of Bonshaw fought in the British Expedition to Abyssinia and his son, Sir Robert Irving of Bonshaw, was commodore of the Cunard Line and was captain of HMS Queen Mary.[6]

The twenty-second Laird of Drum fought in the Grenadier Guards during World War I.[6]

The clan today[edit]

In 2002, the previous Chief of Clan Irvine entered into a peace treaty with the 13th Earl of Kintore, who was the previous Chief of Clan Keith, at an elaborate ceremony on the banks of the River Dee to end their 600-year feud.[10]

Clan chief[edit]

Clan castles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Way of Plean; Squire (2000), p. 134.
  2. ^ Perseus Digital Library; Tufts University Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts, United States of America.
  4. ^ The Court of the Lord Lyon
  5. ^ a b burkes peerage
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj 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.
  7. ^ THE KAATERSKILL EDITION OF WASHINGTON IRVING (page xv); NEW YORK: POLLARD & MOSS, PUBLISHERS, 47 JOHN STREET. 1880. University of California, United States of America
  8. ^ a b c d "Clan Irvine Brief History". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  9. ^ Burke, John, Genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry, vol.1, Colburn, London (1847) p.637.
  10. ^ "Obituary: David Irvine of Drum, chief who helped end a centuries-old clan feud David Irvine of Drum, clan chief. Born: January 20, 1939, in Birkenhead. Died: February 9, 2019, in Aberdeen, aged 80". 23 April 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Obituary: David Irvine of Drum, chief who helped end a centuries-old clan feud". Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  12. ^ "David Irvine of Drum". The Times. 21 March 2019. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 August 2019.


External links[edit]