Clan MacLaren

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Clan MacLaren
Clann Labhruinn or Clan Labhran
Crest: A lion's head erased Sable crowned with an ancient crown of six (four visible) points Or, between two branches of laurel issuing from the Wreath at either side of the head both Proper.
MottoAb Origine Fidus ('Faithful from the Beginning')
SloganCreag an Tuirc ('The Boar's Rock')
Plant badgeLaurel[1]
Florian MacLaren of MacLaren & Achleskine
The 26th Chief of the Name and Arms of MacLaren
SeatKirkton Farm, Balquhidder
Historic seatBalquhidder, Strathearn
Septs of Clan MacLaren
M'Laren, Maclaren, MacLaurin, MacLauren, McLaren, McLaurin, McLeran, McLerran, McLaran, McLoran, McClaran, McClarin, McClaren, MacClaren, McClarence, McLarence, McLaurence, McLawrence, McClernon, McLarren, Lawrence, Laurence, Lawrin, Law, Lawson, Lawton, Low, Lowe, Lawrie, Laurie, Lowery, Lowry, Lowrey, Lowson, Faed, Paterson, Patterson, Pattison, Peterson, Patrick, McPhater, MacPatrick, MacRory, McCrory, McGory, MacRuari, MacGrory, MacIntyre, Wright, McFater
Clan branches
MacLaren of Achleskine (chiefs)
MacLaren of Ardveche
MacLaren of Invernenty
MacLaren of Struthill
MacLaurin of Tiree
Allied clans
Rival clans

Clan MacLaren (Scottish Gaelic: Cinneadh MacLabhrainn) is a Highland Scottish clan.[2] Traditional clan lands include the old parish of Balquhidder which includes the villages of Lochearnhead and Strathyre, and is about 18 miles (29 km) long and 7 miles (11 km) broad, spanning 54,675 acres (22,126 ha), long known as "Maclaren Country".


Origins of the clan[edit]

An illustration of a 17th century MacLaurin clansman by R. R. McIan from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands published in 1845.

The chiefly house of MacLaren is said to be descended from Loarn mac Eirc, believed to be a ruler of the kingdom of Dál Riata.[3][4][5] In Scottish Gaelic the clan name is Clann Labhruinn. However the eponymous founder of the MacLarens is generally given as Laurence, Abbot of Achtow in Balquhidder, who lived during the thirteenth century.[6] Balquhidder was part of the ancient princedom of Strathern whose heraldry is shown in the heraldry of the MacLarens.[7] The heraldry borne by the clan suggests that they descend from a cadet branch of the dynasty of the Earls of Strathearn.[8]

There is also a tradition that the MacLarens fought at the Battle of the Standard under Malise I, Earl of Strathearn, for David I of Scotland.[9]

Wars of Scottish Independence[edit]

Three names identified as belonging to the Clan MacLaren are found in the Ragman Rolls of 1296, giving allegiance to Edward I of England.[2] These are Maurice of Tiree, Conan of Balquhidder and Leurin of Ardveche.[2] During the Wars of Scottish Independence it is probable that the Clan MacLaren fought for Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn, under the standard of Malise, Earl of Strathearn in 1314, where the English were defeated.[2] The last Gaelic Earl of Strathearn was deprived of his title in 1344 when the MacLarens came under pressure from their more powerful neighbours.[2]

15th and 16th centuries[edit]

In 1468 the Clan MacLaren fought in support of the Clan Stewart of Appin at the Battle of Stalc.[10][11] The MacLarens also fought alongside the Stewarts of Appin at the Battle of Black Mount in 1497 or 1498.[12][13] Balquhidder passed into the hands of the Crown and in 1490 a Stewart was appointed the royal ballie. (see: Stewart of Balquhidder).[2] Then in 1500 James IV of Scotland granted the lordship to Janet Kennedy, his mistress, and the chief of the Clan MacLaren found that his lands had become part of another barony.[2] Balquhidder would later pass to the Clan Murray of Atholl.[2]

The persecution of the Clan Gregor by the Clan Campbell drove the MacGregors from their own lands into Balquidder where the Clan MacLaren lacked the power to stop them.[2] As a result, the MacGregors plundered the lands of the MacLarens killing eighteen MacLaren households; men, women and children, and taking over the homesteads of those they killed.[3] The MacLarens appealed to the Campbells for help, but they demanded that the MacLarens acknowledge them as their feudal superiors as the price of protection.[2] However it appears that the Crown continued to regard the MacLarens as an independent clan as they are listed in the Acts of Parliament in 1587 and 1594, for the suppression of unruly clans.[2]

The Civil War and Jacobite Risings[edit]

During the Scottish Civil War the Clan MacLaren fought for James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose, in support of Charles I of England at the Battle of Inveraray,[3] Battle of Inverlochy (1645), Battle of Auldearn, Battle of Alford and the Battle of Kilsyth.[2]

In 1689 the Clan MacLaren again fought for the Stuart cause, this time under John Graham, 1st Viscount Dundee, at the Battle of Killiecrankie.[2]

Jacobite rising of 1715[edit]

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the Clan MacLaren fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in support of the Jacobite cause.[2]

Jacobite rising of 1745[edit]

Clan MacLaren Memorial Stone at Culloden, Photo by Tim Graves
Clan MacLaren Memorial Stone at Culloden, Photo by Tim Graves

During the Jacobite rising of 1745 the Clan MacLaren fought in support of the Jacobite cause at the Battle of Prestonpans and the Battle of Falkirk Muir where they were victorious on both occasions.[2] The Clan was also present at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 where the Jacobite army met defeat.[2] Maclarens served in both the Appin and Atholl Regiments. With the exception of Donald MacLaren, the majority of MacLarens in the Appin Regiment were from Appin, twenty-seven total, thirteen killed, fourteen survivors with four wounded. [14]

In addition to the Appin Regiment, MacLarens also served with the Atholl Brigade under the Command of Lord George Murray. At the Battle of Culloden, the Atholl brigade had the right of the first line: on their left stood Locheil's regiment, the Appin regiment, the Fraser regiment, the Macintosh regiment, the united regiment of Maclauchlans and Macleans, John Roy Stewart's regiment, the Farquharson regiment; and on the left of all, the three Macdonald regiments, Clanranald , Keppoch, and Glengary. Lord George Murray commanded on the right, and Lord John Drummond on the left. The Atholl brigade, in advancing, lost thirty-two officers, and was so shattered that it stopped short, and never closed on the British troops. The Atholl brigade alone lost more than the half of its officers and men. Some of the centre battalions came off with scarcely a third of their men. The Mackintoshes, who were the first to attack, suffered most. With the exception of three only, all the officers of this brave regiment, including Macgillivray of Drumnaglass, its colonel, the lieutenant-colonel, and major, were killed in the attack.

One of the Officers injured in the battle was Donald MacLaren, drover from Invernenty. Donald was a Captain in the Atholl Regiment. He was injured at Culloden but was carried off the field. He and other Atholl men made it back to Balquhidder and then on to Leny where he was injured during a skirmish with the Perthshire Militia on the 19th of July, 1746. MacLaren was taken into custody along with Major David Stewart of Ballahallan, Captain Malcolm MacGregor of Concour, Sergeant King alias Macree (from Lord Murray's regiment) and three privates.[14] By the newspaper accounts of the day, all the men captured were from the Atholl brigade. These men were transported to Stirling Castle and imprisoned.[15] He was treated by the prison physician for his wounds on the 20th of July and subsequently, on September 3, 1746, bound to a dragoon for transfer to Carlisle to stand trial for treason.[15]

During the course of that transport MacLaren was freed or freed himself (the escape has been related both ways) and escaped by throwing himself off a cliff called the Devil's Beef Tub near Moffet. Although the King's dragoons fired after him, the mist hid his movements and his escape was successful.[15] He remained in hiding as a fugitive in Balquhidder until the amnesty of 1757.[2]

There were other McLarens from Balquhidder in the Atholl regiments as well during the Jacobite rising of 1745:
Alexander McLaren, younger of East Haugh, Pitlochry, Strath Tay;[16][17] Duncan McLaren, Brewer, Wester Invernentie, Balquhidder;[16][18] [19] Orrott McLaren, Uncle to Younger of East Haugh, Pitlochry, Strath Tay[17]
Other Ranks
Donald McLaren, Tenant, Dowally, Strath Tay;[16] Duncan McLaren, Perthshire 3rd Battalion;[18] James McLaren, Servant to Haugh of Killmorich, Strath Tay;[16] John McLaren, Cottar, Rotmell, Strath Tay;[16] Robert McLaren, (Whitefield's)[16]

Crest Badge[edit]

The MacLaren clan crest on the 'old kirk' wall.

The crest badge suitable for members of Clan to wear consists of the heraldic crest and slogan. The crest is: A lion's head erased Sable crowned with an antique crown of six (four visible) points, between two branches of laurel issuing from the Wreath at either side of the head both Proper Or. The slogan within the crest badge is CREAG AN TUIRC, which translates from Scottish Gaelic as "The Boars Rock".

Clan Badge[edit]

The clan badge badge is a laurel branch.


Tartan MacLaren

The MacLaren tartan colors are dark green, navy blue, yellow, red and black.[20]

The MacLaren tartan was adopted by Scouts in 1921 for William de Bois Maclaren, who donated Gilwell Park to the Scouting Association. The MacLaren tartan was adopted by the Scouts as a way of honoring MacLaren for his donation to the Scouts and, as per World Organization of the Scout Movement, is worn by Scouts the world over.

Chiefly house of Clan Labhran[edit]

Balquhidder from Creag an Tuirc, the gathering place of the Clan MacLaren

The following is taken from MacLaren 1960, p. 138.

"The names from Lorn Mor to John (c1400) are taken from the genealogy of Clan Lawren quoted by Skene (Celtic, Vol. III, p 483) from a MS of 1467 based on a genealogy in the Book of Ballymote and from other medieval genealogies. Skene considers the genealogy reliable from Donald Og (contemporary of Kenneth MacAlpine) onwards. The derivation from Lord Mor is sound, as are most of the names, but for the period before 800 the different sources for the genealogies not only of the various chiefly houses, but even for the main royal line are confused and often contradictory. The line given is that which seems the most probable. The genealogy quoted by Skene ends about 1380-1400 with the names of the three brothers, John, Donald and Anichol Og, and so far no references have come to light to supply the missing names between John and Patrick Mor whose testament, recorded in the Dunblane Commissariat, shows that he died in 1544"

Name Died
King Lorn Mor, son of Erc, brother of King Fergus Mor
Coluim (Mal;colm)
Feradach Finn (the fair)
Ferachar Foda (the Tall)
Donald Donn (the Brown)
Donald Og
Dougall 950
Finlaech mor
Finlaech og
Cilchrist 1100
Disiad, kinsman & contemporary of Malise, 1st Earl of Strathearn
The Abbot Labhran of Achtow, name-forefather of Clan Labhran 1250
Eoan, signatory of the Ragman Roll 1296
John brother of Donald and Anichol Og 1400
MacLaren of MacLaren
MacLaren of MacLaren
MacLaren of MacLaren
MacLaren of MacLaren
Patrick Mor 1544
Neil 1573
John. Eldest of the "bairns" of Findlay M'Neil named in the Bond of Manerent
Finlay 1669
Donald 1687
Finlay 1733
Malcolm, born Achtow, 1734
Donald, born Achtow, 1782
Donald, born Achtow, 1811 1892
Donald, born Achtow, 1840 1913
Duncan, born Kirkton of Balquhidder, 1882 1926
Donald, born 1910 1966
Donald, born 1954 2023
Florian (current Clan MacLaren chief)


In 1957 Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine successfully matriculated his Arms at the Lyon Court. He also purchased land in Balquhidder, including Creag an Tuirc (the "Boar's Rock"), the traditional rallying point of the Clan. The label "chiefless and landless" was finally removed.

Following his death, Donald's son Donald succeeded as chief in 1966.[22]

On Donald's death in 2023, his son Florian succeeded as clan chief.[23]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Clan MacLaren Profile Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Way, George; Squire, Romily (1994). "Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs". Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. p. 236 - 237..
  3. ^ a b c d MacLaren 1960
  4. ^ "CELTIC SCOTLAND: A History of Ancient Alban" by William F. Skene, D.C.L. LL.D (Historiographer-Royal For Scotland) Volume III. "Land and People". Second Edition 1890 (First edition was 1880), David Douglas, Edinburgh. "William F. Skene wrote the descent of Highland Clans based on a 1467 manuscript belonging to the Faculty of Advocates", The Book of Ballimote (14th Cent.), Book of Leccan (1407), Kilbride MS (c 1540), Annals of Ulster (1363), and other old Irish and Scottish manuscripts.
  5. ^ Hickling, Doug. (2002) Appendix VIII. The LEGENDARY DESCENT OF THE HIGHLAND CLANS, According to Irish MSS. (Page 458) Page 483 Third Group- Clans descended from Donald donn, son of Fearadach Finn of the Tribe of Lorn.
  6. ^ MacLaren 1960, p. 16
  7. ^ MacLaren 1960, p. 130
  8. ^ Moncreiffe. The Highland Clans. p. 215.
  9. ^ Adam, Frank (1934). The Clans, Septs And Regiments of the Scottish Highlands.
  10. ^ Battles and Historic Events Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  11. ^ Battle of Stalc Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Clan MacLaren Histories (two versions)". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  13. ^ Lee, Henry James (1920). History of the Stewart or Stuart Family. New York: R.L. Polk & Company. pp. 38–39. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  14. ^ Atholl, Duke of, Chronicles of Atholl and Tullibardine Families, Vol. III, 1908 p. 300
  15. ^ C. Stewart Henderson (1746). Order Book of the Appin Regiment. p. 168.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Atholl, Duke of, Chronicles of Atholl and Tullibardine Families, 5 vols.
  17. ^ a b de Johnstone, Chevalier James (1820). Memoirs of the rebellion in 1745 and 1746. London.
  18. ^ a b Seton, B. Gordon; Arnot, J. Gordon (1890). Prisoners of the '45 Scottish History Society. Edinburgh.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ Roseberry, Earl of (1890). Scottish History Society (ed.). List of Persons concerned in the Rebellion. Edinburg.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  20. ^ "The Clan MacLaren Society - History".
  21. ^ Celtic Scotland: A History of Ancient Alban, Volume III: Land and People by William. F. Skene, 2nd ed., 1890 (1st ed. 1880), Edinburgh: David Douglas. "William F. Skene wrote the descent of Highland Clans based on a 1467 manuscript belonging to the Faculty of Advocates, The Book of Ballimote (14th Cent.), Book of Leccan (1407), Kilbride MS (c 1540), Annals of Ulster (1363), and other old Irish and Scottish manuscripts. This debunked many of the fictitious claims from the 17th-19th Century and although very controversial at the time is now generally accepted (with some minor changes) as the most accurate account." (Doug Hickling, 2002) Appendix VIII: The Legendary Descent of the Highland Clans, According to Irish MSS. (p. 458) Third Group- Clans descended from Donald donn, son of Fearadach Finn of the Tribe of Lorn. page 483.
  22. ^ "The Clan MacLaren Society - History".
  23. ^ "Donald Maclaren, TheMaclaren of Maclaren 1954-2023". Peerage News. 26 July 2023. Retrieved 28 July 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • MacLaren, Margaret (1960). The MacLarens, A History of Clan Labhran. Pentland Press. ISBN 978-0946270101.
  • McLaurin, Neil (2014). Melrose Books (ed.). Creag an Tuirc (3rd ed.). Melrose. ISBN 978-1909757486.

External links[edit]

  • [1] - Clan DNA project
  • [2] - Clan History presented through the use of citations and primary source examples
  • [3] - Website of the North American branch
  • [4] - Website of the Clan MacLaren Society