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Clan Shaw

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Clan Shaw
Mac Ghille Sheathanaich[1]
Crest: A Dexter Arm, the hand holding the dagger, pale, proper
MottoFide et fortitudine (By fidelity and fortitude)[1]
War cry"Na Bean Ris A Chat" (Touch not the cat)
Plant badgeRed whortleberry[1]
Pipe musicThe Rothiemurchus Rant, The Shaws March
Landon Shaw of Tordarroch[1]
Historic seatDoune of Rothiemurchus[2]
Septs of Clan Shaw
Adamson, Adamsone, Ademson, Ademsoun, Ademsoune, Aesone, Aison, Aissone, Aissoun, Aissoune, Asson, Assone, Aue, Ave, Ay, Aye, Ayesone, Ayson, Aysone, Aysoun, Ayssoun, Eason, Easone, Easson, Esson, Ison, Isone, MacAy, Saythe, Scaith, Scayth, Schau, Schaw, Schawe, Scheoch, Scheok, Schiach, Schioch, Schioche, Seah, Seath, Seith, Seth, Sha, Shau, Shawe, Shay, Sheach, Sheath, Sheehan, Sheoch, Shiach, Siache, Sith, Sithach, Sithech, Sithig, Skaith, Sythach, Sythag, Sythock, Tordarroch
Allied clans
Rival clans

Clan Shaw is a Highland Scottish clan and is a member of the Chattan Confederation.[3]



A Victorian era, romanticised depiction of Private Farquhar Shaw of the Blackwatch by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845.

The progenitor of the Clan Shaw is believed to be one Shaw MacDuff who was a younger son of Duncan, the Thane or Earl of Fife, who was a descendant of Kenneth MacAlpin.[3] Shaw MacDuff was made keeper of Inverness Castle, which was a strategic royal castle, by Malcolm IV of Scotland.[3] His heirs were known as the Mhic anToiseach which means the sons of the Thane and they supported the royal government, consolidating their power around Inverness.[3] Shaw's grandson was Shaw Macwilliam, who in 1263 acquired lands at Rothiemurchus.[3] His son was Farquhard who due to problems with their powerful neighbors the Clan Comyn, made an alliance with the Clan Donald by marrying Mora, daughter of Aonghas Mór, Lord of Islay.[3] Farquhard's son was Angus Mackintosh, sixth chief of Clan Mackintosh who married Eva, daughter of the chief of Clan Chattan (Chattan Confederation). Eva's second son John-Angus, was the first chief of Clan Shaw.[3]

Wars of Scottish Independence[edit]

The feud with the Clan Comyn brought the Chattan Confederation support from Robert the Bruce and they fought for him at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.[3] They also took part in the Scottish invasions of England in 1318 and 1319.[3]

14th century[edit]

The second chief of Clan Shaw was Shaw Macghillechrist Mhic Iain who was a great-grandson of Angus Mackintosh and Eva.[3] He was known as Sgorfhiachlach(bucktooth) and was raised with his cousins at Moy, seat of the Mackintoshes.[3] It seems certain that he was present at the Battle of Invernahavon against the Clan Cameron in 1370.[3] In 1391 Shaw was elected as Captain of Clan Chattan for a raid on Angus under Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan who was known as the "Wolf of Badenoch".[3] In 1396 Shaw was appointed to lead the Clan Chattan at the Battle of the North Inch, a trial by combat against the Clan Cameron, which took place in front of an audience that included Robert III of Scotland and the Dauphin of France.[3]

15th, 16th and 17th centuries[edit]

James Shaw of Rothiemurchas was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.[2]

The grandson of Shaw Bucktooth was Aedh who settled at Tordarroch in 1468.[3] He occupied a strategic site near the River Nairn and he and his followers became known as the "Clan Ay".[3] On 22 May 1543 Angus MacRobert of Tordarroch was one of the signatories of a band of union and management of the Clan Chattan, that was signed at Inverness.[3] Shaw of Tordarroch again signed a similar agreement on 4 April 1609.[3] The clan prospered and Duncan Shaw, Laird of Crathienaird rose to become chamberlain to the Earl of Mar by 1691.[3]

As well as the original founding branch of the Clan in Rothiemurchus, the branches of Clan Shaw that stemmed from the main line of the ancient Mackintosh Shaw 'Ciars' of Rothiemurchus at the Doune of Rothiemurcus are thus:

Senior Branch 1.) Shaws of Tordarroch – Clan Ay, circa 1405. Situated away from Rothiemurchus in Strathnairn, close to the Mackintosh duthaich at Moy. Also listed are related Clan Ay Houses: Shaws in Ayrshire:, circa 1650, Shaws of Craigfield, circa 1680, Shaws of Muirton (date undetermined), Shaws in Canada, circa 1814.

Branch 2.) Shaws of Dell, circa 1430–50. Situated in Rothiemurchus. Also listed are a related House: Shaws of Guislich, circa 1670. Both Houses are extinct.

In the late Major C. J. 'Iain' Shaw of Tordarroch's 1983 watershed book 'A History of Clan Shaw', it is interesting that he notes: "...Later in 1750, in the government report (MS. In Advocates Library, Edinburgh. 'Highlands of Scotland in 1750', page 122) it is stated that 'the Shaws have two Chieftains of equal dignity, viz., Shaw of Tordarack (sp) in Strathnairn, and Shaw of Dell in Badenoch, neither of whom were in the last Rebellion, (i.e. the 1745 Rising), but some of their men were sent out under command of some gentlemen who had nothing to lose". (i.e. the Shaws of Kinrara and the Shaw of Crathienaird/Glenshee/Glenisla men!). This Tribe consists of about 100".

Branch 3.) Shaws of Dalnavert, circa 1430–50. Situated in Rothiemurchus. this House is extinct.

Other Rothiemurchus branches: Shaws of Kinrara, Shaws of Achnahatnich and Shaws of Tullochgrue* (see Chapter Four: Rothiemurchus Septs: 'A History of Clan Shaw' by Major C.J. Shaw of Tordarroch).

Branch 4.) Mackintosh – Shaws of Mar, Clan Farquharson/Fhionnlaigh, circa 1435. Represented by the Clan Fhionnlaigh Chiefs/Farquharson of Invercauld, this line also descends from the Clan Shaw Chiefs (i.e. the Mackintosh Shaw 'Ciar's' of Rothiemurchus), but are an independent clan within the Clan Chattan confederation. The Representer is Philip Farquharson of Invercauld, 17th Chief. (N,B.: The Farquharson branch of the family emigrated 'over the hill' (i.e. The Cairngorms) from Rothiemurchus and is situated in Braemar and Upper Deeside.).

Branch 5.) Shaws of Trumpan, Harlosh and Skye – Clan Ivar/Iomhair, circa 1450. Situated in the Western Isles. Also listed are possibly related Houses on Mull, Jura and Islay.

Branch 6.) Shaws of Crathienaird – (latterly called) Clan Seumas, circa 1600 (Indeterminate, but descending from the Shaw of Tullochgrue branch in Rothiemurchus). Situated circa 1630 in Upper Deeside, near Braemar and Balmoral, and later (1710) in Glenshee and Glenisla. Also listed are related Houses in the Crathienaird branch: Shaws of Inchrory, circa 1650, Situated in GlenAvon, Shaws of Daldownie, circa 1680 (Extinct), situated in Glengairn, Shaws of Riverney, circa 1680 (Extinct), Shaws of the Balloch, circa 1700, Situated in Glenisla, Shaws of Easter Lair, circa 1762, Shaws of Blacklunans, circa 1780, Situated in Glenshee, Shaw of Shawfields, circa 1750, Situated in Glenisla (Extinct), Shaws of Dalnaglar, circa 1780, Situated in Glenshee, and Shaws of Lochmaddy, Situated in Skye (Represented).

Branch 7.) Shaws of Clonmel and Figlash in Eire, circa 1650 (Indeterminate). Also listed are related Houses: Shaws of Figlash, circa 1700, Shaws of Bushy Park, circa 1750.

18th century and Jacobite risings[edit]

On 15 September 1715 Mackintosh of Borlum called out the Clan Chattan to fight for the Jacobite cause in the Jacobite rising of 1715.[3] The Shaw contingent was led by Robert, the younger of Tordarroch and his brother Angus.[3] The Shaw contingent was noted for its discipline, equipment and bravery.[3] Robert and Angus were both imprisoned after the rising had collapsed and Robert died soon after being released in 1718.[3] Angus was transported to Virginia but was pardoned in 1722.[3] Angus never recovered from his experience or the death of his brother and as a result he refused to call out his clan for the Jacobite rising of 1745.[3] However many Shaws rallied to support the Jacobite Stuarts such as James Shaw of Crathienaird.[3] Lady Anne Farquharson-MacKintosh called out the entire Clan Chattan to fight for the Jacobites and two of her most trusted lieutenants were James Shaw and John Shaw of Kinrara.[3]


In 1970 Major Charles John Shaw of Tordarroch was recognized by the Lord Lyon King of Arms as chief of Clan Shaw.[3] He was the grandfather of the present chief, in an unbroken line of continuity back to the ancient Earls of Fife.[3]

The 22nd Chief of the Clan Shaw, John Shaw of Tordarroch, died in Spain on 22, October 2017; his heir and Tanist is his only son Iain Shaw of Tordarroch, now 23rd Chief of Clan Shaw.

The grave of Shaw Macghillechrist Mhic Iain[edit]

The 2nd chief of Clan Shaw has a unusual grave. Shaw Macghillechrist Mhic Iain, also known as Sgorfhiachlach was appointed to lead the Clan Chattan at the Battle of the North Inch, a trial by combat, as the Chief of Clan Macintosh was too old at that stage. His grave in Doune at Rothimurchus has 5 heavy homing stones resting on top, said to represent those who survived the battle. Any person who tampers with these stones is said to suffer illness or death. In 1983 an iron cage was placed over the grave to protect visitors from the curse. A spirit known as a Bodach an Duin is also said to guard the grave.[3]


Armigers of the Clan Shaw are: Thomas Donald MacKay Shaw, 3rd Baron Craigmyle – London and Knoydart, Inverness-shire, Scotland. Tanist is Thomas Columba Shaw, Younger of Craigmyle.

William Shaw of Easter Lair – 12th Representer of the Territorial House of Shaw of Easter Lair. (The Senior armiger of the Shaw of Crathienaird sept) : Wester Crathienaird, Squak Mountain, Issaquah, WA. USA. Tanist is Liam David Shaw, Younger of Easter Lair.

The late Iain Farqhuar Shaw – Mount Blair, Glenshee, Perthshire, Scotland. A younger line of the Crathieniard sept in Glenshee, Mr. Shaw Inherited Arms and lands as Tanist/heir of his uncles: MacKenzie Smith Shaw of Achenleish and Little Forter, WS (who matriculated Arms in Lyon Court in March 1930) and William Thomas Shaw of Tenandry, WS (who matriculated Arms in Lyon Court in March 1927). Tanist is William James Shaw.

Robert James Shaw – Tintenbar, New South Wales, Australia.

Clan Castles[edit]

Tordarroch House
  • Doune of Rothiemurchus, two miles south of Aviemore in Strathspey is an eighteenth-century mansion which replaced an earlier castle.[2] The lands were held by the Shaws, Mackintoshes and by the Dallases of Cantray.[2] James Shaw of Rothiemurchus was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.[2]
  • Tordarroch Castle, seven miles south of Inverness was once a strong tower but little survives.[2] It was held by the Shaws from 1468.[2] The castle was later replaced by Tordarroch House.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Clan Shaw Profile scotclans.com. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Coventry, Martin (2008). Castles of the Clans: The Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. Musselburgh: Goblinshead. p. 527. ISBN 978-1-899874-36-1.
  3. ^ 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 Way, George of Plean; Squire, Romilly of Rubislaw (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. Glasgow: HarperCollins (for the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 320–321. ISBN 0-00-470547-5.

External links[edit]