is a West Highland Scottish clan
, with one main branch Lochiel, and numerous cadet branches such as Erracht, Clunes, Glen Nevis, and Fassifern. The Clan Cameron lands are in Lochaber
and within their lands is the mountain Ben Nevis
which is the highest mountain in the British Isles
Origin of the clan
The origins of Clan Cameron are uncertain. There are several theories of the Camerons' origins. 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 [in Gaelic cam-shròn, pronounced [kaməhro:n]] - such nicknames were and are common in Gaelic culture], and that his dependants then adopted the name. However, the chronicler adds, that it is more probable that they are the aborigines of the ancient Scots known as Caledonians. This statement proved that the writer of the history understood neither the meaning of the language he used nor the subject on which he pronounced an opinion. According to John Major, 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, a more likely explanation.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, the most important tribes in Lochaber were the Clan Donald, the Chattan Confederation, and the Mael-anfhaidh. Traditionally, the Mael-anfhaidh consisted of three main tribes; the MacMartins of Letterfinlay; the Macgillonies (Mac ghille-anfhaidh); and the MacSorlies of Glennevis (Sliochd Shoirle Ruaidh). The MacMartins are said to have provided the chief of this confederation of tribes. Donald Dubh Cameron, already mentioned, married the daughter of the MacMartin chief and either through this or by his own prowess assumed the leadership or captaincy of the confederation of clans which later formed the Clan Cameron.
Some time towards the end of the 14th century, a chief or leader called Donald Dubh, whose surname was Cameron, arose in Lochaber. He must have been a man of importance, ability, and energy, for he had a large following composed of local tribes. Donald Dubh was the first "authentic" chief or captain of this confederation of tribes which gradually became known as the Clan Cameron, 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.
Wars of Scottish Independence
In the 14th Century, during the Wars of Scottish Independence, 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. Later, the clan, led by Chief VIII John De Cameron, fought at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.
14th Century & Clan Conflicts
Clan Cameron was involved in many clan battles mostly against Clan MacKintosh
with whom they had an extensive feud which lasted over 350 years:
- Battle of Drumlui, 1337, A dispute between the Clan MacKintosh and Clan Cameron over land at Glenlui and Loch Arkaig. The Camerons were defeated but started a 350 year feud.
- Battle of Invernahoven, 1370. Fought between the Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation of Clan MacKintosh, Clan Macpherson and Clan Davidson.
- Battle of the North Inch, 1396. In the aftermarth of the battle of Invernahoven, the Camerons did not wait long to take their revenge on the MacKintoshes and the Chattan Confederation. The feud between them had become so fierce and bloody that King Robert III was made aware of it. The King brought the two rival chiefs of Clan Cameron and Clan MacKintosh together and decided it would be resolved by the sword. The king ordered part of the river near the city of Perth to be enclosed with a deep ditch in the form of an amphitheatre with seats and benches for the spectators, his majesty himself sitting as the judge on the field. Crowds and combatants appeared. The clans chose thirty of their best warriors each to take part. Four of the MacKintoshes survived the battle but they were all mortally wounded. One Cameron survived and escaped by swimming across the River Tay. The MacKintoshes regained all their lands that had been taken from them.
15th century & clan conflicts
- Battle of Harlaw, 1411, The Clan Cameron fought as Highlanders at the Battle of Harlaw near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire on 24 July 1411 against an Army of Scottish Lowlanders. The Camerons took the side of Donald, Lord of the Isles, (MacDonald) who was the current Earl of Ross through marriage. Their enemy was the Duke of Albany.
- Battle of Split Allegiances, 1429, This conflict was 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.
- Battle of Palm Sunday, 1429, Fought between the Clan Cameron against the Clan Mackintosh and the Chattan Confederation.
- Battle of Inverlochy (1431), The Clan Cameron together with their enemies the Clan MacKintosh fought 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 who defeated the army led by the Earl of Mar.
- Battle of Corpach, 1439, Fought between the Clan Cameron and Clan Maclean.
- Battle of Craig Cailloch, 1441, Clan MacKintosh, at the instigation of Alexander, Lord of the Isles, began to invade and raid the Cameron lands. A sanguinary conflict took place in this year at Craig Cailloch between Clan Cameron and the MacKintoshes in which MacKintosh's second son, Lachlan "Badenoch" was wounded and Gillichallum, his brother, killed.
- 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.
- Raid on Ross 1491, a conflict that took place in 1491 in the Scottish Highlands. It was fought between the Clan Mackenzie against several other clans, including the Clan MacDonald of Lochalsh, Clan MacDonald of Clanranald the Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation of Clan Mackintosh.
16th century & clan conflicts
- Battle of Achnashellach, 1505, Little is known of this battle which is often described as an obscure skirmish between the Clan Cameron and Clan MacKay. It is said that the MacKays were defeated and William Munro of Foulis, chief of the Clan Munro who assisted the MacKays was killed.
- During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the Clan Cameron chief, Ewen Cameron and a portion of his men survived fighting against against the English army at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.
- Battle of the Shirts, 1544, Clan Cameron provided archers who sided with Clan MacDonald at the Battle of 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 Cameorn fell into disfavor 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.
- Battle of Bun Garbhain, 1570, Fought between the Clan Cameron and Clan Mackintosh. 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.
- Battle of Glenlivet, 1594, XVI Chief of Clan Cameron, Allen Cameron led the clan at this battle on the side of the Earl of Huntly, Clan Gordon, Clan Comyn and others. They defeated their enemy; the Earl of Argyll whose forces consisted of the Clan Campbell, Clan Forbes, Atholl and the Chattan Confederation of Clan MacKintosh. The Camerons pursued their enimies with great eagerness who were soundly defeated.
17th century & Civil War
- During the Civil War at the Battle of Inverlochy 1645, Clan Cameron fought on the side of the Royalist Scots and Irish led by Clan MacDonald who defeated the Scottish Covenanters of Clan Campbell.
- Standoff at the Fords of Arkaig, 1665, the Clan Chiefs of Clan MacKintosh and Clan Cameron were ordered by the Privy Court to end the dispute over the lands near Loch Arkaig once and for all. While MacKintosh was declared to have the legal right Cameron was declared to be the owner. Cameron was ordered to pay MacKintosh a large sum of money for the land but MacKintosh refused this. Soon after Clan MacKintosh and the Chattan Confederation assembled an army of 1500 men. Camerons had raised a force of approximately 1000 men who took up a defensive stance at Achnacarry. Camerons' biographer records that there were 900 men armed with guns and broadswords and a further 300 men armed with bows. It seemed the battle to end all battles between these two ancient adversaries was about to commence. However just as Clan Cameron commenced their attack the powerful Clan Campbell and Chief appeared on the scene. John Campbell, Chief of Campbells brought with him 300 men and declared that he would fight against whichever side initiated the impending battle. The Cameron Chief Ewen soon withdraw all his troops. As a result one of the bloodiest feuds in Scottish history came to an end after 360 years. On September 20th 1665 a contract was signed by both Chiefs of Cameron and MacKintosh with Cameron agreeing to buy the lands from MacKintosh. Then at a place called Clunes around 24 men from each side met face to face and shook hands for the first time in generations. Here they exchanged swords as a token of reconciliation and drank together.
- Battle of Mulroy, 1668, Clan Cameron and Clan MacKintosh were at peace and Cameron Chief Sir Ewen was responsible for keeping the peace between his men and their former enemies. However when the Chief Sir Ewen Cameron was away in London a feud broke out between Clan MacDonald and their enemies Clan MacKintosh and Clan MacKenzie. As the Cameron Chief was away he was not able to hold back his clan and the combined forces of Cameron and MacDonald defeated the MacKintoshes and MacKenzies.
- The Clan Cameron fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie July 1689 , the Battle of Dunkeld August 1689 and the Battle of Cromdale May 1690.
18th century & Jacobite uprisings
The Clan Cameron fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 during the initial early Jacobite uprisings. They later fought fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719. Their chief John Cameron of Lochiel, after hiding for a time in the Highlands, made his way back to exile in France.
The Clan Cameron fought on the side of the Jacobites against the British Army at the Battle of Falkirk (1746) and on the frontline at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. After the Battle of Culloden the chief, Donald Cameron, also known as 'Gentle Locheil', took refuge in France, where he died in October 1748.
19th & 20th centuries
During the Napoleonic Wars
Donald Cameron the 23rd chief fought with distinction at the Battle of Waterloo
as part of the Grenadier Guards
in 1815. He retired in 1832. Later that same year he married Lady Vere, daughter of the Honourable George Vere Hobart and sister of the 6th Earl of Buckinghamshire. Lady Vere was descended from the Camerons of Glenderrary. 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 created a Knight of the Thistle
, a title his son, the famed Sir Donald Hamish Cameron was also awarded in 1973.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 nick-name of 'ladies from hell' (even though they were all men)
Clan Cameron today
The current Chief, Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel, XXVII Chief of Clan Cameron has issued the call for an International Gatheringof Clan Cameron, to take place from July 30 - August 2, 2009, at Achnacarry. The Clan Cameron Association, founded in 1889, maintains international branches in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and North America. They may be reached via their website
Castles of Clan Cameron
- Tor Castle: Ewen Cameron, XIII Chief of Camerons, built "Tor Castle" in the early 15th century. It was torn down by his great, great, great grandson Sir Ewen "Dubh" Cameron of Lochiel, XVII Chief of Camerons.
- Achnacarry Castle: Chief Sir Ewen wanted a more "convenient house" and built Achnacarry Castle circa 1655.
- New Achnacarry: In 1802, Donald Cameron, XXII Chief built a new mansion house at Achnacarry after repaying a huge fine to the British Government to regain the estates of ancestors. The house remains, near the line of trees that Lochiel (the Gentle) was planting on the day that he heard of the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie. There is a small museum nearby.
- Clan crest:
- (old): A dexter arm embowed in armor, the hand grasping a sword, all proper, encircled by a belt and buckle.
- (current): A sheaf of five arrows, proper, tied with a band, gules, encircled by a belt and buckle.
- Clan motto:
- (old): Mo Righ's Mo Dhuchaich (translation from Gaelic: For King and Country).
- (current): Aonaibh Ri Chéile (translation from Gaelic: Let Us Unite).
- Basic Clan Cameron.
- Cameron of Lochiel.
- Cameron of Erracht.
- Hunting Cameron (of Lochiel).
Septs lived within the ruling clan's territory. They would pay Tax to the ruling Chief normally in the form of food such as crops and livestock and not necessarily in the form of money. Some septs would sometimes fight alongside the ruling clan during battle while other septs may just have been normal Scottish families who worked on the land.
Chiefs of Clan Cameron
The following is an incomplete list of the chiefs of Clan Cameron of Lochiel, the senior chiefs of Clan Cameron.
||Year became chief
||John de Cameron
||Said to have led the clan at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. |
||John Ochtery Cameron
||Said to have led the clan at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. |
||Allan MacOchtery Cameron
||Son of VIII. Led the clan at the Battle of Drumlui in 1337. While he was chief, the Clan Cameron and Clan Chattan feud began. |
||Ewen MacAllan Cameron
||Son of IX; died without issue. |
||Donald Dubh Cameron
||Son of IX. Rose up in support of MacDonald, Lord of the Isles at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. |
||Alan Allan MacIldny Cameron
||Son of XI. Constable of Strome Castle, 1472, for MacDonald of Lochalsh. |
||Ewen Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XII. Confirmed lands of Lochiel from King James IV in 1495. Led the clan during the raid on Ross 1491, Battle of Achnashellach 1505, Battle of Flodden Field 1513 and Battle of Shirts 1544. Beheaded for treason at Stirling in 1547. His sons did not ascend to Chief. |
||Ewen 'Beag' Cameron of Lochiel
||Also known as Ewen M'Conill M'Ewen. Grandson of XII. Descendents of Beag's illegitimate issue became the clan's Taylor sept. |
||Donald Dubh MacDonald MacEwen Cameron
||Also known as Donald Dow M'Connel M'Ewen. Younger brother of XIV. Fought at the The Battle of Corrichie in support of Mary, Queen of Scots. |
||Allan Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XV's dead younger brother. Led the clan at the Battle of Glenlivet in 1594. Observed the Battle of Inverlochy, aged 83. |
||Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XVI's dead first son. Was away in London when his clan fought at the Battle of Mulroy in 1668. |
||John MacEwen Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XVII. Fought at the Battle of Glenshiel and wounded at the Battle of Culloden. |
||Donald Cameron of Lochiel
||Another son of XVII. Also known as "the gentle Lochiel". |
||John Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XIX. Died unmarried, in exile in Flanders. His younger son was Dr Archibald Cameron of Locheil, executed in 1753 for treason. |
||Charles Cameron of Lochiel
||Another son of XIX. |
||Donald Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XXI. |
||Donald Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XXII. MP. Fought with distinction at the Battle of Waterloo. Retired from the army upon his father's death in 1832. |
||Donald Cameron, 24th Lochiel
||Son of XXIII. |
||Donald Cameron, 25th Lochiel
||Son of XXIV. Officer in the Grenadier Guards, was severely wounded at the Battle of Belmont in 1902. |
||Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XXV. Died 2004. |
||Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel
||Son of XXVI. The current chief of Clan Cameron. |