Cameron Clan @ MacBraveHeart

MacBraveHeart homepage
6th July 2003

Cameron Clan

Ask or tell us about the Cameron Clan, and we'll add the information to this page.

(Our thanks to William Cameron, Senior Marshall, Sons of Scotland, Canada for providing the information below about his Clan)

Clan Cameron has a proud and romantic history and is especially noted for its unwavering loyalty to the Stewart kings. The clan's war-cry, which translated is `Sons Of The Hounds, Come Hither And Get Flesh', is one of the most ferocious and has the double significance that they will feed their enemies' flesh to their hounds and also summon the clansmen (the hounds) to come and kill. It is not surprising that General Wolfe, giving an account of the Battle of Culloden, states that the Camerons were " the bravest clan among them ". There are a number of theories as to the orgins of the clan, whose first authenticated chief (but styled XI) is Donald Dubh (c1400-1460), whose name is the patronymic of Lochiel - MacDomhnuill Dubh (son of dark- haired Donald).

Cam-shron, according to Celtic genealogical theory, is a descriptive adjective meaning "crooked nose", and this discription (applicable to one of the early chiefs) was after the manner of the Gael, passed on to his decendants. It is probable that Donald Dubh was the leader of a confederation of tribes including MacMartins, Macgillonies and MacSorlies, although others suggest that the Camerons were descended from a family which flourished in Fife (Sir John de Cambrun signed the Declaration of Arbroath (Declaration of Independence) in 1320), or from a sister of Banquo, or even from a King of Denmark.

During the 15' and 16' centuries and without Crown Charters for their lands, the chiefs of Clan Cameron required all their wits to maintain the clan's autonomy in the face of the expanding power of Argyll and Huntly. At the same time a vicious feud over land ownership developed with Clan Chattan, of whom Mackintosh was chief - it was one of the longest and bloodiest feuds in Highland history, lasting over 300 years.

Clan Cameron was well served by its early chiefs. Donald Dubh's son, Alan nan Creach, was said to have made '32 expeditions into his enemy's country for the 32 that he lived and 3 more for the three-quarters of a year that he was in his mother's womb'. His son was the first chief to be known as Lochiel. Clan Cameron was now the dominant clan in Lochaber and by the early 17th century (and despite the turbulence caused by the power of Huntly and Argyll) maintained its grip on the clan lands which are still today in the hands of the chief.

Sir Ewen Dubh, 18th Chief, born in 1629, was one of the greatest of Highland chiefs. His prime concern throughout his 70 years as chief was to maintain the individuality and independence of his clan. Continuing the tradition of his grandfather, who had risen for Montrose and Charles I, Ewen supported the Stewart kings. He fought a guerrilla campaign against Cromwell's occupying forces, supported Charles II and rallied behind John Graham of Claverhouse. 'Bonnie Dundee', at Killiecrankie.

With the strong Jacobite tradition of the clan, it was natural that Prince Charles Edward Stewart expected Lochiel and his clan to support him when he landed in Scotland in 1745. In the 1715 rising, the clan had fought for the Stewart cause under John, the XVIII chief, who having been exiled subsequently made over the estate to his son Donald, later the XIX chief and known as 'the Gentle Lochiel'. After his distinguished part in the '45 he escaped to France with Prince Charles, but his brother, Alexander, Jesuit chaplain to the Young Pretender, was captured after Culloden and died in a prison hulk on the Thames. Another brother, Archibald, was a doctor and an ADC to the Prince. He esacped to France but returned to Scotland, was betrayed and executed in 1753, the last man to die for the Jacobite cause.

In 1784 the General Act of Indemnity was passed and the XXII chief was able to buy back his forfeited estates. Clansmen looked forward to his coming and to the return of the old ways, but 40 years had passed and times had changed. The Gentle Lochiel had left Lochaber as the father and protector of his people; his grandson returned as a landlord. Clan Cameron in its old form had ceased to exist and clansfolk were scattered far and wide. However, clan loyalties and traditions were given a new life when the Clan Association was formed in 1889. There are now branches of the Association in nearly all the countries where Camerons are found.

The Camerons have continued to be well served by their chiefs. Donald XXIV was a Member of Parliament and also Lord Lieutenant for Inverness-shire and both his son and grandson (the present chief) were created Knights of the Thistle and Lord Lieutenants of Inverness-shire.

The clan's armorial bearings are gules (red), three bars or (gold). Until 1745 the crest was an arm holding a sword with the motto Pro Rege et Patria. Another crest then emerged, five arrows with the motto Unite. The present Lochiel uses both with mottos in the Gaelic form.

The plant badge of the Camerons is the oak.

There are four tartans associated with the clan: Cameron of Lochiel (the personal tartan of the chief and his immediate family), Clan Cameron, Hunting Cameron and Cameron of Erracht. This last was devised for the 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, a regiment which was raised by Alan Cameron of Erracht in 1793.

! Alba Gu Brath !

Sam Hartland 6th July 2003

Hope you can help me out on this one. I have friends who live over in Canada. Some friends of theirs went over to Scotland and to a particular pub that had a sign over the door 'NO Camerons served here' I wonder if you could tell me why? Unfortunately, These friends do not remember where they were or what the pub was called!!!!! Not very helpful, Eh.
    I have had a look on the net about the Cameron family and wonder if it is to do with the support of the English and the Stuart kings or the fueds between Clan Chatton, the head of the Mackintosh family?
    Can you please help us?
P.S. I think your website is really good and the most informative.

[ We think think that your friends are perhaps mixing up the Campbells and the Camerons. Because of the role that the Campbells had in the 'massacre of Glencoe', there is supposed ill-feeling on the part of MacDonalds towards Campbells to this day. Signs saying "No Campbells" have been displayed at the Clachaig Inn at Glen Coe, and at the Kingshouse Inn, Rannoch moor (reputedly the oldest Inn in Britain), and perhaps at other hotels in the area. J&L ]