Cameron Crest: A sheaf of five arrows.
Cameron Clan Motto: Aonaibh Ri Cheile (Unite).
Cameron Clan History:
There are differences of opinion as to the origin of the Cameron surname. The most popular theory is that it derives from the Gaelic 'cam-shron', which means 'crooked hill' or 'crooked nose,' possibly a reference to the facial features of Donald Dubh, the first recorded chief of the clan. It was Donald Dubh who led the clan under Donald, Lord of the Isles, at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.
Before this, in 1396, had taken place the Battle of the North Inch in
Perth. It is not known for certain that this was a contest between Clan
Cameron and Clan Mackintosh, but tradition has it that it was called to
settle their differences. Twelve men were selected from each clan
to fight each other with sword and targe before Robert III. The outcome
was indecisive and the feud between the two clans continued for the following
Donald Dubh married the heiress of the MacMartins of Letterfinlay and, as a result, became Captain of a confederation of West Coast tribes incorporating the MacMartins of Letterfinlay, the MacSorleys of Glen Nevis and the MacGillonies of Strone. From him originates the Gaelic patronym associated with all Cameron Chiefs to this day - MacDhomhnuill Duibh (the son of the dark haired or swarthy Donald).
Donald Dubh led the Camerons in support of Alexander, 3rd Lord of the Isles when he attacked and sacked the town of Inverness. However, when they were later intercepted by James I, the Camerons joined forces with the King. Alexander never forgave Donald Dubh for his betrayal and, after the King's murder in 1437, drove him into exile and handed the Cameron clan lands over to the Macleans of Coll. They were won back at the Battle of Corpach in 1439.
In the 16th century, Clan Cameron territory, which comprised the west side of Loch Lochy, Glen Loy and Loch Arkaig, Glen Kingie, Glen Dessary, Glen Pean, Glen Mallie, and Mamore, was united by a Royal Charter into the Barony of Locheil.
The Camerons were staunch Jacobite supporters, and Sir Ewen Cameron, having in 1650 witnessed the execution of James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose in Edinburgh, fought with John Graham, Viscount Dundee at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. In 1715, he made over his estates to his grandson Donald in order to be free to rally the Clan in support of the Old Pretender. The Uprising failed and he was driven into exile.
Sir Ewen's grandson, Donald, known as 'The Gentle Locheil,' was at first reluctant to support the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart but, on meeting the Prince face-to-face, was persuaded. Had he not brought the clan out in favour of the Prince, the 1745 Uprising might never have taken place. In later years, he always regretted that he had allowed the Prince's charm to get the better of his better judgement. Following the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he went into exile and died in France.
The repercussions which followed the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden were appalling for the Highlands, and for the Camerons in particular. Clan lands were forfeit and Locheil's castle at Achnacarry, which stood close to the site of the present mansion, was destroyed. It was thirty eight years before the estate was returned to The Gentle Locheil's grandson, and it was he who commissioned the Scottish architect James Gillespie to begin the building of a new house on the banks of the River Arkaig.
The 79th Cameron Highlanders was raised by Alan Cameron of Erracht in 1793. The Regiment distinguished itself during the Napoleonic Wars in Egypt, the Peninsular Campaigns, and at the Battle of Waterloo. In 1873, it was honoured by Queen Victoria and became The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. In 1961 the Regiment was amalgamated with the Seaforth Highlanders and became the "The Queen's Own Highlanders" (Seaforth & Camerons).
Richard Cameron (1648-80) was a schoolmaster at Falkland in Fife and became
a Covenanting Field Preacher. He headed up the Covenant extremists who
took his name.
Sir David Young Cameron (1865-1945). Born in Glasgow, he specialised in painting Highland landscapes and in 1933 was appointed King's Painter and Limner in Scotland.
Places of Interest:
Achnacarry, Spean Bridge. Invernesshire. Seat of the Cameron Chief, who is simply known in the Highlands of Scotland as “Locheil.” The present day mansion house stands beside the original castle which was destroyed in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden. There is a Clan Cameron Museum and a Clan Cameron Reading Room for visitors. Kilmallie, Lochaber. An obelisk commemorates Colonel John Cameron of Fassifern who fell at the Battle of Quatre Bras in 1815. North Inch, Perth. Scene of the Battle of the Clans in 1396. West Highland Museum, Cameron Square, Fort William. Exhibitions and relics on the history of Lochaber.
Associated family names (Septs): Cambrin, Cambron, Camern, Cameronne,
Cameroun, Camerown, Cammeron, Campbroun, Camprone, Camproun, Camron, Camrone,
Camroun, Camrowne, Camrun, Camshron, Camsroin, Caumberen, Caumbroun, Chalmers,
Chambers, Chlerich, Chlery, Clark, Clarke, Clarkson, Cleary, Cleireach,
Clerk, Cummings of Achdalieu, Dowie, Gibbon, Gilbert, Gilbertson, Gillonie,
Kennedy of Lianachan, Leary, Lonie, MacAldowie, MacAlonie, MacChlery, MacChlerich,
MacClair, MacClear, MacGillery, MacGillonie, MacGuillonie, MacIldowie,
MacKail, MacKell, MacKenzie of Onich, MacKenzie of Ballachulish, MacKildowie,
MacLachlan of Coruanan,
MacLear, MacLeary, MacLerie, MacMartin, MacMasters, MacMillan of Murlaggan, MacMillan of Caillich, MacOnie MacPhail, MacPhee of Glendessary, MacSorley, MacSorlie, MacUlrig, MacVail, MacVaile, MacVaill, MacVale, MacVee of Glendessary, Martin, Paul, Sorley, Sorlie, Stronach, Taylor of Cowal.
Surname distribution: The Cameron surname is most commonly found in Highland (incorporates the old historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland with small parts of Argyllshire and Morayshire (Elginshire), Perth and Kinross (Perthshire and Kinross-shire), Glasgow and Dunbartonshire.