Forbes Clan

Forbes Clan Crest: A stags head.

Forbes Clan Motto: Grace Me Guide.

Forbes Clan History:
The surname derives from the Braes of Forbes in Aberdeenshire and one fanciful tradition has it that the Forbes ancestor, one Ochonochar, from Ireland, slew a bear and took possession of the up-until-then uninhabitable territory. In a Charter from Alexander III in 1271, the tenure was altered to become feudal.
In the late 13th century, Alexander de Forbes was a fierce opponent of Edward I of England's claim to be Overlord of Scotland and he died defending Urquhart Castle. His son was killed supporting David II against Edward Balliol at the Battle of Dupplin in 1332.  From his son, Sir John de Forbes, originate the numerous branches of the family, including Brux, Corse, Craigievar, Culloden, Echt, Kildrummy, Monymusk, Pitsligo, Polquhoun, Rothiemay, Skellater and Inverernan

Sir John's eldest son, Alexander, fought against Donald of the Isles at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411 and having married a granddaughter of Robert II, was created Lord Forbes. In the Union Roll of 1707, Forbes was recognised as the premier Lordship of Scotland.

Throughout the 16th century, the Forbes family remained at odds with both the Leslies and the Gordons. With the murder of Seton of Meldrum, the Master of Forbes was accused of conspiring to murder James V.  He was found guilty and executed, but the sentence was over-turned, rather too late for the Master's satisfaction and rather too late to pacify his followers.  The Forbes/Gordon feud came to a head in 1571 with the battles of Tillieangus and Craibstone. Two acts of Parliament were necessary to force the clans to make peace. 

Duncan Forbes of Culloden was Lord President of the Court of Session (1685-1747) at the time of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, opposing the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, but used his influence to ease the cruel repercussions inflicted upon the Highlands in the aftermath.  Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo (1739-1806) became Chief Partner in the banking firm of Coutts & Co. and was a founder member  of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Alexander Penrose Forbes (1817-1875) was consecrated Bishop of Brechin in 1848.

Places of Interest:
Balforbes, Aberdeenshire. Seat of Lord Forbes.
Castle Forbes, Alford, Aberdeenshire. 19th century seat of Lord Forbes.
Craigievar Castle, Alford, Aberdeenshire. Built in 1626 for a Forbes laird 'Danzig Willie' who was a rich merchant. Today owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
Monymusk, Aberdeenshire. Originally, this was an Augustinian Priory mentioned in 1245. Passed to Forbes Family. There is a 16th century tower.
Pitfichie, Monymusk, Aberdeenshire. Owned by Forbes of Monymusk in 17th century.
Drumminor, Rhynie, Aberdeenshire. Fifteenth-century tower of lords Forbes with 1577 mansion incorporated.
Corgarff, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.  In 1571, during the feud between the Forbeses and the Gordons, Corgarff was defended by the wife of the absent Alexander Forbes. The tower was set on fire and rather than surrender, the occupants perished. The ruin was rebuilt as a barracks for Government troops in the 18th century.
Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire. Built by Sir William Forbes, the ruins date from 1424. In 1633 Alexander Forbes was created Baron Forbes of Pitsligo, a title forfeited following the 1745 Jacobite Uprising.
Colquhonnie Castle, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Begun by Forbes of Towie in 16th century. never completed and now a ruin.
Corse Castle, Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire. In the grounds of Corse House. Home of Patrick Forbes, Bishop of Aberdeen (1564 -1636).
Tolquhoun Castle, Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire. Passed to Forbes family through marriage in 16th century
Culloden House, Culloden, Inverness-shire. Home of Lord Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Court of Session at time of 1745 Jacobite Uprising, but requisitioned by Prince Charles Edward Stuart at the time of the Battle of Culloden.  It is now a luxury hotel.

Surname distribution within Scotland: The highest concentrations of the Forbes name occur in Aberdeenshire (includes all of the historic counties of Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire and part of Banffshire), Moray (including most of historic Banffshire), Highland (includes the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland) and Perth and Kinross (Perthshire and Kinross-shire).

Associated family names (Septs): Bannerman, Berrie, Berry, Boyce, Boyes, Fordyce, Lumsden, Macouat, Macowat, MacQuattie, MacWatt, Mechie, Mekie, Meldrum, Michie, Middleton, Walter, Walters, Waters, Watson, Watt, Watters, Wattie, Watts.

Clan Forbes membership certificates.