MacDonald Clan Crest: On a crest coronet, an armoured hand holding a cross.
MacDonald Clan Motto: Per Mare Per Terras (By sea and land).
History of Clan MacDonald:
Clan Donald is beyond doubt the largest of all the Highland clans, at one time controlling virtually the whole of Scotland's western seaboard from the Butt of Lewis in the North to the Mull of Kintyre in the South, with possessions in Ireland and the Isle of Man.
It is said that the Clan descends from Conn of the Hundred Battles, Ard Righ of Ireland in the 1st century AD through Colla Uais, the first of the family to settle in the Hebrides, and from whom comes the designation 'Clan Cholla,' the Children of Coll.
Somerled, who was Lord of Argyll in the 12th century, made repeated attempts to repel the Viking invaders, but solved the problem by marrying Ragnhildis. daughter of the King of Norway. Through marriage and conquest, he was able to acquire control of the Western islands and, after his death, his sons inherited their shares. From them descend the MacDougalls of Argyll and Lorn, and Clan Donald, sometimes known as the MacDonalds of Islay.
It is important to understand, however, that Clan Donald has various branches with their own Chiefs. The name of Clan Donald itself derives from Donald of Islay, great-grandson of Somerled, who had a number of children, but in particular two sons, Angus Mor and Alasdair Mor. From the latter descend the Clan Alister, the MacAllisters of Loup.
Angus Mor's son, John of Islay, supported Robert the Bruce in his bid to become King of Scots and as a result, was granted many of the vast possessions held by his ancestors. In 1354, he took the title Lord of the Isles and married the heiress of Garmoran, the Uists, Benbecula, the Small Isles and half of Lochaber. From his natural son descend the MacIan MacDonalds of Glencoe; from his eldest son by this marriage, descend the MacDonalds of Clanranald and the MacDonells of Glengarry
By his second marriage to Princess Margaret of Scotland, daughter of King Robert II, there were three sons. The eldest succeeded as Lord of the Isles; the second son founded the MacDonalds of Islay and Kintyre, and from the third son came the MacDonalds of Keppoch who, through marriage to Marjorie Bisset of Antrim in Ireland, became the ancestor of the MacDonnels of Antrim.
Gaelic culture flourished under the Lords of the Isles, and in 1424, Alexander of the Isles inherited, through his mother, the earldom of Ross. He was succeeded by his son John, the 4th and last MacDonald Lord of the Isles. This Chief's inability to govern brought about an inter-family civil war. The Crown intervened and at a naval engagement known as the 'Battle of Bloody Bay', the Lord of the Isles was defeated. The title was forfeited in 1493, since when it has remained with the dukedom of Rothesay and is today retained for the eldest son of the reigning British monarch.
The decline of the MacDonald dynasty runs parallel with the decline of Gaelic culture. Despite attempts by various MacDonald leaders to re-establish the old order, particularly against the rise of Campbell power in their region, by the 17th century the various Clan Donald branches – Sleat, Clanranald, Glengarry, Keppoch and Glencoe – had all become independent.
In 1947, the Lord Lyon King of Arms granted Alexander Macdonald of Macdonald, 7th Lord Macdonald, the undifferenced Arms of MacDonald, Chief of the Name and Arms.
Jacques Etienne MacDonald (1765-1840), was the son of a Jacobite schoolmaster. He supported both the French Revolution and the Emperor Napoleon, and was made a Marshal of France and created Duke of Taranto.
Sir John Alexander MacDonald (1815-91) was born in Glasgow, emigrated with his parents to Canada and, in 1867, became Prime Minister of Canada.
Sir Hector MacDonald (1852-1903), born at Dingwall, was the hero of the British Sudan Campaign. James Ramsay Macdonald (1866-1937) was born at Lossiemouth and became British Prime Minister in 1924. Malcolm MacDonald (1901-81), son of Ramsay MacDonald, was Governor General of Malaya and Borneo from 1946 to 1948, Commissioner-General in South East Asia from 1948 to 1855, and Governor General of Kenya from 1963 to 1964.
Surname distribution in Scotland: The MacDonald surname is common right across Scotland. The highest concentrations are to be found in Highland (includes the former Highland Region districts of Sutherland, Caithness, Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh, Inverness, Nairn, Lochaber and Badenoch and Strathspey), Aberdeenshire (includes all of the historic counties of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire with part of Banffshire), Moray (Elginshire), Angus (Forfarshire), Dundee City, the Western Isles (the main islands are Lewis and Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula and Barra. Glasgow City, Argyllshire, Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire.
Places of Interest:
The Clan Donald Centre, Armadale Castle, Sleat, Isle of Skye. Armadale Castle, now a ruin, was built in 1815 for Lord Macdonald of Sleat.
Finlaggan, Isle of Islay. Here are the palatial ruins of the residence of the Lords of the Isles.
Dunnyvaig Castle, Isle of Islay. The ruined seat of the MacDonalds of Islay and Kintyre.
The North Lorn Folk Museum, Glencoe. There is a memorial to the McIan MacDonalds who perished in the notorious Glencoe massacre of 1692.
Glenfinnan, Inverness-shire. A monument to commemorate the men who fought for Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising was raised at the head of Loch Shiel in 1815 by Alexander MacDonald of Glenaladale. It is maintained by the National Trust for Scotland.
Associated family names (Septs): Alastair, Allister, Anderson, Ballach, Beath, Beaton, Bethune, Bowie, Brodie, Budge, Buie, Bulloch, Cambridge, Cathal, Cathil, Cochran, Cochrane, Coll, Colson, Conn, Connal, Connell, Cook, Cooke, Coull, Coulson, Cririe, Cromb, Croom, Crum, Daniel, Daniels, Darrach, Darroch, Donald, Donaldson, Donnell, Drain, Dunnel, Forrest, Forrester, Galbraith, Gall, Galt, Gauld, Gaul, Gilbride, Gill, Gorrie, Gorry, Gowan, Gowans, Hawthorn, Heron, Hewison, Houstoun, Houston, Howat, Hoew, Howie, Howison, Hudson, Hutcheon, Hutcheson, Hutchin, Hutchinson, Hutchison, Hutchon, Hutson, Isles, Jeffrey, Keegan, Keighren, Kelly, Kinnell, Laing, Lang, Leitch, MacArthur, MacBeath, MacBheath, MacBrayne, MacBride, MacBryde, MacCaa, MacCairn, MacCambridge, MacCarron, MacCaw, MacCAy, MacCluskie, MacCodrum, MacColl, MacConnal, MacConnell, MacCooish, MacCook, MacCosham, MacCrain, MacCran, MacCririe, MacCrorie, MacCrum, MacCuaig, MacCuish, MacCuithein, MacCutchen, MacCutcheon, MacDaniell, MacDrain, MacEachern, MacEachran, MacElfrish, MacElhearn, MacGaa, MacGaw, MacGeachy, MacGechie, MacGee, MacGhee, MacGhie, MacGill, MacGorrie, MacGorry, MacGoun, MacGow, MacGowan, MacGown, MacGrain, MacHugh, MacHutchen, MacHutcheon, MacIllrick, MacIlreach, MacIlrevie, MacIlriach, MacIlwraith, MacIlwrick, MacKay, MacKeachie, MacKee, MacKellaig, MacKelloch, MacKerron, MacKey, MacKie, MacKiggan, MacKinnell, MacLairish, MacLardy, MacLarty, MacLaverty, MacLeverty, MacMurchie, MacMurchy, MacMurdo, MacMurdoch, MacO'Shannaig, MacQuilkan, MacQuistan, MacQuisten, MacRaith, MacRorie, MacRory, MacRuer, MacRury, MacRyrie, MacSorley, MacSporran, MacSwan, MacSween, MacWhan, MacWhannell, Mark, Marquis, Martin, May, Murchie, Murchison, Murdoch, Murdoson, Murphy, O'May, Paton, Patten, Peden, Purcell, Reoch, Revie, Riach, Roderick, Rorie, Rorison, Ryrie, Shannon, Shennan, Sorley, Sorlie, Sporran, Train, Whannell, Wheelan, Whelan, Wilkie, Wilkinson.