MacLeod Clan

MacLeod Clan Crest: A bull's head between two flags.

MacLeod Clan Motto: Hold Fast.

History of Clan MacLeod:
Olaf the Black was the Norse King of Man and the Isles who lived in the early 13th century. Leod was his younger son who, around 1220, married the daughter and heiress of MacRaild on Skye. She brought him Dunvegan Castle, and, when his father died, he inherited the islands of Lewis and Harris.  Following the defeat of King Haakon of Norway at the Battle of Largs in 1263, Leod found himself virtually in control of the Hebrides.

Leod had four sons. Tormod, the eldest, inherited Dunvegan and Harris, becoming Chief of these lands and adopting the name MacLeod of Dunvegan (“Siol Tormod”). Torquil, Leod's second son, (“Siol Torquil”) inherited Lewis and Raasay, and in due course came into possession of Assynt, Cogeach and Gareloch on the mainland.

The MacLeods of Dunvegan supported Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Independence and followed the Lords of the Isles at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. Fortunately, MacLeod managed to remain in favour throughout the Crown's attempts to subdue the Highland Chiefs, largely through the efforts of Alasdair Crotach who, in 1542, after a long dispute with the MacDonalds of Sleat, secured the title to Trotternish in the north of Skye.

After Alasdair's death, the Chiefship passed to his daughter and, after an interlude when it was seized by a kinsman, to Alasdair's brother Norman, whose son Ruaridh Mor became 15th Chief in 1595.

The MacLeods of Dunvegan fought for the Royalist Cause at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and over 500 MacLeod Clansmen were killed making it impossible for them to participate affectively in either the 1715 or 1745 Jacobite Uprisings. When Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland, the Dunvegan MacLeods, convinced that he was lacking the necessary resources and men to succeed, refused to join him.

Hugh Magnus MacLeod, 30th Chief of the Clan MacLeod, succeeded his father who died in February 2007.

John MacLeod of MacLeod, 29th Chief, succeeded his grandmother Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod in 1976. The 29th chief caused outrage when he put the Black Cuillins in Skye up for sale to pay for repairs to Dunvegan Castle.

Dame Flora was born at 10 Downing Street, London, in 1878, when it was the home of her grandfather, Lord Northcote, who was Chancellor of the Chequer. It was Dame Flora who first opened up the castle to the general public.  The Clan MacLeod Society of Scotland was founded in 1891.

Mary Macleod (1615-1705), born at Rodel, on Harris, was a celebrated poetess. John MacLeod (1757-1841) helped in the publication of The Gaelic Bible and Dictionary. Norman Macleod (1783-1862) was the son of the Minister of Morvern and wrote religious books in Gaelic and English. John MacLeod (1876-1935) was educated at Aberdeen, Leipzig and Cambridge and became Professor of Physiology at Cleveland, Ohio. In 1922, he was one of the discoverers of insulin. Baron MacLeod of Fuinary, second son of Sir John MacLeod Bt, a Glasgow Member of Parliament, founded the Iona Community.

Surname distribution in Scotland: The MacLeod name is most common in The Western Isles (the main islands include Lewis and Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula and Barra), Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Highland (an amalgamation of the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland), Shetland, Edinburgh and the Lothians, Perth and Kinross, Glasgow City, Dumbartonshire, Argyllshire and the Borders.

Places of Interest:
Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye. Ancestral home of the MacLeod Chiefs. A major restoration was carried out by the 25th Chief between 1840 and 1850.  The castle is open daily during the Summer months.

Kilmuir Church, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. Burial place of the last five Chiefs of MacLeod.

St Andrews, Fife. The tomb of the 22nd Chief of MacLeod is situated against the west wall of St Andrews Cathedral.

The MacCrimmon Cairn, Boreraig, Isle of Skye. The MacCrimmons were Hereditary Pipers to the MacLeod Chiefs.

St Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh. The tomb of the 23rd Chief of MacLeod is facing the apse.

Isle of Iona. Leod and the following six Chiefs of MacLeod are buried here.

St  Clement's Church, Rodel, Isle of Harris. Built by Alasdair Crotach (hump-back). The 8th and 9th Chiefs of Dunvegan are buried here.

The Rodel Hotel, Rodel, Isle of Harris. Built in 1871, this was the home of Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan and Harris.

Associated family names (Septs): Beaton, Bethune, Beton, Grimmond, Harold, Harold, MacAndie, MacCaig, MacClure, MacCrimmon, MacCuaig, MacHarold, MacLure, MacRaild, MacWilliam, Norman, Normand, Williamson.

Clan MacLeod members display certificates.