The Full Wiki

Clan Donald: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Clan Donald

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clan Donald
Crest badge
Clan member crest badge - Clan Macdonald.svg
Region Highland and Islands
District Inverness-shire
Plant badge Common heath

Arms of Macdonald of Macdonald.svg
Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald
The 8th Baron Macdonald, Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald, High Chief of Clan Donald and 34th hereditary Chief of Clan Donald.

Clan Donald is one of the largest Scottish clans. There are numerous branches to the clan. Several of these have chiefs recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms; these are: Clan Macdonald of Sleat, Clan Macdonald of Clanranald, Clan MacDonell of Glengarry, Clan MacDonald of Keppoch, and Clan MacAlister. Notable branches without chiefs so-recognised are: the McDonnells of Antrim, the MacDonalds of Dunnyveg, MacDonalds of Lochalsh, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and the MacDonalds of Ardnamurchan.





The Norse-Gaelic Clan Donald traces its descent from Dòmhnall Mac Raghnuill (d. circa 1250),[1] whose father Reginald or Ranald was styled "King of the Isles" and "Lord of Argyll and Kintyre".[2] Ranald's father, Somerled was styled "King of the Hebrides", and was killed campaigning against Malcolm IV of Scotland at the Battle of Renfrew in 1164. Clan Donald shares a descent from Somerled with Clan MacDougall, who trace their lineage from his elder son, Dugall mac Somhairle.[3] Their dynasties are together commonly referred to as the Clann Somhairle.

Gaelic tradition gave Somerled a Celtic descent in the male line,[2][4] as the medieval Seanachies traced his lineage through a long line of ancestors back to Colla Uais and Conn of the Hundred Battles.[5] Thus Clan Donald claimed to be both Clann Cholla and Siol Chuinn (Children of Colla and Seed of Conn).[6] Possibly the oldest piece of poetry attributed to the MacDonalds is a brosnachadh (an incitement to battle) which was said to have been written in 1411, on the day of the Battle of Harlaw.[6] The first lines of the poem begin "A Chlanna Cuinn cuimhnichibh / Cruas an àm na h-iorghaile," (Ye children of Conn remember hardihood in the time of battle).[6] A later poem made to John of Islay (1434–1503), last of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, proclaims "Ceannas Ghàidheal do Chlainn Cholla, còir fhògradh," (The Headship of the Gael to the family of Colla, it is right to proclaim it), giving MacDonald's genealogy back to Colla Uais.[6]

However a recent DNA study has shown that Somerled may have been of Norse descent in his male line.[7] By testing the Y-DNA of males bearing the surnames MacDonald, MacDougall, MacAlister, and their variants it was found that a substantial proportion of men tested shared the same Y-DNA and a direct paternal ancestor.[8] This distinct Y-chromosome R1a1 haplotype found in Scotland has been regarded as often showing Norse descent in the British Isles.[7] According to the Clan Donald USA DNA Project about 22% of tested participants have this signature,[9] but despite the sensational claims it remains far from proven that Somerled himself was of paternal Norse ancestry. A non-paternity event remains a possible cause.

Scottish-Norwegian War

The MacDonalds had always supported Norway. However, this alliance broke when the Norwegians were defeated at the Battle of Largs in 1263 by Scottish forces. Norway's King Haakon was defeated and his fleet was wrecked by the skilled manoeuvres of King Alexander III of Scotland and the Clan MacDougall. Three years later, the Norwegians submitted their last islands to the Scottish crown. Aonghas Mòr, the son of Dòmhnall, then made peace with King Alexander III of Scotland.

Wars of Scottish Independence

The MacDonalds fought with Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. It was Donald's great grandson, Angus Og of Islay who was the 6th Lord of the Isles who sheltered King Robert the Bruce. Angus led a small band of Islesmen at the Battle of Bannockburn. In recognition of Clan Donalds support King Robert the Bruce proclaimed that Clan Donald would always occupy the honored position on the right wing of the Scottish army.

First Lord of the Isles

The clan takes its name 'Donald' from the name of the 1st Lord of the Isles who was the grandson of King Somerled who lived until 1269. Donald's son was the original 'Mac' which means 'son of'. It was Donald's great grandson, Angus Og who was the 6th Lord of the Isles who sheltered King Robert the Bruce. In recognition of Clan Donalds support King Robert the Bruce proclaimed that Clan Donald would always occupy the honored position on the right wing of the Scottish army.

In 1380 the Clan MacLean, Clan MacLeod and Clan Mackinnon were together all defeated in battle by Donald Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, who vindicated his right as Lord of the Isles.

15th century

Earldom of Ross

The title and territory of the Earl of Ross had originally been held by the Chief of Clan Ross. However Angas Og's grandson, Dòmhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles married the first female heiress of the Earl of Ross. He later successfully claimed the position of Earl of Ross through marriage. This was secured by the Battle of Harlaw on 24 July 1411 where most of the highland clans supported Donald in preventing the Duke of Albany and his army of Scottish Lowlanders from claiming the position for himself. However by 1415 the Earldom of Ross was lost as Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany had seized Dingwall Castle and Easter Ross. Dòmhnall prepared for war and proclaimed himself "Lord of Ross". Although Albany appointed his own son John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Buchan as the new Earl of Ross. However, later the MacDonald chiefs would again become the Earls of Ross, firstly Alexander of Islay, Earl of Ross and then his son John of Islay, Earl of Ross who surrendered the earldom in 1476 to James Stewart, Duke of Ross.

16th century

MacDonald of the Isles (MakDonnald of ye Ylis) tartan, as published in the Vestiarium Scoticum in 1842.

The position of Lord of the Isles which the MacDonald chief had held since the 13th century had been revoked in 1495. However the MacDonalds remained a powerful clan and retained much of their lands until much violence broke out in the middle of the 16th century.

17th Century and the Civil War

  • Massacre of Glencoe, 1692, 38 unarmed MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were murdered in the Massacre of Glencoe when an initiative to suppress Jacobitism was entangled in the long running feud between Clan MacDonald and Clan Campbell. The slaughter of the host MacDonalds at the hands of their Campbell guests was a major affront to Scottish Law and Highland tradition.

18th century

  • During the Jacobite risings of 1715 the British Government forces, including some units drawn from Clan Campbell fought against the Jacobite rebels, made up, amongst others, of the men of Clan Donald who were under MacDonald of Keppoch and the Clan Macdonald of Clanranald whose chief was killed. However there were in fact some Campbells who took the Jacobites' side, led by the son of Campbell of Glenlyon whose father had commanded the government troops at the Massacre of Glencoe 22 years earlier. The two young men buried the hatchet and swore to be brothers in arms, fighting side by side in the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The British forces defeated the Jacobites.
  • The Clan MacDonald of Sleat branch did not take part in the Jacobite Uprisings therefore the Sleat possessions remained intact.


In 1947, the Lord Lyon King of Arms granted the undifferenced arms of Macdonald of Macdonald to Alexander Godfrey, making him the first High Chief of Clan Donald. After his death in 1970, Alexander Godfrey Macdonald of Macdonald was succeeded by his son Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald, 8th Lord Macdonald, who is the current high chief of Clan Donald.[22]


Over the centuries MacDonald castles have included:

Clan Donald castles

MacDonald clan branch castles

Clan profile

  • Clan chief: Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald, 8th Lord Macdonald, Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald, High Chief of Clan Donald and 34th hereditary Chief of Clan Donald.[22]
  • Chiefly arms: The coat of arms of the current chief is blazoned: Quarterly, 1st, argent, a lion rampant gules, armed and langued azure; 2nd; Or, a hand in armour fessways holding a cross-crosslet fitchee gules; 3rd, Or, a lymphad sails furled and oars in action sable, Flagged gules; 4th, vert, a salmon naiant in fess proper, over all on an escutcheon en surtout, Or, an eagle displayed gules surmounted of a lymphad sails furled, oars in action sable (as Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald). Above the shield is placed his lordship’s coronet, thereon an helmet befitting his degree with a mantling gules doubled ermine, and on a crest coronet Or is set for crest a hand in armour fessways couped at the elbow proper holding a cross-crosslet fitchee gules, and in an escrol over the same this motto 'per mare per terras', and on a compartment of rocks and heather proper issuant from the waves undy along with this motto 'fraoch eilean', are set for supporters two leopards proper.[22] The chief's motto per mare per terras translates from Latin as "by sea and land";[28] the motto fraoch eilean translates from Scottish Gaelic as "the heathery isle".[citation needed]
  • Clan member's crest badge: The crest badge suitable for members of the clan contains the chief's heraldic crest and motto. The crest is: On a crest coronet Or, a hand in armour fessways couped at the elbow proper holding a cross crosslet fitchée gules.[28]
  • Clan badge: The clan badge or plant badge attributed to the clan is common heath. This plant is attributed to the other Macdonald clans and some other associated clans such as Clan MacIntyre and the Macqueens of Skye.[29]

Clan chiefs

The following is a list of some of the early chiefs of Clan Donald.[30]

Name Died Notes
Dòmhnall Dubh 1545 Rebelled against the king of Scotland but made an alliance with the king of England.
Aonghas Òg 1490 'Bastard' son of John of Islay. Last MacDonald Lord of the Isles.
John of Islay, Earl of Ross 1503 Fought at the Battle of Bloddy Bay against his son.
Alexander of Islay, Earl of Ross 1449 His other sons were Celestine of Lochalsh and Hugh of Sleat.
Dòmhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles 1422/3 Fought at the Battle of Harlaw.
John of Islay, Lord of the Isles 1380 His other sons were John Mòr (Earls of Antrim) and Alastair Carroch of Keppoch.
Aonghas Òg of Islay 1329/16 Fought at the Battle of Bannockburn. Other son was Ian Fraoch of Glencoe.
Aonghas Mór (Angus Mor MacDonald) 1292 His other sons were Alastair Og (deposed) and John Sprangach of Ardnamurchan.
Dòmhnall Mac Raghnuill (Donald) 1250 From who the Clan Donald takes its name.
Raghnall Mac Somhairle (Ranald) 1207 Other son was Ruairidh of Clanranald.
Somerled 1164 Killed at the Battle of Renfrew.

Clan septs

  • Septs of Clan Donald include the following. Other branches of Clan Macdonald have different septs.

Alexander, Beath, Beaton, Bethune, Bowie, Budge, Colson, Connall, Connell,Cram,Crum, Danalds, Darroch, Donald, Donaldson, Donillson, Donnelson, Drain, Galbraith, Galt, Gilbride, Gorrie, Gowan, Gowrie, Hawthorn, Hewison, Houstoun, Howison, Hudson, Hughson, Hutcheonson, Hutchinson, Hutchison, Isles, Kellie, Kelly, Kinnell, Leitch, Mac a' Challies, MacBeth, MacBeath, MacBheath, MacBride, MacBryde,[31] MacCaishe, MacCall, MacCash, MacCeallaich, MacCodrum, MacColl, MacConnell, MacCook, MacCooish, MacCrain, MacCuag, MacCuish, MacCuitein, MacCutcheon, MacDaniell, Macdrain, MacEachern, MacElfrish, MacElheran, MacGorrie, MacGorry, MacGoun, MacGowan, MacGown, MacHugh, MacHutchen, MacHutcheon, MacIan, Macilreach, Macilriach, Macilleriach, Macilrevie, Macilvride, Macilwraith, MacIsaac, MacKean, MacKellachie, MacKellaig, MacKelloch, MacKiggan, MacKinnell, MacLairish, MacLardie, MacLardy, MacLarty, MacLaverty, MacLeverty, MacMurchie, MacMurdo, MacMurdoch, MacO'Shannaig, MacQuistan, MacQuisten, MacRaith, MacRorie, MacRory, MacRuer, MacRurie(MacRury- Contester of the Lord of the Isles), MacShannachan, MacSorley, MacSporran, MacSwan, MacWhannell, Martin, May, McReyolds, McRuer, Murchie, Murchison, Murdoch, Murdoson, Murphy, O'Drain, O'May, O'Shannachan, O'Shaig, O'Shannaig, Patton, Purcell, Revie, Reoch, Riach, Rorison, Shannon, Sorley, Sporran, Train, Whannel, Wheelans, Wheelens, Whillans, Whillens, Wilkie, Wilkinson, Wilkins, Willans, Willens.

See also


  1. ^ Donald, Lord of the Isles Retrieved on 2007-10-09
  2. ^ a b Moncreiffe, pp. 127–131.
  3. ^ Dougal Retrieved on 2007-10-04
  4. ^ MacDonald, Donald J. Clan Donald.
  5. ^ Gregory, p. 10.
  6. ^ a b c d The Macdonald Bardic Poetry Part 1 by Professor W. J. Watson Retrieved on 2007-10-09
  7. ^ a b Johnston, Ian. "DNA shows Celtic hero Somerled's Viking roots". The Scotsman, 26 April 2005. Retrieved on 2007-10-09
  8. ^ Sykes, p.214.
  9. ^ Other Ancestry: The 'Mostly Celtic' Clan Donald Retrieved on 2007-10-09
  10. ^ "History of the House and Clan of MacKay" (1829) by Robert MacKay, p.53 - 54, quoting from the "Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland" by Dir Robert Gordon (1580 to 1656).
  11. ^ The Battle of Split Allegiances@Clan
  12. ^ Conflicts of the Clans Battle of Blar-na-Pairc@Electric Scotland
  13. ^ "The Clan Ranald". 
  14. ^ Notes
  15. ^ MacRuarie – McCreary
  16. ^ a b c d ’Conflicts of the Clans’ published in 1764 by the Foulis press, written from a manuscript wrote in the reign of James VI of Scotland. [1]
  17. ^ Donald Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland from A.D. 1493 to A.D. 1625.
  18. ^ Clan MacLeod@Electric
  19. ^ Roberts, John Leonard (1999), Feuds, Forays and Rebellions: History of the Highland Clans, 1475-1625, Edinburgh University Press, pp. 140–1, ISBN 9780748662449, 
  20. ^ Royle, Trevor (2004), Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660, London: Abacus, ISBN 0-349-11564-8  p.143
  21. ^ The Carolingian Era, Retrieved 28 August 2008
  22. ^ a b c "Lord Macdonald of Macdonald". Retrieved 18 May 2009. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b George Way of Plean; Squire 2000: p. 170.
  29. ^ Adam, Frank; Innes of Learney, Thomas (1970). The Clans, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands (8th ed.). Edinburgh: Johnston and Bacon. pp. 541–543. 
  30. ^ Finlaggan Trust
  31. ^ Clan Donald - List of Family Names, Branches and Septs


  • Gregory, Donald. History Of The Western Highlands And Isles Of Scotland, From A.D. 1493 To A.D. 1625. Edinburgh: William Tait, 1836.
  • MacDonald, Donald J. Clan Donald. 1978.
  • Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Sir Ian. The Highland Clans. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-517-546580.
  • Sykes, Bryan. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts : the genetic roots of Britain and Ireland. New York : W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. ISBN 9780393062687.
  • Way, George; Squire, Romilly (2000). Clans & Tartans. Glasgow: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-472501 8. 

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address