Timor Omnis Abesto
(Let fear be far from all)
From Gaelic ‘mac-an-aba’ son of the abbott – in this case the Abbott of Glendochart – the Macnabs were a considerable force in the Southern Highlands. They sided against Robert the Bruce (King Robert I) in the Scots Wars of Independence and in consequence had their lands ravaged.
They subsequently rose in strength and to some prominence again in Scotland’s affairs. (A chief’s son died at the Battle of Flodden 1513.) Their sworn enemies were the Neish family around Loch Earn, based to the south of the Macnab lands around Killin.
Symptomatic of a civil war, branches of the clan took opposing sides in the Jacobite uprisings. John Macnab, the clan chief, was an officer in the Government’s famous Black Watch regiment. Others took Bonnie Price Charlie’s side and fought for him at the Battle of Culloden.
The clan’s chief memorial in the area today is the small island on the scenic River Dochart in Killin - their traditional burying ground. They lost much of their lands to the Breadalbane Campbells. Francis (16th Chief) ran up huge debts and fathered many children but no legitimate heir. (There is a famous portrait of him ‘The Macnab’ painted in 1802 by Sir Henry Raeburn.) His nephew, Archibald, 17th Chief, inherited so much debt from him that he had to secretly leave Scotland for Canada, as did many others of the clan. He was the last of the old Clan Chiefs. There is a settlement near Ottawa named MacNab.