Clan Galbraith

Ab Obice Suavior
(Stronger when opposed)

Though Galbraith itself is of Gaelic origins, the two components of the word ‘gall’ and ‘breathnach’ mean stranger/foreigner and British. This is a reference to the origin of the clansfolk as belonging to the ancient Strathclyde kingdom of the Britons, headquartered at Dumbarton. The Galbraiths are therefore a southern Highland clan.

They held lands in the old Earldom of Lennox in the LochLomond area, with their first chief marrying a grand-daughter of the first Earl of Lennox. The clan is associated with Inchgalbraith, an island on Loch Lomond near Luss, which was one of their early strongholds. 

Another branch of the clan was linked to Culcreuch Castle from the early 14th century. The 9th chief joined the unsuccessful rising of the clans against King James I of Scotland, while the 17th chief, Robert Galbraith of Culcreuch, brought ruin to the clan through a family feud that resulted in the loss of his lands. The 19 th chief was the last of the line, inheriting nothing. Clan Galbraith today has no chief and is known in heraldic terms as an ‘armerigous clan’ - meaning a clan with no chief recognised by the Court of the Lord Lyon.

Useful Website Links

Clan Graham

Ne Oublie
(Do not forget)


The name Graham has been prominent in Scotland’s story since earliest times, with the Great Marquess of Montrose playing his part in one of the most romantic chapters in Scotland’s story.The later third Marquess purchased extensive estates by Loch Lomond in 1682, these being acquired from the Buchanans. Buchanan House and its successor, Buchanan Castle, became the clan seat. The 4th Marquess acquired the title Duke of Montrose in 1707, for his part in promoting the Union with England. He became principal Secretary of State in 1714.

They avoided the troubles of the Jacobite uprisings, though the same Duke of Montrose was the instigator of the cattle-dealing business transaction that went awry for the famous Rob Roy Macgregor after his partner disappeared with the Duke’s funds. Some writers speculate that the intention of the Duke all along was to use the Jacobite-sympathising Rob Roy as a political tool –to force him to bear witness against one of Montrose’s political rivals –none other than the Campbell Duke of Argyll - and to say he was colluding with the Jacobites (thus ruining Argyll’s political career prospects!) When Rob refused, Montrose took his revenge –seizing Rob’s lands by Craigrostan on Loch Lomondside, thus further adding to his landholdings in the area.

The seat of the Clan Graham is still Buchanan Castle. The present building dates from 1854, and was built by the 4th Duke of Montrose. The castle was sold in 1925, and became a hospital in World War II –its most famous occupant being the Nazi Rudolf Hess who was taken there after his mysterious flight to Scotland.After that, the roof was removed and the building fell into disrepair. It is currently listed as in need of conservation and restoration.

Useful Website Links


Clan Campbell

Ne Obliviscaris
(Forget Not)


The most powerful clan in Scotland, Clan Campbell with its many branches once held a great swathe of land across and beyond the top end of today’s National Park –from the east end of Loch Tay, to the west as far as the seaboard. They also held extensive grounds in Cowal. The traditional burial place of the Campbell chiefs is at Kilmun.

An early Campbell, Sir Colin of Lochow, helped in the recovery of the castle at Dunoon in the 14thcentury from Edward Baliol. The family played a prominent role in supporting the Stuart monarchy. In the 15th century, another Sir Colin founded one of the greatest of the Cambpbell branches: that of Glenorchy and Glenfalloch, whose head was the Earl of Breadalbane.

Such a far-spreading clan built many castles, including for example, Finlarig at Killin and Edinample by Loch Earn, as well as the important seat of Taymouth, at the east end of Loch Tay. They acquired lands from the Macgregors, as this clan scorned the legal processes represented by feudal tenures. Clan Gregor preferred to hold its land by the ‘right of the sword’. Consequently, when disputes arose with the Campbells, the Macgregors had no documentation, and subsequently lost out!

The Campbell Earl of Argyll was sanctioned in law, as the King’s lieutenant, to keep a close eye on the unruly Macgregors. This was the situation at the time of the Battle of Glen Fruin (1603), when Clan Gregor defeated the Colquhouns. However, some writers unkindly suggest that the Campbell Earl was satisfied with the outcome, which saw the defeat of his enemies, the Colquhouns, yet also allowed him to then punish the Macgregors in the name of the King –such was the murky politics of the time!

One of the most famous Campbells was Sir Duncan Campbell (Black Duncan or Duncan of the Cowl) (born c. 1545) He actually was an enlightened landlord, an early conservationist and tree-planter and, besides the places mentioned above established strongholds at Finlarig, Loch Dochart, Achalader and others, earning himself the further description of ‘Duncan of the Castles’.

Though the title Marquis of Breadalbane became extinct in 1922, the Clan itself remains prominent, with the clan chief’s seat at Inveraray Castle, west of the National Park.

Useful Website Links


Clan Lamont

Ne Parcus nec Spernas
(Neither Spare nor Despise)

During the Scots Wars of Independence, and like the Macnabs, the Lamonts in Cowal backed the wrong side as supporters of john Balliol, the English choice for a puppet king. Forfeiture of lands was the inevitable result. (The Campbells – as ever! – benefited.)

The story of the Lamonts had many twists and turns thereafter, but there was always the presence of the powerful Clan Campbell around them. This, for example, effectively prevented them from any participation in the Jacobite uprisings. Their headquarters was Toward Castle near Toward Point at the south end of Cowal. It was destroyed by the Campbells during the Civil War of 1646. A memorial in Dunoon commemorates the death of many Lamonts in this conflict.

The chiefs of Clan Lamont thereafter lived at Ardlamont until the 21st emigrated in 1893 to Australia. The current chief still lives there.

Useful Website Links

Clan Macnab

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.

Useful Website Links