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Clan Chattan & Invercauld Highlanders

Clan Chattan

The history of the Scottish clans is in large part the story of the clash between a kin-based society and a feudal society. There are a few general characteristics that apply to all clans, for some clans were a combination of smaller clans, many clans subsumed other smaller clans, some historic kin were divided between two clans, and some of the larger clans contained almost independent families. The Clan Chattan does not quite fit any of these criteria, since it is a Confederacy of Clans. 

Behind the Clan Chattan of historic record lay an earlier Clan Chattan, about which there is much speculation. It was probably a Confederacy too, bringing together many small kindred families, probably based in and around Lochaber, but perhaps further afield. History records that the Chief of the Mackintosh family married Eva A Clan Chattan heiress, and thereafter the Mackintosh chiefs were termed Captains of Clan Chattan, and apparently took the leading role. 

A process of expansion, with its expectation of mutual support and protection, may have been an echo of the old Clan Chattan. On the other hand, some Mackintosh descendants became virtually separate clans, while still acknowledging Mackintosh as their “natyff cheiff”, like the Farquharsons and MacThomases. The Shaws came to use their own distinctive kin name rather than Mackintosh. The Macphersons, of the old Clan Chattan, often took an independent line. 

The Clan Chattan Band of Union of 1609 is a remarkable document, which brought together the thirty leading men of the Clan. It is actually a “Contract of Friendship” or a “Contract of Perpetual Amity”. It was between two groups, the Mackintosh family, or kin on the one hand, and various other Clan Chattan families on the other, but the document brings them all together as the “haill kin of Clanchattan”. It relates that past controversies have been disastrous, it agrees to forget past differences, to work together in the future to support each other, and it allows for any future disagreements to be settled by twelve leading men of the Clan Chattan along with the chief. It was signed by the leaders of seven different clans; the Mackintoshes, the Macphersons, the Macqueens, the Macbeans, the Macleans of the North, the Magillivrays and the Shaws of Strathnairn. Each chief took on the burden of behalf of their whole kin group. Various other leading members of the clans also signed the Band making thirty in all. It was important enough to be witnessed by the Provost of Inverness. 

The Band served its purpose, not least by various of the Clan Chattan families securing rights over their lands. The Macphersons were again to take their own line and acted separately in Montrose’’s army, while the Macleans of Dochgarroch received tenure of their lands. The Farquharsons developed into an independent clan, but they signed the renewal of the 1609 Bond on 19 November 1664, along with most of the leaders of the Clan Chattan clans, including various Macphersons, but not their Chief. In the Civil Wars and the Jacobite Wars, the Clan Chattan were Royalist and generally Jacobite. The Farquharsons and the Macphersons, while acting independently, supported the same causes. The Clan Chattann was still very much an entity in 1727 when a Clan Association was founded, paid for by subscription, headed by Mackintosh and Macpherson younger of Cluny, to raise a fund for the employment of Lawyers, agents and procurators at Edinburgh, Inverness and Badenoch to attend to actions and causes by or against the Clan Chattan or any of its branches or members. A later Clan Chattan Association was founded in Glasgow in 1893, and in 1933 a new Clan Chattan Association was started. In 1947 the Lord Lyon ruled that the Chiefship of Clan Chattan, with the title of “Gillichattan Mor”, had separated from the Chiefship of Clan Mackintosh. The same year the Clan Macpherson Association was formed to look after the many separate interests of Clan Macpherson, but they are still an integral part of the Clan Chattan Association. 

Invercauld Highlanders

While the beginning of the Invercauld Highlanders is still unknown we know that a group of the Clan Farquharson was ready to march in front of King George IV on his famous trip to Edinburgh on August 16 1822. The group began on an as of yet unknown time between the end of the Act of Proscription on July 1, 1782 and the founding of the Braemar Wrights Friendly Society in July 1815. 

Among the many events that the Invercauld Highlanders were involved were welcoming Queen Victoria to Deeside during her inaugural trip to the place that she would fall in love with. They would also become fixtures of the Braemar Gathering in both welcoming the Royal Family and guests to Braemar Castle and Invercauld House when the games were held at those locations and acting as the rear guard during the March of the Clans.

The arrival of World War Two brought on the long hiatus of the Invercauld Highlanders. Their final march was during the 1938 Braemar Gathering. The Chief of Clan Farquharson Madame Myrtle Farquharson of Invercauld was killed in a 1941 Luftwaffe raid against London. It wouldn’t be until 1949 that her nephew Captain Alwyne A. Compton was recognized as the chief of Clan Farquharson and granted the Arms of Invercauld. An attempt by the Chief in July of 1951 to  reform the Invercauld Highlanders was unsuccessful.

So now 76 years after the last time they marched the Invercauld Highlanders were rediscovered by a small group of members of the Clan Farquharson in North America. In December 2014 Captain Farquharson of Invercauld was presented with desire to reform the group. Happily on December 26, 2014 the permission was granted that the Invercauld Highlanders of North America could form. 

We were given the following mandates:

  1. Create a Uniform Marching Unit based off of the original Invercauld Highlanders made up of people with ancestry that is connected to the Clan Farquharson
  2. Assist the Clan Farquharson societies all over the world to ensure their success
  3. Discover all the information about the original Invercauld Highlanders, including names, resting places, photographs, and videotape 
  4. Reclaim any item known to have belonged to a Invercauld Highlander uniform for the future enjoyment of the Clan Farquharson
  5. Assist with preserving Clan Farquharson sites, including the Cairn na Cuimhne, Braemar Castle, the remains of Inverey House, the remains of Monaltrie House and the Farquharson Crypt in Breda.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Contact: