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The Calder Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: BE MINDFUL

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Calder. Your family name has a possible territorial origin, derived from the Scots word for a small stream. This place name can be found throughout Scotland, such as in East and West Calder near Edinburgh, and Calderwood near Glasgow. According to Anderson, the name gained prominence in Scotland through a French knight named Hugo de Cadella. Hugo was created Thane of Calder, later known as Cawdor, in Nairnshire.

The Calders, your noble ancestors, held significant lands around Inverness from the fourteenth century onwards. They constructed the impressive Cawdor Castle, which features a substantial tower that still stands today and serves as the centerpiece. The Calders formed alliances through intermarriage with other influential local families, particularly the powerful Rose family, who were the Barons of Kilravock. However, their dominance came to an end when Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, and Hugh Rose of Kilravock were appointed guardians to the infant female heir of the Calder family. Campbell decided to raise the child in Inverary as part of his own family, and she was brought up as a Campbell. Eventually, she married Sir John Campbell, the son of the Earl of Argyll. Muriel, the last of the Calders, passed away around 1575. However, her descendant, John Campbell of Cawdor, was elevated to the peerage as Lord Cawdor in 1796, and his son became the first Earl Cawdor in 1827.

The current Earl Cawdor resides in Cawdor Castle, the ancestral seat of your Calder predecessors. Although the name Calder did not vanish, the Calders of Asswanly received lands near Elgin in 1440. This branch of the family was granted a baronetcy of Nova Scotia in 1686. Notably, Admiral Sir Robert Calder, a member of this branch, served prominently during the Napoleonic Wars. Sir James Calder provided advisory services to the Ministry of Supply during the Second World War. Another noteworthy figure is John Calder, born in 1927, a Scottish literary figure known for publishing avant-garde fiction, including works by Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, and Henry Miller. In 1963, Calder organized the International Writer’s Conference in Edinburgh, which gained fame for the clash between controversial writer Alexander Trocchi and poet Hugh MacDiarmid regarding the state of Scottish literature. John Calder passed away in 2018 at the age of ninety-one.

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Family Crest Motto: BE MINDFUL

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