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The Cameron Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: AONAIBH RI CHEILE (Let Us Unite)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Cameron. There are several theories surrounding the origin of Clan Cameron. While there is a family legend suggesting descent from a younger son of a Danish king or prince named Camchron, it is unlikely as no such king ever existed. A more plausible explanation is that the name originated from a family who took their name from a place they once owned, Cameron, in Fife, which means ‘crooked hill’ in Gaelic. Robert de Cambrun was granted the lands of Ballegarno in Fife by William the Lion. Through royal service, the family later ventured to the Highlands, and in 1296, Sir Robert de Cambron held the position of sheriff of Atholl. This knightly adventurer is likely the ancestor of the first recognized chief of the clan, Donald Dubh.

Donald and his successors were known as captains of Clan Cameron until the early sixteenth century when their lands were consolidated into the barony of Lochiel. Sir Ewan Cameron, in particular, played a significant role in supporting the Royalist cause during the War of the Three Kingdoms. In later years, he fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. While Ewan fought for the king, another Cameron named Richard Cameron hailed from a Lowland branch of the Camerons in Fife. Richard vehemently opposed the reintroduction of bishops into the Scottish church and led militant agitation against the Crown. In 1680, with about sixty armed supporters, he was captured by government troops and killed in a fierce battle. Despite this defeat, his followers, known as ‘the Cameronians,’ continued as a militant force. After 1689, the new regime incorporated them into the army, forming the regiment of the same name.

When Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland, the chief of Clan Cameron, a staunch Jacobite, felt obligated to meet him. Eventually, he was won over by the Prince’s charisma and decided to support his cause with the entire clan. He later regretted allowing his judgment to be swayed by the Prince’s charm. He died in exile in France in 1748. In 1784, Lochiel was returned to Donald, the grandson of the previous chief, upon payment of a substantial fine. However, Donald was not well-liked; he rarely visited his estates and cruelly evicted many clan members from their ancestral lands during the ‘Cameron Clearances.’ The Cameron Highlanders, a regiment in the British Army, have always maintained a close association with the clan. They were raised in 1793 by an exceptional military leader, Alan Cameron of Erracht.

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Family Crest Motto: AONAIBH RI CHEILE (Let Us Unite)

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