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The Carmichael Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: TOUT JOUR PREST (Always ready)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Carmichael, as it has been passed down through the generations. Your family has been settled on the lands of the upper ward of Lanarkshire for nearly eight hundred years. The name Carmichael is derived from the place name, which combines the Brythonic (Old Welsh) word “Caer,” meaning fort, and the personal name Michael, resulting in “Michael’s Fort.” Although we are uncertain about the identity of Michael and his relationship to our family, the name has endured.

The earliest recorded mention of the Carmichael name dates back to a William de Carmichael, who is mentioned in records from the period between 1220 and 1240. Our family’s history becomes clearer with the arrival of Sir John de Carmichael, who received a charter of the lands of Carmichael from William, Earl of Douglas, around 1374. The Carmichael crest, depicting a broken spear, serves as a reminder of Sir John’s heroic deeds. He played a crucial role in a Scottish army sent to assist the French against an English invasion. In a remarkable feat of combat, he defeated the Duke of Clarence, the king’s brother, in single combat, unhorsing him and shattering his own spear in the process.

Sir John de Carmichael, known as “the most expert borderer,” was a favorite of Anne of Denmark, Queen of James IV. Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he was ambushed and shot in 1599 while arresting some Armstrongs during a disturbance. Sir James, the first Lord of Carmichael, was elevated to the peerage in 1647. He was a loyal supporter of Charles I, but his son, although knighted by the King, sided with Parliament during the turbulent times. It is likely that they found themselves on opposing sides in various conflicts. In 1701, the second Lord was granted the title of Earl of Hyndford and Lord Carmichael of Carmichael. When the sixth Earl passed away without an heir in 1817, the Carmichael estates were inherited by Sir John Anstruther of Anstruther. For the following 163 years, the Carmichael-Anstruthers held the ownership of Carmichael. However, the current chief of the clan has resumed the name Carmichael and has actively supported the Clan Carmichael society, which now has branches across the globe.

Throughout history, your family has produced many notable individuals. Gershom Carmichael, who passed away in 1729, was an esteemed academic and is often regarded as the founder of modern Scottish philosophy. Amy Wilson Carmichael, born in 1867, belonged to a branch of the family that settled in Ireland. She embarked on extensive travels and devoted many years of her life to missionary work in India. Another distinguished figure, Alexander Carmichael, was an academic, historian, and folklorist. He dedicated himself to collecting folklore, local traditions, natural history, and various objects from people throughout the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Your family’s heritage is filled with remarkable stories and contributions, shaping the identity of the Carmichael name for generations to come.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: TOUT JOUR PREST (Always ready)

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