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The Chattan Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: TOUCH NOT THE CATT BUT A GLOVE

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Chattan. According to the stories passed down through generations, your family believed to have descended from Gilchattan Mor, the esteemed servant of Saint Cattan or Cathan. Saint Cathan, the son of King Áedán Mac Gabráin of the Dál Riatan, embraced a life of monasticism and became a follower of Saint Columba. While not much is known about his influence, he was closely associated with the Isle of Bute and was the uncle of Saint Blane. Gilchattan, your ancestor, likely held the position of co-arb or baillie of the abbey lands of Ardchattan, meaning “Cathan’s Heights.” During the reign of Malcolm III, your family acquired lands at Loch Arkaig, with Torecastle becoming the chief’s seat.

The historical accounts of your family become more distinct towards the end of the thirteenth century when they established themselves around Lochaber. In 1291, Eva, the daughter of Gilpatric or Dougal Dall of Clan Chattan in Lochaber, married Angus Mackintosh, the sixth chief of Mackintosh. After their marriage, Angus resided for some time at Torecastle in Glenloy. However, due to conflicts with Angus Og of Islay, he eventually relocated to Rothiemurchus. Prior to the fourteenth century, Clan Chattan appeared to be a conventional clan with limited historical records. However, it subsequently transformed into a confederation or alliance composed of (a) clans descended from the original Chattan clan, such as Macphersons, Cattanachs, Macbeans, and Macphails; (b) Mackintoshes and their cadet branches, including Shaws, Farquharsons, Richies, McCombies, and Macthomases; and (c) families who were not initially related by blood, such as Macgillivrays, Davidsons, Macleans of Dochgarroch, Macqueens of Pollochaig, Macintyres of Badenoch, and Macandrews.

During the Jacobite risings, Clan Chattan pledged their allegiance to the Stuarts and endured hardships as a result. The Mackintosh chief was imprisoned until August 1716, and he passed away in 1731 at Moy. The Clan Chattan regiment, led by Macgillivray of Dunmaglas, fought in the Jacobite victory at Falkirk in 1746. The aftermath of the Jacobite cause and the subsequent suppression of the Highlands affected the nature of the confederation, and its members began seeking independent paths. The prominent families within the confederation continued to dispute power, albeit mostly through heated debates before the Court of the Lord Lyon. The Mackintosh chiefs maintained their role as captains of Clan Chattan until 1947 when Duncan Alexander Mackintosh of Torcastle was officially recognized by the Lord Lyon as the chief of Clan Chattan in his own right.

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Family Crest Motto: TOUCH NOT THE CATT BUT A GLOVE

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