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The Clelland Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: FOR SPORT

Let me tell you the historical background of your family name, Clelland. It is said to originate from the lands of Kneland or Cleland in Daziel, Lanarkshire. Your family history, as recorded by John Burton Clelland, mentions several branches of your family. In addition to Clelland of that Ilk, there were Clelands of Connoblehill, Auchinlee, Monkland and Gartness, Stonypath and Barbados, Blairlin, Glenhoope, Faskine, Rathgael, and Stormont Castle. The Clellands of that Ilk held the hereditary position of foresters to the Earls of Douglas, which may explain the depiction of a black hare with a hunting horn around its neck on their coat of arms. According to Black, Alexander Kneland of that Ilk was married to Margeret, the sister of William Wallace. Kneland fought at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and was rewarded with extensive lands, including the barony of Calder in West Lothian.

Tragically, both Alexander Clelland of that Ilk and his cousin William lost their lives in the Battle of Flodden in 1513. A later Alexander Clelland had a connection to the Earl of Bothwell, who was the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was implicated in the murder of Lord Darnley along with others. In 1632, Alexander Cleland of Cleland contributed 20 merks towards the construction of a library at the University of Glasgow. In 1598, a relative named Claud Clelland is listed as a student at the university. In 1634, James Cleland assumed the title ‘of that Ilk’ after the passing of his brother Alexander, during the childhood of Alexander’s son. Later, James Cleland formally purchased the title and lands, possibly by force. In 1651, James Cleland of that Ilk assisted with the marriage negotiations of the younger son of Cambusnethan. In 1696, James Cleland, son of James Cleland of Edinburgh, invested ¬£200 in the ill-fated Darien scheme, as did John Cleland, an Edinburgh merchant. Then, in 1702, Alexander Cleland of that Ilk sold the family estates to settle debts.

One notable figure in your family’s history is the novelist John Cleland, who is widely believed to have been the son of Major William Cleland of Cleland. He is best known as the author of the provocative novel, Fanny Hill, which is now considered a classic of eighteenth-century literature. The family history suggests that William Cleland of Cleland had already exhausted any remaining family fortune. John Cleland was part of the literary scene in London during the Enlightenment and associated with individuals such as Boswell and David Garrick. He passed away at the age of eighty in 1789.

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