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The Darroch Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: BE WATCHFUL

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Darroch. Your family name is said to have derived from the Gaelic ‘Macdara’, which means ‘son of oak’. It is believed that the Darrochs who settled around Stirling acquired their name from the lands of Darroch near Falkirk, where there may have been an oak grove in the past. Your family’s coat of arms proudly features three oak trees as a tribute to this legend.

The earliest mentions of your family name can be traced back to individuals such as John Darach de Cruce in 1445, who may be the same person as John Darraugh, Commissioner to Parliament for the burgh of Stirling in 1450. In 1462, Mariote Darrauch served as the nurse of Lady Margaret, the second daughter of James II. James Darroch, also known as Jacobus, was a notary public and appeared as a witness to a charter related to the lands of the Stirlings of Keir around 1477.

However, the Darroch family was most numerous on the islands of Islay and Jura, where they were part of the mighty Clan Donald. The Clann Domhnuill Riabhaich, which included your family, adopted their name from a Gaelic term meaning ‘brindled color’. This distinguished them from the fair-haired inhabitants of Jura, known as ‘dath buidhe’, from which the modern name ‘Bowie’ originated. In 1623, the Mic ‘ille Riabhaich appeared on a bond acknowledging Sir Donald Macdonald, first Baronet of Sleat, as their overlord and protector, while he promised to provide them with due protection in return. The patronymic of the chief became settled as ‘McIlliriech’.

From McIlliriech of Jura, a family line emerged that eventually became the Barons of Gourock, a port on the Clyde. Duncan Darroch, born on Jura before the mid-eighteenth century, sought his fortune abroad and settled in Jamaica. He amassed a significant estate and decided to return to his native land. In 1784, he acquired the lands and barony of Gourock from the Stewarts of Castlemilk. Duncan registered his arms and was designated in the Lyon Register as the ‘Chief of that ancient name, the patronymic of which is McIliriech’. It became a tradition for the heir to the chiefship to be named Duncan, a tradition that continues to this day. Duncan Darroch, the seventh Baron of Gourock and father of the present chief, served as a distinguished soldier in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during both World Wars. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel and was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the monarch’s bodyguard in Scotland. Additionally, he held the position of Commandant of the Cadet Corps for Stirlingshire.

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