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MacBrayne Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: FORTIS CEU LEO FIDUS (Brave as a faithful lion)

Let me share with you the intriguing history of your family, the MacBryanes. Your family name, Macbrayne, carries a distinct Highland heritage, originating from the Gaelic “Mac a’ Bhriuthainn,” meaning ‘son of the judge.’ The title ‘brieve’ or ‘brehon’ referred to a judge who possessed a deep understanding of the legal traditions of the Gaelic people in both Scotland and Ireland. This esteemed role demanded an impeccable memory of the laws and customs of specific lordships, often being passed down through generations due to the oral nature of Gaelic society.

In those times, your family’s ancestors likely served the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the Western Isles, even forming their own clan under this extensive lordship. The name MacBrayne first appears in written records during the early sixteenth century, but its roots undoubtedly trace back much further. Eugenius Macbrahin, a student at the University of St. Andrews in 1525, marks one of the earliest mentions of your family’s name.

An important chapter in your family’s history is linked to Archibald Mcbrain, who inherited the estates of Macnaughtan of that Ilk, a family relation. Archibald, the grandson of Alexander Macnaughton, carried the legacy of John Macnaughton, the inspector-general of customs in Scotland. His son, Donald Macbrayne, a successful merchant in Glasgow, chose to represent himself by combining the arms of Macbrayne with Macnaghtan. This combination was officially recorded in 1773. The chief’s arms, matriculated in 1770, featured two lions on a red background. These lions, with golden fronts and silver backs, became the symbol of your family’s proud heritage.

Your family continued to flourish, acquiring the lands of Glenbranter on the shores of Loch Eck on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll. The legacy of Major John Macbrayne, who served as a cavalry officer during the First World War, further adds to your family’s valor and history.

One of the most prominent aspects of your family’s legacy is its association with the shipping company, Caledonian MacBrayne, affectionately known as ‘Calmac.’ The company, which still bears your family’s name to this day, was founded in 1851 as David Hutcheson & Co. After the retirement of its founder in 1878, the MacBrayne family took over. They retained ownership until 1928, and the company remains a crucial link, connecting many of Scotland’s islands to the wider world. Your family’s enduring impact on this essential service is a testament to the resilience and commitment that has defined the MacBryanes throughout history.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: FORTIS CEU LEO FIDUS (Brave as a faithful lion)

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