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The MacLean Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: VIRTUE MINE HONOUR

Let me share the fascinating history of your family name, MacLean. You see, in Gaelic, MacLean is interpreted as “son of the servant of St John.” It’s quite intriguing, isn’t it? Another possible origin of your name is the word “leathan,” which means “broad” or “broad-shouldered.” Now, let me take you back in time to when your ancestors played significant roles in Scottish history. Throughout the history of the MacLean lineage, a long line of warriors have emerged, each leaving their mark on the annals of valor and bravery. From generation to generation, these fearless individuals have upheld the proud tradition of the clan and distinguished themselves in the field of battle.

Your lineage can be traced back to Gilleathan Na Tuaidh, a courageous warrior known as ‘Gillean of the Battleaxe.’ Picture this: it was the year 1263, and the Battle of Largs unfolded. Gillean fearlessly fought alongside his comrades, resulting in the defeat of Haakon IV’s army. Such heroism runs through your blood.

Fast forward to the generations that followed. One of Gillean’s great-great-grandsons, Iain Dhu Maclean, made his home in Mull, Scotland. Among his sons, Lachlan Lubanach became the progenitor of the Macleans of Duart, while Eachainn Reaganach (Hector) established the Maclaines of Lochbuie. By the late 15th century, your ancestors owned vast territories encompassing Mull, Tiree, Islay, Jura, Knapdale, Morvern in Argyllshire, and Lochaber.

Now, let me regale you with tales of some remarkable individuals from your family line. 

Lachlan Lubanach’s son, known as ‘Red Hector of the Battles,’ was a renowned warrior. From a young age, he displayed remarkable courage and daring feats, earning a reputation as one of the finest swordsmen of his era. His swordsmanship skills became so renowned that knights from distant lands traveled to challenge him in combat. Among them was a renowned knight from Norway who issued a mortal combat challenge to Hector Roy. Fearlessly, Hector accepted the challenge, and they clashed at Salen in Mull. It was there that the Norwegian knight met his demise, and a green mound and cairn by the sea now serve as a solemn memorial to the fallen warrior buried by Hector’s hand.

According to an ancient Gaelic poem, Hector Roy led a formidable fleet to the shores of Ireland, where he engaged and defeated some of the ships belonging to the King of England. His troops disembarked, exacted tribute from the city of Dublin, and unleashed devastation upon the land, ravaging the countryside and burning the homes of his enemies. This particular expedition is likely referenced in Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicle of Ireland, which recounts a historical event during the reign of King Henry IV. In the year 1400, during Whit Sunday, the constable of Dublin and several others engaged in a naval battle with the Scots near Stanford in Ulster, resulting in the loss of many English lives through combat and drowning.

MacLean Family History Red Hector

In the pages of history, you’ll find the name Lachlan of Duart. He valiantly fought alongside the king at Flodden in 1513 but tragically lost his life. During this time, the Campbells and the Macleans were engaged in a fierce struggle for control over Mull. However, despite their rivalry, they shared a common faith in Protestantism and a mutual dislike for the Macdonalds.

Sir Lachlan Mor Maclean, a distinguished figure, relentlessly pursued the Macdonalds of Islay. His merciless actions led to such devastation that in 1594, both he and the Macdonald chief were declared outlaws by the Privy Council.

The valor and dedication of your ancestors continued to shine through the ages. Sir Lachlan Maclean, who became a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1631, held a deep loyalty towards Charles I. When called upon by Montrose, he rallied the clan to join their cause. Sadly, he passed away in 1649, and his son, Sir Hector, valiantly carried the torch but lost his life at the Battle of Inverkeithing in 1651.

Financial hardships befell your family, resulting in significant debt and the loss of Duart and most of the Maclean estates to the Campbells by 1679. However, when the Stuarts once again sought assistance, the Maclean chief promptly answered the call. Sir John, the 5th Baronet, fought for James VII at Killiecrankie in 1689, demonstrating unwavering loyalty.

In the tumultuous period of the rising of 1715, Sir Hector Maclean, alongside the clan, stood in support. Although he faced adversity, he returned to Edinburgh in 1745 to pave the way for that year’s uprising. Unfortunately, he was

arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1747. Despite the hardships endured, the spirit of our family remained unbroken.

The saga of the Maclean clan continued during the Forty-Five Rebellion, led by Maclean of Drimmin. With unyielding determination, they fought alongside Bonnie Prince Charlie, embodying the unwavering loyalty that has defined our family for generations. It was at the infamous Battle of Culloden where Maclean of Drimmin, amidst the Highland charge, made the ultimate sacrifice, laying down his life for the cause.

Over time, Duart Castle, once a symbol of MacLean ancestral power, fell into ruin. But in 1911, a momentous occasion unfolded when the chiefs of your family reclaimed and restored it to its former glory. It now stands as a testament to the resilience and pride of the Macleans, serving as your cherished ancestral seat.

As we reflect upon the MacLean family’s illustrious history, let us remember the virtues that have shaped your lineage. The valor, courage, and unwavering loyalty displayed by your ancestors are not merely tales of the past; they are the legacy we carry within us today.

May we continue to honor the Maclean name, cherishing your heritage, and forging a path of your own, guided by the indomitable spirit of those who came before us. Together, we will add new chapters to the remarkable story of your family, leaving a lasting imprint for future generations to admire and draw strength from.

Let the legacy of the Macleans inspire us as we embrace the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead, united by the bonds of blood and history.

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