Origins of Clan Donnachaidh

Abbot Crinan of Dunkeld, descended from the kindred of St. Columba, was father of Duncan, King of Scots. He was killed by MacBeth but his descendants held the throne for two and a half centuries. The king had a younger son Maelmare who became Earl of Atholl and was the ancestor of the Chiefs of Clan Donnachaidh.

The chiefs are numbered from Duncan the Stout (stout in battle rather than in belly) who lived in the 1300s. He held lands in Rannoch and around Glen Errochty and took his followers to fight at Bannockburn in 1314 in support of his friend, King Robert The Bruce. His son Robert (perhaps called after Bruce) inherited land from his own mother and his estate ran from the edge of the Grampians to the gates of Perth

Origin of the Name Robertson

In 1437 the chief Robert Riach (grizzled) captured Sir Robert Graham who, with others, had just murdered the King James I at Perth. In reward James II gave Robert a charter in which all of his lands were made into a feudal barony giving him administrative control over them.

The barony was called Struan and the chief was henceforth known as Robertson (from this Robert) of Struan

In Support of the Stuart Kings

Successive chiefs led the clan through the intermittent turmoil of 15th and 16th century Atholl.

In the 17th century the Highlands were drawn into national history in support of the Stuart Kings. In 1644 the Clan fought with Montrose and never lost a battle. The clan regiment was in evidence again in 1653, 1689, 1715, and 1745. The last three dates mark the Jacobite risings, in all of which Alexander Robertson of Struan, the Poet Chief, took part.

The Breakdown of the Clan System

After the Battle of Culloden, estates owned by Jacobites were forfeited and run by the government until 1784 when they were returned — along with the old debts.But the clan system had been destroyed and chiefs found it increasingly difficult to make a living. Our chiefs did not evict clansmen and no clearances took place on their estate, but in 1853 our chief sold Struan and Dunalastair, leaving only Rannoch. He moved to a new house at Dall but sold that in 1861. In 1926 the last land in Rannoch was sold. By then the chiefship had passed to a branch of the family who, about 1800, had emigrated to make a living in Jamaica.

Now the chief is back, and the clan once more owns land in Atholl.

To learn more of our shared history please go the Clan Donnachaidh Society main page: