Clan MacGregor history - Scotland Magazine

Clan MacGregor history

The name of Clan MacGregor was famously banned, yet its most renowned clansman became something of a folk hero

Clan Gregor (to give it another name) is traditionally descended from Grigor, a son (or brother) of Kenneth MacAlpin, first King of the Scots, hence the clan motto, ‘royal is my race’. The first recognised clan chief was Gregor of the Golden Bridles in the early 14th century, followed in about 1390 by his son Ian Camm One Eye.

The MacGregor lands surrounding Loch Awe had been granted to the Campbells by Robert the Bruce in the 14th century, meaning that the MacGregors were restricted to Glenstrae, at the northeast end of the loch, from where they raided Campbell cattle. 

In 1603 to avenge the death of two of their own, between 300 and 400 members of Clan MacGregor, with the help of MacFarlanes, attacked members of Clan Colquhoun at Glen Fruin, killing 140. In direct response, King James VI issued an edict proscribing the name of MacGregor, meaning that anyone found using it would be executed. They were banned from travelling in groups of four or more and those that killed a MacGregor were rewarded for their actions.

The most famous MacGregor was Rob Roy MacGregor, born in 1671. He had Jacobite sympathies, and plundered and robbed at will. His story is romanticised in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy, which turned him into a folk hero. Rob Roy MacGregor died in 1734 and is buried in Balquhidder churchyard in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, where his grave can be visited.

There are four main MacGregor tartans, including the MacGregor Red and Black (pictured), first mentioned in about 1819. There is also a Dance tartan, which, can only be used by Highland dancers.
The clan crest is a “lion’s head erased proper, crowned with an antique crown Or”. The clan motto is “‘S Rioghal Mo Dhream” (“Royal is my race”).

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