Origins of the Clan
The Clan Dunbar descends from Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria, grandson of Crínán of Dunkeld and Seneschal of the Isles and nephew to King Duncan I of Scotland who became Earl of Northumberland after his father. In 1072 this title was deprived from him by William the Conqueror and he fled back to Scotland. He was granted lands in Dunbar by King Malcolm III of Scotland thus becoming the Earl of Dunbar.
Wars of Scottish Independence
Patrick, the 8th Earl of Dunbar was also called the Earl of March. Patrick was one of the competitors for the crown of Scotland. However he withdrew his claim and swore allegiance to King Edward I of England. Patrick’s son also swore fealty to King Edward II of England. However he later signed the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 for Scottish Independence.
During the Wars of Scottish Independence Patrick’s son married the daughter of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, the famous Black Agnes. It was she, ‘Isobell’ who successfully defended Dunbar Castle against the English in 1338. However the Dunbars were not supporters of Robert the Bruce. The Dunbars also fought against the English at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 with the Earl of Douglas.
15th Century & Earldoms
The Earldom of Moray passed to Isobell’s children who were Dunbars. The Earldom of Dunbar went to George Dunbar and the Earldom of Moray to his brother John Dunbar. The earldom of Dunbar was forfeited in 1435 by King James I of Scotland who saw the Earldom as powerful threat and so the title came to an end.
John the Earl of Moray married Marjorie, the daughter of King Robert II of Scotland and they had two sons. Their sons were Thomas and James. Thomas married the heiress of Frendraught. James became the 4th Earl of Moray and was the last in that male line. James was murdered in 1429 and the Earldom of Moray passed down through the daughters line. Sir Alexander of Westfield, John’s son from his second marriage, became the 1st Baron of Mochrum in 1694, ancestor to the hereditary Sheriffs of Moray.
16th Century & Clan Conflicts
The Dunbars prospered in Moray despite a feud with the Clan Innes. Many cadet branches of the Dunbars were founded.
The Baronets of Durn, of Northfield and of Hempriggs in Caithness. Gavin Dunbar of the Mochrum family was appointed Archbishop of Glasgow and Lord Chancellor of Scotland in the reign of James V, while his exact namesake of the Westfield family was Bishop of Aberdeen and uncle to another Gavin Dunbar, tutor of the young King James V of Scotland.
In 1598 the Clan Dunbar lands were raided by the Clan Cameron. The men listed as being involved in this raid include a good number of Camerons and those from the various tribes of Clan Cameron. Among the so-named “perpetrators” was Allan Cameron, XVI Captain and Chief of Clan Cameron and twenty six other Camerons of noteworthy families. They burnt a handful of homes and took away three score and ten horses, among numerous other personal possessions.
Clan Dunbar today
Sir Jean Ivor Dunbar was the 13th Baronet of Mochrum and the Chief of the Name and Arms of Dunbar. After his death in 1993 the title passed to his son, Sir James Michael Dunbar, 14th Baronet of Mochrum and 39th Hereditary Chief of the Name and Arms of Dunbar. He is a retired Colonel of the United States Air Force.