Clan Grant is a Highland Scottish clan which inhabited land in Northern Scotland since 1316, although the clan is known to have existed farther back than that. During the various times of personal financial hardship in Scotland (particularly in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellions) many Grants moved elsewhere, mostly across the former British Empire including Canada, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. In the present, Grants live in a large number of nations in most parts of the world - an important faction of the Scottish diaspora.
Origins of the Clan
The Clan Grant connection to King Alpin of Dál Riata
Clan tradition is that the Grants are descended from King Alpin of Dál Riata. However little is recorded about the clan from before the 13th century. The earliest recorded members by contemporary evidence may include:
Thomas Grant, merchant of the King of Scotland, who retired from his post as visor of York Castle on 2nd January, 1252
Sir Laurence le Grant, Sheriff of Inverness, who “rendered accounts to the Scottish Exchequer in 1263 and 1266
Richard le Grant, Chancellor of the diocese of Lincoln, who was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in 1229
William le Graunt, said by Henry III of England to have travelled to Scotland with Alexander III of Scotland
Members of Clan Grant have owned land in Strathspey at least since 1316, most likely in Stratherrick, to the east of Loch Ness. In 1316, John Grant of Inverallan sold his land to John le Grant, who was father of Patrick le Grant, Lord of Stratherrick. The clan’s lands in Stratherrick would later become controlled by Clan Fraser.
Wars of Scottish Independence
During the Wars of Scottish Independence Clan Grant were supporters of William Wallace and fought at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296 where both Randolph and John de Grant were captured and imprisoned for a time.
The Clan Grant later supported King Robert the Bruce and it was this support that secured their landholdings in Strathspey upon Bruce’s ascent to the throne.
The taking of Castle Grant, 14th century; Originally a Comyn Clan stronghold, Clan traditions tell us that the castle was taken from the Comyns by a combined force of the Grants and MacGregors.
15th and 16th centuries
The next available reference is of Duncan le Grant in 1434, and later, Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie (Castle Grant), who inherited land in Dulnain valley in upper Speyside from his mother, Matilda of Glencarnie. Her family had partially owned it since 1180, when Richard I of England gave Kinveachy (approximately ten miles southwest of Castle Grant) to Gilbert, 3rd Earl of Strathearn.
By the late 16th century, Clan Grant became an important clan in the Scottish Highlands. During this period, the clan’s actions resulted in the murder of the Earl of Moray and the defeat of the Earl of Argyll at the Battle of Glenlivet in 1594. The Chief of Clan Grant ordered his men to retreat as soon as the action began. This treacherous move led to the defeat of Clan Campbell of Argyll.
17th Century & Civil War
During the Civil War Captain David Grant led his forces in support of the Covenanter forces against the Royalist forces at the Battle of Tippermuir in 1644.
In October 1645 the Clan Cameron raided the lands of the Clan Grant. The Grants gave chase catching the Camerons in the Braes of Strathdearn, where the Cameron men were defeated and many clansmen were slain.
By 1651 the Scottish Covenantor Government was no longer in agreement with the English Parliament of Oliver Cromwell. Sir James Grant of Grant, 16th Chief, led the clan to fight for Charles I and the Royalists at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Also, an alliance between Sir James Grant and the Earl of Huntly led to the annihilation of the Clan Farquharson.
After the Civil War the Clan Grant supported the British government. A force of over 600 Grants joined Colonel Livingstone who fought against and defeated the Jacobites at the Battle of Cromdale in 1690. These same Grants fought against the Jacobite Grants of Glenmoriston who had fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689.
18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings
Battle of Sheriffmuir 1715; Here Grants fought on both sides. The British government forces won the battle with many of the Jacobites surrendering to General Grant.
In 1725 six Black Watch regiments were formed to support the Government. One from Clan Grant, one from Clan Fraser, one from Clan Munro and three from the Clan Campbell. Taking advantage of the partisan nature and warrior instincts of the highlanders, these men were authorised to wear the kilt and to bear arms, thus it was not difficult to find recruits. The regiment was then officially known as the 42nd Regiment of Foot.
The Grants of Glenmoriston sided with the Jacobites and fought at the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 and are credited with winning the day due to their timely reinforcement. 850 of the Grants of Glenmoriston fought at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
Clan Grant was one of the few clans not to be affected by the Highland Clearances. The “Good Sir James” Grant (Clan Chief from 1773-1811) built the town of Grantown-on-Spey for the purpose of establishing a textile industry in the north, and for the expressed purpose of providing for his clansmen to keep them from emigrating. While other Highlanders were emigrating in the face of the changes that were sweeping away the old Highland way of life, Sir James Grant was busy building an entire new Highland town to provide for his Clan. Grantown-on-Spey is a monument to Sir James’s loyalty to his clansmen.
Castle Grant was the seat of the Chief of Clan Grant.
Ballindalloch Castle was owned by the Macpherson-Grants from the middle of the 16th century.
It is theorized that Aulay Grant (Olav or Alan Grant) was the earliest Chief of the Clan Grant, though Gregory Grant (1214-1249 A.D.) is the first for which there is any reference. The current Chief of Clan Grant is Sir James Patrick Trevor Grant of Grant, Bt., 33rd Hereditary Chief of the Clan Grant.
The Arms of Baron Strathspey as matriculated by the 32rd Chief in 1950.
Gules three antique crowns Or in the dexter canton Argent a saltire Azure surmounted of an inescutcheon Or charged with a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter flory being the addition of a Nova Scotia as a baronet.
Motto: Stand Fast (It is said to come from the Norse King Haakon who was ambushed by his enemies and, having no weapon to hand, tore a tree from the earth in order to defeat his attackers. “Stand Fast” then became the motto of Haakon’s family. Haakon Magnus is the “Name Father” of Clan Grant.) .
Crest: An image of a burning hill. (The burning hill represents “Craigelachie”, the rallying point for the Grants. When signal fires were lit upon the summit of Craigelachie, or “The Rock of Alarm”, members of the clan would gather there in order to organize for an attack or defense.)
Pipe Music: “Craigelachie”
Gaelic Names: Grannd (Surname), Granndach (Singular), Na Granndaich (Collective).
The official tartan for the Grant clan is the “1860 sett”, which was declared official by Lord Strathspey, chief of the clan. The 1860 sett is used to define both the Ancient and the Modern colours, the Ancient colours being lighter and less sharp (for example, the red of the modern colours is more orange for the ancient colours). Modifications of the official tartan are recognized for Grants of specific regions: the Grants of Ballindalloch and the Grants of Rothiemurchus. There is also a Hunting tartan for the Grant clan, which is common with the Black Watch’s tartan. In 1725 the government called up the Grants among three other clans to form six regiments of non-Jacobite highlanders. These regiments were given a tartan to wear. This tartan had a green and black sett was used in the military (and still is today by the Black Watch) and for hunting, as the name implies. Due to the green and black colours of the hunting tartan, one wearing a kilt with such a design would be able to blend in with his surroundings. The green and black sett was adopted by some clans as their official tartan. Others, such as the Grants, adopted it purely as a hunting tartan, opting for a brighter and more colourful official tartan.
A sept is a split in a Scottish clan. Due to either peaceful splits or conflicts of various types and degrees, a member of a clan would leave to form their own family or clan. Some septs were not related to the ruling clan but lived in the territory for mutual protection. The known and accepted septs of the Grant clan are:
Bisset or Bissett
MacGilroy or McGilroy
MacIlroy or McIlroy
MacKerran or McKerran
MacKiaran or McKiaran
MacKessock or McKessock