Gregor or MacGregor


Clan Gregor, or Clan MacGregor, is a Highland Scottish clan. Outlawed for nearly two hundred years after losing their lands in a long power struggle with the Clan Campbell, the Clan Gregor claims descent from Constantin and wife and cousin Malvina, first son of Doungallas and wife Spontana (daughter of a High King of Ireland) and grandson of Giric, the third son of Alpín mac Echdach, the father of Kenneth MacAlpin, the first King of Scotland, a descent which is proclaimed in the motto, ‘S Rioghal Mo Dhream, translated as Royal is my Race.



Origins of the clan



A Victorian era, romanticised depiction of a member of the clan by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845.

The Clan Gregor is believed to have originated in Scotland during the 800s. The MacGregor’s suggest that they take their name from Gregor (derived from the Latin ‘Gregorious’ and the Late-Greek ‘Gregorios’ which means “Alert, Watchful, or Vigilant”. Gregor is said to be a son of the Scottish king Alpin II Mac Eochaidh and younger brother of Kenneth MacAlpin, the now famous Scottish king who first united Scotland in A.D. 843.Alpin II was the son of Eochaidh VI ‘the Poisonous’, High King of Scots, by his marriage to his cousin, the Pictish Princess Royal, and thus had claims to the Scottish and Pictish Thrones.

Alpin was defeated and allegedly beheaded in his attempt to gain the Pictish Throne. His son, Kenneth, was successful, taking advantage of Viking harassment of the Picts from the east. While there is no surviving concrete record of a younger ‘Prince Gregor’, the Gregg Family website claims that an ancient Latin record of the Alpinian family mentions a Gregor who was a commander in the army of Kenneth Mac Alpin. Kenneth had a least one other known brother, Donald, who succeeded him as king of Scots. Unfortunately, most of the early public records of Scotland were destroyed by order of the English King Edward Plantagenet, during his occupation of Scotland at the end of the 13th century.

It was not unusual for the Mac Alpin kings to give Latin or Scandinavian names to their sons. Typical examples are Constantine-named after the famous Roman Emperor, and Indulf-named after a Viking leader. Gregor would probably have been named after the famous Pope Gregory ‘the Great’(Gregorius).

The Y-chromosomal data supports the Alpinian royal claim as the hierarchical family Y-DNA is consistent with that of the other clans claiming similar descent. The data supports descent from the Dalraidic kings. Many historians have suggested the clan descends from Griogair, son of Dungal, who is said to have been a co-ruler of Alba, an area of north central Scotland, between AD 879 and 889. The Y-DNA data does not support this second contention.  



Wars of Scottish Independence

By tradition in the 14th century during the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Gregor fought at the Battle of Bannockburn under chief Malcolm MacGregor. However most historians agree that the first certain Chief was Gregor “of the Golden Bridles.” Gregor’s son, Iain Camm (”of the One-Eye”) succeeded as the second Chief sometime prior to 1390.

The MacGregors suffered a reversal of fortune when the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, granted the barony of Loch Awe, which included much of the MacGregor lands, to the chief of Clan Campbell. The Campbells ejected the unfortunate MacGregors from these lands, forcing them to retire deeper into their lands until they were largely restricted to Glenstrae. The MacGregors fought the Campbells for decades and were eventually dispossessed of all their lands. Reduced to the status of outlaws, they rustled cattle and poached deer to survive. They became so proficient at these endeavours many other clans would pay them not to steal their cattle as they exhausted other means of stopping them.

The taking of Castle Grant in the 14th century; Originally a Clan Comyn stronghold, Clan Grant traditions tell us that the castle was taken from the Comyns by a combined force of the Grants and MacGregors. The Clan Grant and Clan Gregor stormed the castle and in the process slew the Comyn Chief - and kept the Chief’s skull as a trophy of this victory. The skull of the Comyn was taken as a macabre trophy and was kept in Castle Grant and became an heirloom of the Clan Grant. (In the late Lord Strathspey’s book on the Clan, he mentions that the top of the cranium was hinged, and that he saw documents kept in it.) Clan tradition predicts grave things if the skull ever leaves the hands of the family - prophesying that the Clan would lose all of its lands in Strathspey.



16th century & clan conflicts

Iain of Glenstrae died in 1519 with no direct heirs. This plunged the Clan Gregor into disarray as the powerful Campbells meddled with succession and asserted claim to the last remaining MacGregor lands. In 1560, the Campbells dispossessed Gregor Roy MacGregor, who waged war against the Campbells for ten years before being captured and killed. His son, Alistair, claimed the MacGregor chiefship but was utterly unable to stem the tide of persecution which was to be fate of the “Children of the Mist.”

Argyle and his Clan Campbell henchmen were given the task of hunting down the MacGregors. About sixty of the clan made a brave stand at Bentoik against a party of two-hundred chosen men belonging to the Clan Cameron, Clan MacNab, and Clan Ronald, under command of Robert Campbell, son of the Laird of Glen Orchy. In this battle, Duncan Aberach, one of the Chieftains of the Clan Gregor, his son Duncan, and seven other MacGregors were killed. But although they made a brave resistance, and killed many of their pursuers, the MacGregors, after many skirmishes and great losses, were at last overcome.

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the Clan Gregor fought against the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh 1547.

In 1558 a deadly feud took place between the Clan MacLaren and the Clan Gregor when the MacGregors were accused of killing 18 MacLarens men along with their whole families and taking possession of their farms. This incident was not investigated until 1604 when the MacGregors were on trial for slaughtering many men of the Clan Colquhoun. However the MacGregors were cleared of doing anything against the Clan MacLaren.

In 1589 John Drummond of the Clan Drummond was appointed Royal Forester of Glenartney. It was in this post that he had the ears of some of the Clan Gregor (one account says MacDonalds) poachers cropped. Clan Gregor swore revenge and attacked Drummond and chopped off his head. They then proceeded to John’s sisters residence, burst in, and demanded bread and cheese. The MacGregors then unwrapped John’s head and crammed its mouth full. The feud between the two clans lasted for over a century



17th century & clan conflicts



The grave of Rob Roy MacGregor, his widow and sons.

The Battle of Glen Fruin took place in 1603 where the MacGregors were victorious, defeating five hundred Clan Colquhoun men, three hundred of whom were on horseback, by four hundred MacGregor men at Glen Fruin. Over two hundred of the Colquhoun men were lost when the MacGregors, who had split into two parties, attacked from front and rear and forced the horsemen onto the soft ground of the Moss of Auchingaich. It meant the proscription of the Clan Gregor. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that the enmity between the clans was laid to rest when, at Glen Fruin on the site of the massacre, the chiefs of the Clan Gregor and Colquhoun met and shook hands.

The MacGregors were formally banished in 1603 by King James VI who made it a capital offence to bear the MacGregor name. From this period comes the Clan Gregor’s most famous historical figure, Rob Roy.

The dispossessed MacGregors rustled cattle and poached deer to survive. When John Drummond, the king’s forester, was murdered after hanging some MacGregors for poaching, the chief of the Clan Gregor, Alistair of Glen Strae was condemned by the Privy Council. In April 1603, King James VI issued an edict proclaiming the name of MacGregor ‘altogidder abolisheed’, meaning that those who bore the name must renounce it or suffer death.

Alistair MacGregor of Glen Strae was then captured, having sought protection from the Chief of the Campbells to go to London to beg clemence from James the VI, who had recently claimed the English throne. The Campbells gave him safe passage to the borders, but arranged in advance for soldiers to capture him on the English side, and return him to Edinburgh to stand trial. He, along with eleven of his chieftains, was hanged at Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross, or, alternatively in the Edinburgh Tollbooth, the site of which is now marked by the Heart of Midlothian. He was hung one ell higher than his relatives, to distinguish his rank.  in January 1604. Clan Gregor was scattered, many taking other names, such as Murray, King, or Grant. They were hunted like animals, flushed out of the heather by bloodhounds. Persecution of the MacGregors continued until 1774 when they were permitted to be reestablished.

The Clan MacThomas spent much of their time breeding cattle and fighting off those who tried to rustle them. One of these incidents in 1606 is remembered as the Battle of Cairnwell. A force of around 200 men from the Clan Gregor and some Catarans made off with around 2,700 of the MacThomases cattle. The MacThomases eventually caught up with their enemies and defeated them but not before they had butchered most of the MacThomases cattle out of pure spite. This caused much financial damage to the MacThomases with some of the clansmen being completely ruined.

The Earl of Glencairn was in Rannoch in 1653 looking for support for Charles II. He raised the Clan Gregor from the Isle of Rannoch. He would have no difficulty recruiting them because one of their opponents was the Earl of Argyll, a Campbell, one of their hereditary enemies. Alexander, the 12th chief of the Clan Robertson led his men from Fea Corrie. Both forces met above Annat and marched up the old path to Loch Garry. History informs us that the leaders quarrelled so much amongst themselves that the Cromwell General, General Monk had little difficulty in winning the ensuing Battle of Dalnaspidal.



18th century & Jacobite uprisings

In the 18th Century during the early Jacobite Uprisings men from the Clan Gregor fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 led by their chief Rob Roy who was wounded.

During the 1745 to 1746 uprising the Clan Gregor who were under the Duke of Perth fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Prestonpans in 1715 and the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Persecution of the MacGregors did not end until 1774.



Clan profile



Clan crest, badge, motto, slogan and pipe tune



MacGregor tartan, as published in the Vestiarium Scoticum, in 1842.

      Clan Crest: A lion’s head erased proper crowned with a five-pointed antique crown.

      Clan Badge: Scots Pine.

      Clan Motto: ‘S Rioghal Mo Dhream (translation from Gaelic: Royal is My Race).

      Clan Slogan: Ard Choille! (translation from Gaelic: The woody height!).

      Pipe tune: Ruaig Ghlinne Freoine (translation from Gaelic: The Chase (or Rout) of Glen Fruin).




The MacGregor tartan was first published in the Vestiarium Scoticum in 1842. When the name MacGregor was again made legitimate in 1775, John Murray was recognized as chief of the clan, and in 1795 he became known as Sir John Murray MacGregor. It is believed that the chief adopted the tartan at the time of the visit of George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, by then the tartan had been in production by Wilsons of Bannockburn, with the name of MacGregor-Murray.



Clan chief

      Sir Malcolm Gregor Charles Mac Gregor of Mac Gregor, 7th BT, of Lanrick and Balquhidder, 24th Chief of Clan Gregor. His Gaelic designation is An t-Ailpeineach, a name which bears testimony to the Clan’s traditional descent from Siol Alpin. Full chief list.




      Meggernie Castle



Septs of Clan Gregor

The accepted Septs of Clan Gregor include the following names:


      Dochart / Doughart


      Greer / Grier



































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