Hunter

 

Clan Hunter (Gaelic: “Clann an t-Sealgair”) is a Scottish clan which has its seat at Hunterston in Ayrshire. It has historical connections with both the ‘Highlands’ and ‘Lowlands’ of Scotland due to several centuries of operation in some of the formerly Gaelic speaking Scottish Islands including Arran, Bute and the Cumbraes where the Hunters also long held land. The present Chief is Madam Pauline Hunter of Hunterson

 

 

Origins of the Clan Hunter

The first Hunters arrived in Ayrshire in the last years of the 11th Century. They were experts in hunting and fieldcraft with generations of experience in the forests of their land of origin, Normandy, northern France. William Hunter was invited to Scotland by David I, who was himself brought up in the Norman Court. He must have had considerable skills to have been so honoured; he was responsible for providing the Scottish Court with meat and game, a position that the Hunters held throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. In papers relating to the King’s Inquisition in 1116, we find mention of Williemo Venator (William the Hunter, 1st Laird) who was appointed as Royal Huntsman while his wife had the honour of serving Queen Matilda as lady-in-waiting. William put his expertise to good use in the wild forests and fens, then rich with wildlife, which surrounded the site of the timber fortress later to become Hunter’s Toun. As recognition of his family’s skills the title of Royal Huntsman became a hereditary appointment.

 

 

Scottish Wars of Independence

The Pele Tower of Hunterston sheltered the Hunters throughout the Wars of Scottish Independence from which the Hunters emerged with their lands intact despite having signed the Ragman Rolls, swearing allegiance to King Edward I of England, in 1269. Having most likely supported William Wallace and certainly Robert the Bruce, in 1374 the great King’s grandson Robert II granted William Huntar (10th Laird) a charter for the lands of Ardneil “for faithful services rendered”. The Family still possess this ancient document. For many years, the Hunters continued to serve the Scottish Crown as Royal Huntsmen and as soldiers, sometimes at great cost.

 

 

Anglo-Scottish Wars

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars between England and Scotland in the 16th century John Huntar the 14th Chief died with King James IV at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, Mungo Huntar the 16th chief died for Queen Mary at the Battle of Pinkie Cleughin 1547. Clan chiefs from Clan Colquhoun, Clan Macfarlane and Clan Farquharson also died at this battle. A good clan chief was expected to lead by example, which meant being first into battle at the head of the clan. For this reason many clan chiefs died during battle. Flodden Field cost Scotland her King, 10,000 men and the flower of her nobility in her greatest military defeat. Because of the awful number of Scottish lives lost on the 9th of September 1513, this day is known in Scotland as ‘Black Saturday’.

 

 

Post Clan Activity

As times became more settled the Hunters devoted more time to farming their extensive lands, although they still produced soldiers of distinction over the generations. Gould Hunter-Weston, husband of Jane Hunter-Weston (26th Laird) fought in India at Lucknow in 1857 and their eldest son, Aylmer (27th Laird) was a well known general in the First World War. He later became Member of Parliament for North Ayrshire. During her tenure as Clan Chief, Eleanora (28th Laird) fought in the courts, but lost, a compulsory purchase order for land at Hunterston to build a nuclear power station.

The last Clan Chief, Neil Hunter of Hunterston and of that Ilk, along with his wife Sonia, Madam Hunter of Hunterston, continued the fight against industrialization. He was well known for his sailing prowess and represented the United Kingdom in two Olympic Games during which he won a silver medal. Like many Hunters before him he was in true tradition an expert in archery.

The present Clan Chief, Madam Pauline Hunter of Hunterston and of that Ilk and 30th Laird and Chief of Clan Hunter.

 

 

Clan Seat & Castle

The seat of the chief of Clan Hunter has been at Hunterston Castle for over 800 years.

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