Origin of the name

Although Sir Iain Moncreiffe, perhaps the greatest herald genealogist, believed his family were of Celtic origin and descended from a younger son of the Lamonts, the generally accepted view is that they descended from a French family called de Leon, who came north with Edgar, son of Malcolm III, at the end of the eleventh century to fight against his uncle, Donald Bane, the usurper of the throne. Edgar was triumphant, and de Leon received lands in Perthshire which were later called Glen Lyon. Roger de Leonne witnessed a charter of Edgar to the Abbey at Dunfermline in 1105.



14th Century

In 1372 Robert II granted to Sir John Lyon (called the White Lyon because of his fair complexion) the thanage of Glamis. Five years later, he became Chamberlain of Scotland, and his prominence was such he was considered fit to marry the kingıs daughter, Princess Joanna, who brought with her not only illustrious lineage, but also the lands of Tannadice on the River Esk. He was later also granted the barony of Kinghorne. He was killed during a quarrel with Sir James Lindsay of Crawford near Menmuir in Angus.



15th Century

The family have descended in a direct line from the White Lion and Princess Joanna to the present day, and their crest alludes to this. His only son, another John, was his successor, and he strengthened the royal ties by marrying a granddaughter of Robert II. Sir Johnıs son, Patrick, was created Lord Glamis in 1445 and thereafter became a Privy Councillor and Master of the Royal Household.



16th Century

John, sixth Lord Glamis, was, according to a tradition, a quarrelsome man with a quick temper. He married Janet Douglas, granddaughter of the famous Earl Angus (also called Bell the Cat), and after his death she suffered terribly for the hatred which James V bore all of her name. Lady Glamis was accused on trumped-up charges of witchcraft and, despite speaking boldly in her own defence, her doom was preordained. She was burned at the stake on the castle hill at Edinburgh on 3 December 1540.

The eighth Lord Glamis renounced his allegiance to Mary Queen of Scots and served under the Regents Moray and Lennox. He was made Chancellor of Scotland and Keeper of the Great Seal for life, and his son, the ninth Lord, was captain of the Royal Guard and one of James VIs Privy Councillors.



17th Century & Civil War

In 1606 he was created Earl of Kinghorne, Viscount Lyon and Baron Glamis. His son, the second Earl, was a close personal friend of James Graham the Marquess of Montrose and was with him when he subscribed to the National Covenant in 1638. He accompanied Montrose on his early campaigns in defence of the Covenant , but despite his great affection for the Marquess, he could not support him when he broke with the Scots Parliament to fight for Charles I. Lyon almost ruined his estates in supporting the Army of the Covenant against his friend.

In 1677, the third Earl of Kinghorne obtained a new patent of nobility, being styled thereafter Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, Viscount Lyon, Baron Glamis, Tannadyce, Sidlaw and Strathdichtie. He paid off the debts he inherited from his father by skillful management of the estates and was later able to alter and enlarge Castle Glamis. John, his son, although a member of the Privy Council, opposed the Treaty of Union of 1707.



18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings

His son was a Jacobite who fought in the rising of 1715 at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in Tullibardineıs regiment. He died defending his regimentıs colours. In 1716 James, the Old Pretender. son of James VII, was entertained at Glamis. Thirty years later another kingıs son, but a much less welcome one, the Duke of Cumberland, stopped at the castle on his march north to Culloden. It is said that after he left the bed which he had used was dismantled.

Among the Jacobite relics now preserved at Glamis are a sword and watch belonging to James VIII, the Old Pretender, and an intriguing tartan coat worn by him. The youngest daughter of the fourteenth Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne is the Queen Mother

Likely came from the LYON charge from the coat-of-arms of Sir John de Lyon (Argent, Lion Rampant Azure, Riband Gules).



Clan Chief

The current Chief of Clan Lyon is Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, 18th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.



Clan Castle

The seat of the Chief of Clan Lyon is at Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland.



Clan Crest

Within a garland of bay leaves, a lady from the middle richly attired, holding in her dexter hand a thistle all Proper (in allusion to the alliance of Sir John Lyon with Princess Jean, daughter of King Robert II).



Clan Tartans



Clan Arms

Quarterly, 1st & 4th, argent, a lion rampant azure, armed and langued gules, within a double tressure flory counterflory of the Second (Lyon); 2nd & 3rd, ermine, three bows stringed paleways Proper (Bowes); en surtout an inescutcheon azure, thereon a rose argent, barbed vert and seeded or, ensigned with the Imperial Crown Proper, within a double tressure flory counterflory of the Second, the said inescutcheon ensigned with an Earl’s coronet Proper (the said honourable augmentation being limited to the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and to the heirs succeeding him in his said Earldom).

(For an explanation of the terms, see heraldry.)



Gaelic Name

      Liobhunn (surname)



Septs of Clan Lyon



      Lehane or Lehan

Category posts

Search the Information Centre.

Need help? See our Search Tips