Clan Mar is a Scottish clan from the Grampian Highlands, sometimes referred to as the Tribe of Mar. The chiefs of the clan held the position of Mormaer of Mar from the 1130s to the early 15th century as the original Earls of Mar. The position was later taken over by chiefs of the Clan Erskine in the 15th century who held the title as Earl of Mar and became chiefs of Clan Mar.
Origins of the Clan
One of the seven ancient kingdoms (or tribes) of Scotland, the rulers of this kingdom were known as ‘Mormaer’ which was an ancient Pictish equivalent of an Earl. The Earldom of Mar lies in Aberdeenshire between the rivers Dee and Don. It is because Mar was one of the ancient tribes of Scotland, that it is referred to a the “Tribe of Mar.”
Donald Mormaer of Mar fought alongside the Irish King Brian Boru against the Norse, Viking invaders in 1014. Rothri (Ruadrí), a later Mormaer is named in the charter erecting the Abbey of Scone in 1114. Uilleam, Earl of Mar or William the 5th Earl of Mar as chief of the Clan Mar he was also a regent of Scotland and Great Chamberlain of the Realm in 1264. He was a witness to the marriage of Princess Margaret and King Eric II of Norway, 1280-99, whose daughter ‘The Maid of Norway’ died in 1290 on her voyage to claim the throne of Scotland, throwing the country into a great period of unrest.
14th Century & Wars of Scottish Independence
In the 14th century during the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Mar led by chief Domhnall I, Earl of Mar supported King Robert the Bruce of Scotland in fighting the English. He died in 1302. His son, Gartnait, Earl of Mar took over as chief but died just three years later in 1305. Gartnait’s son, Domhnall II, Earl of Mar took over as chief of the clan. He was taken prisoner by the English and only released after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. He led the Clan Mar at the Battle of Dupplin Moor against the English where he was killed in 1332.Thomas, 10th Earl of Mar died without heir and the Earldom passed to his sister, Margaret, Countess of Mar and then to her dughter Isabel Douglas, Countess of Mar. Isabel later married the Wolf of Badenonch Alexander Stuart. A rather shady character who had almost certainly been involved in the death of her first husband and who’s ‘wooing’ technique involved a prolonged siege! Isabel died with no children so title passed back to a descendant of Domhnall I, Earl of Mar, the 7th Earl of Mar.
15th to 16th Centuries
In the mid 15th century the Earldom of Mar passed to the chief of Clan Erskine, Robert Erskine, 1st Lord Erskine de jure 12th Earl of Mar. King James II of Scotland intervened in later successions and claimed the Earldom for the crown through Alexander Stewart and so the Earldom passed into Stewart family. This unlawful succession was finally interrupted by Mary, Queen of Scots, who saw that the rightful heir John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar was restored.
17th Century & Civil War
Chief John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar was governor of Edinburgh Castle and supported King Charles I more by default than through any great allegiance and had his estates forfeited until the restoration of Charles II for his son John Erskine, 19th Earl of Mar.
John, Lord Erskine and Earl of Mar, took up arms in the Royalist cause. The earl entertained James Graham the 1st Marquess of Montrose in 1645 in his castle at Alloa. He led the Clan Mar and Clan Erskine at the Battle of Kilsyth where they were victorious in August 1645.
18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings
Chief John Erskine, 22nd Earl of Mar supported the House of Stuart and the Jacobite cause during the uprisings. His son John 23rd Earl and Duke of Mar had his honours forfeited for supporting the Jacobite cause. These honours were restored in 1824 by Act of parliament.
The current chief of Clan Mar is Margaret of Mar, 30th Countess of Mar who descends from the Earls of Mar, first Creation.
It should be noted that the Clan Erskine now has a separate chief; James Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar who descends from the Earls of Mar, seventh Creation (1565) (as deemed by the House of Lords in 1875)
Septs of the Clan Mar include:
Marr, Marrs, Mair, Mairs, Morren, Strachan, Tough.