Clan Chattan

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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Chattan


Welcome to Clan Chattan

Clan Chattan Team
Team Leader
Team MembersBeth Golden, Amanda Suggs
Clan Chief: The current chief, MacKintosh of Torcastle, resides in Zimbabwe.
Motto: Touch not the catt bot a glove. ‘Bot’ may mean “without” or “ungloved”, either being a warning to those who would harm the clan.
Slogan/War Cry: Loch Moidh!
Region: Originally centered in Lochaber, the Clan Chattan’s area of hegemony encompassed the wide geographic areas of Strathdearn / Strathnairn, central and upper Strathspey and parts of Deeside and upper Glenshee.
Historic Seat:
Plant badge: Vaccinium vitis-idaea or Red Whortleberry
Pipe music: In a traditional tune archive, there is a tune titled, Clan Chattan by J. Scott Skinner (1843 - 1927), but its history and significance other than the title is unknown.
Gaelic name: Clann Gillacatan

Clan Team

Team Goals

The focus of this team's work is to identify, improve and maintain profiles associated with the Lairds and Chiefs of Clan Chattan together with members bearing the name Chattan, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan Chattan.

Team To Do List

This list will be developed by the Team. If you are working on a specific task, please list it here:

  • promoting the entries of those bearing the name Chattan on Wikitree.
  • ensuring entries appearing on Wikitree are as accurate as possible, correcting mistakes once spotted.
  • encouraging interest in and study of Clan Chattan.


Clark, Clarke, Clarkson, Clerk, MacChlerich, MacChlery, MacFall, Maclerie, MacPhail, Macvail

Clan History

Clan Chattan Crest Badge

Origin of name

The origin of the name Chattan is disputed, but there are three main theories: [1]
  • The name derives from the Catti, a tribe of Gauls, driven out by the advancing Romans;
  • The name is taken from Cait, an ancient name for the present counties of Caithness and Sutherland; or
  • The most widely accepted theory which says that the clan derives its name from Gillchattan Mor, baillie of Ardchattan, follower of St Cattan.
Until the early 14th century the Clan Chattan was a seperate Scottish clan with its own chieftencey, until Angus Mackintosh, 6th chief of Clan Mackintosh married Eva, the daughter of Gilpatric Dougal Dall, the 6th chief of Clan Chattan. Thus Angus Mackintosh became 6th chief of Clan Mackintosh and 7th chief of the Clan Chattan. The two clans united to form the Chattan Confederation, headed by the chief of Clan Mackintosh.

Clans of the Clan Chattan Association

Following the defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the clan was severely diminished in strength and influence. In 1747 several smaller clans united to form the Clan Chattan Association as a way to stimulate interest in the clan history. The Association floundered and a second Association was founded in 1893, but again died out around 1900. The third Association was founded in 1933 in London and continues to this day. [1]
The clans that currently make up the Clan Chattan Association are as follows:

Chief of Clan Chattan

In 1942 the leadership of Clan Chattan was passed from the Mackintosh of Mackintosh line, to the Mackintosh of Torcastle line. The current chief, MacKintosh of Torcastle, resides in Zimbabwe.

The Council of Clan Chattan

There is currently a council of eight chiefs, representing the major clans of the Chattan. [1] [2]
  • John Mackintosh of Mackintosh (President)
  • Captain A.A.C. Farquharson of Invercauld
  • Honourable Sir William McPherson of Cluny
  • John Shaw of Tordarroch
  • James McBain of McBain
  • Alister Davidson of Davidston
  • Andrew McThomas of Finegand
  • The Very Reverend Allan MacLean of Dochgarroch.
Crest Badge: A cat salient, proper - see Clan Chattan Crest Badge [3] and Clan Chattan History and Crest [4] and Crest Products [5] and Clan Chattan Crest.[6] The Clan Chattan is often known as the "Clan of the cats" for its constituent clans mostly carry the wild cat in their badges. This may be a pun on their origin with the devotee of St. Cattan. Each Clan has the cat in its own particular pose.
Pibroch: Cu’a’ Mhic an Tosaich
Tartan: The individual Clans of the Chattan Confederation had their own tartans, but there is a Clan Chattan tartan, formerly known as Mackintosh Chief, recognized by Lord Lyon in 1938 - see Tartans for Clan Chattan [5]
Clan Chattan Tartan
Places of Interest:
  • Rothiemurchus Old Church, near Aviemore, Badenoch and Strathspey. The Grave of Shaw Mór, traditional leader of thirty Clan Chattan champions at Perth.
  • Ardchattan Priory, Loch Etive, Argyll. This was consecrated in honour of Gilliechattan Mór [8].
  • North Inch, Perth. Clan Battle fought between thirty champions of Clan Chattan (Mackintosh) and thirty champions of Clan Cameron, 1396 [9] .
Plant badge: Red Whortleberry lat. vaccinium vitis-idaea - which is found in abundance in forests, moors and in the slopes of the hills of Clan Chattan Country. In Gaelic it is known as Lus nam braoileg; in Latin, Vaccinium vitis-idaea and elsewhere the Cowberry. It flowers from May to August and from then until October produces a berry which gradually turns from green to a deep red.
Red Whortleberry
Arms of the Captain or Chief: Blazon: Quarterly 1st Or a lion rampant Gules langued Azure 2nd Argent a dexter hand clutching a heart Gules a label of three points each charged with a bull's head cabossed of the field 3rd Azure a boar's head erased Or langued Gules armed Argent 4th Or a lymphad sails furled and oars crossed in saltire Azure flagged Gules overall an inescutcheon as the 4th. [10]
Arms of Clan Chattan Chief

History and Stories

‘The Clan of the Cats' was a very unique confederation in Highland history. The early Clan Chattan confederation had its beginnings in the mists of the 12th century. In 1291 its fortunes combined with that of the burgeoning Clan Mackintosh with the marriage of Eva, heiress of the 6th Chief of Clan Chattan with Angus Mac Ferquhard, the 6th Chief of Clan Mackintosh [[:Category:Clan_MacKintosh].|This pivotal union focused and grew the power of the now combined clans towards the central Highlands. Other small clans and tribes soon were linked to the confederacy by marriage or joined for mutual self-protection. The Clan Chattan eventually comprised of a confederation of 16 clans, tribes and families and was the second or third largest clan entity in the Highlands. From Largs and Bannockburn to Culloden Moor, the Clan Chattan was a collective military force to be reckoned with, taking part in many of the significant battles fought throughout Scotland's history. Originally centred in Lochaber, the Clan Chattan’s area of hegemony encompassed the wide geographic areas of Strathdearn/Strathnairn, central and upper Strathspey and parts of Deeside and upper Glenshee (Interactive Map]) .
In 1609 the clans signed a formal Bond of Union “..that perpetual friendship, amity and kindness may remain and abide betwixt them and their chief in times coming and amongst the saids hail kin of the Clan Chattan.” The first witness was the Provost of Inverness. In 2009 on the 400th anniversary of its signing, the clans met to re-sign the updated Clan Chattan Bond of Union, again witnessed by the Provost of Inverness. It was accompanied by various celebrations to "highlight the unbreakable ties to the history, land and traditions of this unique tribal confederation. It is also a testimony to the ancient and evergreen bonds of friendship and family relationships that has allowed the Clan Chattan to survive and thrive for over 800 years of Scottish history." [11]
The early history of the Clan Chattan Confederation is murky to say the least. Some historians say the confederation was originally composed of the following clans, who were either allied to the MacKintoshes and MacPhersons by genealogy, or who, for their own protection or other reasons, had joined the confederacy: - the Mackintoshes, Macphersons, MacGillivrays, Shaws, Farquharsons, MacBeans, MacPhails, Clan Tarril, Gows (Clan Smith) (said to be descended from Henry the Smith, of North Inch fame), Clarks, MacQueens, Davidsons, Cattanachs, Clan Ay, Nobles, Gillespies. "In addition to the above sixteen tribes, the MacLeans of Dochgarroch or Clan Tearleach, the Dallases of Cantray, and others, generally followed the captain of Clan Chattan as his friends" Of some of these little or nothing is known except the name. [12]
Clan MacBain historians [13] say that the original group of Clans who formed the Clan Chattan were related as a family, and therefore the term “blood” was often used for these earliest members of Clan Chattan. These five clans were:
  • Clan MacKintosh
  • Clan Cattanach
  • Clan MacPherson
  • Clan McBean (McBain) and
  • Clan MacPhail
The marriage of Angus and Eva, they say, brought four more related clans into the association
  • Clan MacKintosh
  • Clan Shaw
  • Clan Farquharson and
  • Clan McCombies (Thomas) (MacThomas)
Other Clans then joined the confederation over time for mutual protection:
  • Clan MacGillivray
  • Clan Davidson
  • Clan MacLean of Dochgarroch
  • Clan Tarril
  • Clan Smith (or Gow)
  • Clan MacQueen
  • Clan Andrish
  • Clan Clark
  • Clan MacIntyre of Badenoch and
  • Clan MacAndrew

Early Leaders

Before there was a Clan Chattan Confederation or Association, Clan Chattan was a more traditional clan in its structure. The early leaders of the clan are as follows:
  1. Gillcattan Mor, first known chief of Clan Chattan (before about 1090)
  2. Diarmuid (around 1090)
  3. Gillicattan (prob. before 1153)
  4. Muirach MacPherson, grandfather of three branches of Clan MacPherson (before 1214)
  5. Gillicattan (before 1249)
  6. Dougal (or Gilpatric) (between 1249 - 1286)
  7. Angus MacKintosh, 6th Chief of Clan Mackintosh, married Eva, daughter of Dougal, to become the 7th Chief of Clan Chattan also. (about 1291 to 1345)
  8. William MacKintosh (before 1368)
The leadership of Clan Chattan was identical to that for Clan Mackintosh from then on until 1947. In that year, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the ultimate authority on such matters, separated the leadership of Clan Chattan from that of the Mackintoshes, recognising Duncan Alexander Mackintosh of Torcastle as 31st chief of Clan Chattan through the female line.
For a list of some of the previous chiefs of Clan Mackintosh who were also chiefs of the Chattan Confederation until 1938, see Clan Chiefs.
Interestingly, the leadership of several of the other clans that would later make up the Clan Chattan Confederation also sprang from this same line. This interrelationship is outlined in the following chart.
Clan Chattan Leaders

The Feud

In the time of Malcolm II of Scotland [14] the Clan Chattan possessed the lands of Glenloy and Loch Arkaig. It was here that Tor Castle became the clan chief's seat. When Eva married Angus MacKintosh, they first lived together at Tor Castle in Glen Loy for a few years before Angus had to flee from the Lord of Islay, into exile in Badenoch. The Clan Cameron then moved in and occupied the lands, claiming later that they had been abandoned. This provoked about 360 years of feuding that often turned violent over the area. The two clans and their allies fought their first of many battles, the Battle of Drumlui (in which the Camerons were defeated), in either 1330 or 1337; this long and bitter feud would last until the stand-off at the Fords of Arkaig in 1665.
William Mackintosh, the son of Angus and Eva, had his right to the lands confirmed by charters from John of Islay, Lord of the Isles in 1337 [15] and from King David II [16] in February 1359. These charters and the marriage formed the basis of the Mackintosh claim on the lands, even though they were occupied by the Clan Cameron for many years.
Tor Castle

The Battle of Invernahoven

In 1370 around 400 men of the Clan Cameron were returning from a raid on Badenoch. Travelling southwest up the Spey valley, they were overtaken at Invernahavon by a body of Chattan Confederation forces led by Lachlan, Laird of MacIntosh, consisting of Mackintoshes, Davidsons and Macphersons. Unfortunately, before they could engage the smaller Cameron force, the Macphersons withdrew from the army, after an argument about who would hold the post of honor. This left the remaining Clan Chattan men outnumbered and they were soon defeated by the Cameron force, led by Charles MacGilony - their best archer.
Tradition has it that a man from Clan Mackintosh then went to the Macphersons’ camp, pretending to be from Clan Cameron and calling the Macphersons cowards. As a result the Macphersons changed their minds and attacked the Camerons the next morning with such vigor, that the Camerons were slaughtered - even killing Charles MacGilony at a place now called Charles’s Valley (in Gaelic Coire Thearlaich). The remaining Camerons were “put to flight” up the Truim valley towards Drumochter, turning homeward at Dalwhinnie, west towards Loch Treig. [17]

The Battle of the North Inch

The Battle of the North Inch (also known as the Battle of the Clans)[18] was a staged battle between the Chattan Confederation and the "Clan Kay" in September 1396. 30 men were selected to represent each side in front of spectators that included King Robert III of Scotland [19] and his court, on land that is now the North Inch park [20] in Perth, Scotland [21].
The Chattan Confederation killed all but one of their opponents at a cost of 19 deaths on their own side, and were awarded the victory. It is not clear who they were fighting: it may have been their traditional enemies Clan Cameron[[:Category:Clan_Cameron]|or it may have been Clan Davidson Category:Clan_Davidson,|in an internal dispute for precedence in the Chattan line of battle in future campaigns against the Camerons.
Recent historians believe the battle was an internal dispute between two clans from within Clan Chattan over who should take precedence in order of battle. At the King's insistence, David Lindsay], 1st Earl of Crawford and Dunbar, had attempted to get the two feuding clans to settle their differences amicably. This failed, however, which led the two chiefs to put forth the notion of a trial by combat between members of the two parties, with the monarch awarding honours to the victors and a pardon to the defeated.
The clansmen agreed, and on a Monday morning in late September, the clans marched through the streets of Perth to the western banks of the River Tay. Barriers were erected on three sides of the Inch, and the Gilded Arbour summerhouse of the Dominican Friary was adapted into a grandstand for the King and his entourage. As the battle was about to begin, it was discovered that Clan Chattan was one man short, having only 29. They quickly offered Henry Smith (a local harness-maker and armourer) half a French crown of gold and a guarantee that he would be maintained for life if he survived, to fight for the Clan Chattan side. The offer was accepted, and the battle was given the go-ahead.
The two sides ran towards each other and were soon engaged in bloody hand-to-hand combat, armed with bows and arrows, swords, targes, knives and axes. The battle continued until only eleven members of Clan Chattan (including Henry Smith) and one of the Cameron's was still alive. The latter, realizing his was a lost cause, jumped into the Tay and swam to safety, handing victory to the Chattan's.
A vivid account of this battle was written by Sir Walter Scott in The Fair Maid of Perth.

The Massacre of Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday in 1429 members of the Clan Chattan Confederation, including the Clan Mackintosh, attacked a branch of the Clan Cameron, which was assembled in a church in Lochaber. According to Clan Cameron accounts, the church was set on fire "and nearly destroyed the whole clan (Cameron)." In other accounts of the engagement, it is said that "most of the Mackintoshes and almost the whole tribe of Camerons were cut to pieces." [22]

Battle of Craig Cailloch

In 1441, Clan MacKintosh, at the instigation of Alexander, Lord of the Isles, began to invade and raid the Cameron lands. On one of those raids, a sanguinary clash with Clan Cameron at Craig Cailloch resulted in MacKintosh’s second son, Lachlan “Badenoch” being wounded and Gillichallum, his brother, being killed.

Raid on Ross

In 1491 in the Scottish Highlands Clan Mackenzie fought against several other clans, including the Clan MacDonald of Lochalsh, Clan MacDonald of Clanranald, the Clan Cameron, and the Chattan Confederation of Clan MacKintosh.

Battle of Garbhain

This battle was fought between the Clan Cameron and Clan Mackintosh in 1570. Donald Dubh Cameron, XV Chief of Clan Cameron, had died, leaving an infant son, Allan, at the head of the clan. During the battle, the chief of MacKintosh is believed to have been killed by Donald ‘Taillear Dubh na Tuaighe’ Cameron, (son of the XIV Chief of Clan Cameron), with a Lochaber axe.

Standoff at the Fords of Arkaig

The feud with Clan Cameron officially ended at the Standoff at the Fords of Arkaig in 1665.
The Clan Chiefs of Clan MacKintosh and Clan Cameron were ordered by the Privy Court to end the dispute over the lands near Loch Arkaig once and for all. While MacKintosh was declared to have the legal right, Cameron was declared to be the owner. Cameron was ordered, therefore, to pay MacKintosh a large sum of money for the land, but MacKintosh refused to accept it.
Soon thereafter Clan MacKintosh and the Chattan Confederation assembled an army of 1500 men. In response the Camerons raised a force of approximately 1000 men, who took up a defensive stance at Achnacarry. The Camerons’ biographer records that there were 900 men armed with guns and broadswords and a further 300 men armed with bows. It seemed that the battle to end all battles between these two ancient adversaries was about to commence.
However just as Clan Cameron began their attack, the powerful Clan Campbell arrived on the scene. John Campbell, Chief of Campbells, had brought with him 300 men and declared that he would fight against whichever side initiated the impending battle. The Cameron Chief, Ewen, stopped his attack and withdrew all his troops. As a result one of the bloodiest feuds in Scottish history came to an end after 360 years.
On September 20th, 1665, a contract was signed by both Chiefs of Cameron and MacKintosh, wherein Cameron agreed to pay 72,500 merks to buy the previously disputed lands from MacKintosh. Then, at a place called Clunes, around 24 men from each side met face to face and shook hands for the first time in generations. Here they exchanged swords as a token of reconciliation and drank together. Stand off

The Last Clan Battle In Scotland

In 1688, the old isse with the Macdonalds of Keppoch, who had persisted in occupying Mackintosh’s lands in Glen Roy and Glen Spean without paying rent, was brought to a head at Mulroy. In this encounter the Mackintoshes were defeated, and the chief himself taken prisoner. But then, the Macphersons of the Clan Chattan Confederation arrived on the field and forced the Keppochs to release their captive.

The Stewart Risings

In 1688, the Mackintoshes supported the new Protestant regime when James VII and II fled the throne of Great Britain.
But, in the Rising of 1715, Lachlan, 20th Chief, was captured at Preston as part of the army commanded by Brigadier Mackintosh of Borlum. He later received a pardon.
Aeneas Mackintosh, 22nd chief, [23] had just raised a company for the Black Watch, when Prince Charles arrived in Scotland in 1745, and he kept to his oath of allegiance to the State, despite his wife being the 22-year-old daughter of the Jacobite Farquharson of Invercauld.
Not until January 1746, against her husband’s wishes and when most knew that the Prince’s cause was hopeless, did she raise the clan to fight at the Battle of Falkirk, earning herself the sobriquet of Colonel Anne.
The Prince stayed at Moy Hall on his retreat north. The Government army got news of this and Lord Loudon set off with 1,500 men to capture him. However, Colonel Anne did not bother to rouse the Prince, but ordered the local smith and four companions into the path of the soldiers, telling them to shout out as though the entire rebel army was waiting. Loudon was so alarmed that he retreated some 70 miles to Sutherland rather than risk an engagement.
Moy Hall
At the Battle of Culloden, the Mackintoshes and their Clan Chattan allies charged into the enemy lines and suffered massive casualties. Colonel Anne was captured and Moy Hall ransacked.
The lady herself was escorted to Inverness where, after a short imprisonment, she was put into the care of her mother-in-law. A few years later, at a ball in London she danced with the Duke of Cumberland. [24]

Other Names Associated with the Clan

Victorian historians appropriated as many Septs and dependent families as they could to their parent Clans, but the 1,256 different surnames claimed by one authority for Clan Chattan must surely be the record. Many of these families were linked by blood as supposed descendants of Gillichattan Mor – the great servant of St. Cathan – of the ancient Culdee Church [25] [26].

see Clan Chattan Surnames

Allied Clans

Rival Clans

Clan Research and Free Space Pages

Source Material

Image Credits and Acknowledgements


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 CH01 - Scot Web overview of Clan Chattan and Confederation - Profile, Chiefs, History [1]
  2. CH03 - Clan Chattan Assoication - Clan Chiefs [2]
  3. CH02 - Clan Chattan Association - Clan Motto and Badge [3]
  4. CH04 - Scots Connection - Overview of Clan Chattan History and Crest [4]
  5. 5.0 5.1 CH05 - House of Tartan - Clan Chattan Tartans and Crest [5]
  6. CH06 - Scot Clans - Clan Chattan Crest Badge [6]

See Also:

  • Clan Chattan Appendix for additional sources
  • History of Clan Chattan and the Clan Chattan Confederacy [27]
  • Wikipedia Article on the Clan Chattan Confederation [28]
  • Clan Chattan Association [29]
  • History of Clan Chattan [30]
  • Overview of Clan Chattan [31]
  • Clan Chattan Crest and Tartan [32]
  • Clan Coat of Arms, etc. [33]
  • Journal of the Clan Chattan Association [34]
  • Historical Memoirs of the House and Clan of MacKintosh and of the Clan Chattan - Alexander MacKintosh MacKintosh - Google Books [35]
  • Battle of North Inch (aka Battle of the Clans) in Perth, Scotland in 1396 - Wikipedia [36]
  • Clan Chattan Genealogies [37]
  • Electric Scotland Overview of Clan Chattan [38]
  • Clan Chattan Confederation on Wikipedia [39]
  • Robertson, James Irvine, "A bloody clan co-operative (Clan Chattan)," Scotland Magazine, Issue 27 [40]
  • Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 102–103.
  • Wikipedia - Clan Chiefs [41]
  • History of Clan Chattan - Electric Scotland [42]
  • Address on the History of Clan Chattan at the Clan Chattan Association meeting [43]
  • Blood Clans of Clan Chattan - see MacBain of MacBain [44]

Clan Categorization Of Ancestral Profiles

If you or a member of your family, or an ancestor are a member of Clan Chattan, a member of one of the clans belonging to the Clan Chattan Confederation, or the Clan Chattan Association, please add the Clan Chattan Category and or the Tartan background to the ancestral profile - see Using Categories, or instructions on using the Clan Chattan template below.
... ... ... is a member of Clan Chattan.
... ... ... has an interest in Clan Chattan, part of the Scottish Clans Project.

Images: 1
Chattan tartan
Chattan tartan

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Comments: 2

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I have two suggestions/comments.

1. Chattan is not a clan, but a Confederation of Clans 2. The crest shown is for Mackintosh, not Chattan. The Chattan Crest is "a cat salient proper" and looking to the left.

posted by Dave McIntosh
Yes, thank you Dave. This is clearly explained on the Team page and includes links to the other Clans that are part of this association. I will ask the team members to address the Crest issue.
posted by Amy (Crawford) Gilpin

Categories: Clan Chattan