Clan MacNaghten

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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan MacNaghten


Welcome to Clan MacNaghten

Clan MacNaghten Team
Team Leader
Team Members Nancy McNaughton
Clan Chief:
Slogan/War Cry:
Historic Seat:
Plant badge:
Pipe music:
Gaelic name:

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 MacNaghten together with members bearing the name MacNaghten, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan MacNaghten.

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 MacNaghten on Wikitree.
  • ensuring entries appearing on Wikitree are as accurate as possible, correcting mistakes once spotted.
  • encouraging interest in and study of Clan MacNaghten.


Clan History

Clan Branches

Other Names Associated with the Clan

Allied Clans

Rival Clans

Clan Research and Free Space Pages

Source Material

Image Credits and Acknowledgements

Information below this line should be summarized and incorporated into this Team page. Detailed information should be moved to additional Clan pages.

Clan MacNaghten ( MacNaughton)

Image:Clan Tartans-129.jpg

- Wikipedia Clan Macnaghten

Clan Chief: Sir Malcolm MacNaghten of MacNaghten, 12th Baronet. Chief of the Clan MacNaghten. Succeeded his father in 2007.

Crest: A castle embattled, Gules.
Motto: I hope in God
War cry: Fraoch Eilean - "The island of Heather"
Region: Highland and Lowland
District: Strathtay, Lewis, Argyll, Galloway
Plant badge: Trailing Azalea Proper
Pipe music:
Clan song: Rowan Tree
Gaelic name: MacNeachdain or MacNeachdainn "Son of Nechtan"

Evolution of Clan MacNauchtan Surnames-Beginning with the Word Nig

“To discover the origin of the surname of the Clan MacNauchtan we go far back into antiquity. The key lies in one small word of three letters: the Celtic root word nig. All authorities agree on this, and on the meaning of the word: to wash, to be clean. From nig came the old Pictish or Caledonian name-word necht, which means a pledge, or a clean person suitable to be given as a hostage.

From necht came the proper name Nechtan, which evolved through centuries into Nauchtan. Then came MacNauchtan, and a long series of variants: MacNaughtan, MacNaughton, Macnaghten, McNaughton, McNaught, McKnight, McNeight, McNutt, McNitt, and McNett. Add mentally to the abbreviated and corrupted forms about two score other surnames not to be listed here and you will have a quick view of the lush growth from the little seed nig, over a period of sixteen or eighteen centuries.

It was common in ancient Caledonia in the early days of the Christian era for rival clans to give hostages to bind agreements to keep the peace and stop raiding each other’s herds. A necht or hostage was likely to be a clean-hearted or knightly youth whose tribe would wish his ultimate return, and for whose safety it was worth while to practice restraint. It meant something to be clean in the dirty days of antiquity, when somebody in our past got himself named for what may have seemed a peculiarity.

The Celts often attached a diminutive suffix to the end of a name to indicate affection. A very early suffix was -an meaning little. So a pledge or hostage to whom the name Necht adhered became Nechtan or Little Pledge when the diminutive ending was added to his name. In later times the suffix -ie came into general use instead, and Scottish surnames show how through affection of parents and friends we came to have so many like Blackie, Dickie or Dickey, and Richie or Rickey. This us of the diminutive form continues today when we call children Jeanie, Robbie, Jamie, and Sandy. For a supposedly stern people, the Scots have betrayed in their name-forms a singular capacity for affection.

Henry Harrison in a standard work entitled Surnames of the United Kingdom informs us that the surname MacNaughton and McNaught are of common Celtic origin and derive from Nig. Necht or Neachd, and Nechtan. The actual difference in the two forms of surname of the old clan comes to this: MacNauchtan means son of the little pledge and McNaught means son of the pledge. The first written use of the surname in a still existing document was made in a charter or deed given approximately in the year 1246, when Malcolm MacNachtan was referred to as the father of Gilchrist MacNachtan. The suffix-an was replaced in the later times by the ending -on and -en.

Families in Scotland didn’t have established surnames until the latter half of the eleventh century, when King Malcolm Canmore encouraged his people to accept a practice already begun in some other countries. Even then only a beginning was made. Before that time, a man or boy was referred to as the son of his father. Thus Niel, son of William, was called Niel macWilliam. Niel’s son Robert was apt to be known as Robert macNiel. And so on, King Malcolm Canmore halted the procession and asked all hands to keep and pass along the names they were wearing. That is when MacNiel and MacNaughtan became fixed surnames. Often a “given” or Christian name persisted in a family and became the bases of the surname ultimately adopted, without the use of the patronymic “Mac”. Alexander is a good example. Men also took names from the places where they lived, and from their trades or occupations. Here are some examples of Scottish names: Galloway, Muir or Moore, Craig, Weaver, Webster, Miller, Baxter (baker), Lorimer (harness-maker), and Wright (carpenter). Colors were drawn upon too for such names as Black, White, Brown and Reid (red). But never Yellow. “

“Some of the Celtic scholars who have specialized in Scottish surnames are strict, perhaps excessively so, in their rules as how those beginning with Mac should be written. Dr. George F. Black, Author Surnames of Scotland tells us that only the sons of the Nauchtan of King Malcolm Canmore’s day should be recorded thus: MacNauchtan. Names of grandsons and all who have followed, properly should be written as Macnauchtan or Macnaughton, without using the capital N. The Antrim branch of the clan adheres to this rule and writes the name as Macnaghten.

But usage has powerful influence and does not defer to authorities. Even as early as the beginning of the fifteenth century it became customary to abbreviate Mac names, thus: M'Nauchtan. The apostrophe of writers and printers was an inverted comma, and it looked something like a small elevated c. Consequently, MacNauchtan or Macnaughton, like other surnames beginning with Mac, came to take the form McNaughton. That is the way such names are usually spelled in the United States and Canada today, but descendants of the clan with pride in the past often are found using the unabbreviated MacNaughton.”[1]

Clan branches

  • MacNaghten of MacNaghten (chiefs)
  • MacNaghten of Dundarave(historic chiefs)
  • MacNaught of Kilquhanty (senior cadets)


Names associated with the clan: Ayson, (Mac)Coll, (Mac)Cracken, (Mac)Harry(ie), (Mac)Hendry, (Mac)Henrie, (Mac)Henry, (Mac)Kendrick, (Mac)Knight, (Mac)Nair(y), (Mac)Naught, (Mac)Neid, (Mac)Natt, (Mac)Nett, (Mac)Nitt, (Mac)Norton, (Mac)Portland, (Mac)Quake(r), (Mac)Rac(k), (Mac)Racken, (Mac)Nutt, (Mac)Vicar(s), (Mac)Vicker(s), Mannis(e), Porter, Weir


  • The MacNauchtan Saga, A story-book history of an ancient clan and its branches with illustrations and biographies by V.V. McNitt Volume 1 pages 33-34. Privately printed 1951, Not in Copyright-Public Domain.

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MacNaughton tartan
MacNaughton tartan

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Categories: Clan MacNaghten