Clan MacTavish

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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan MacTavish


Welcome to Clan MacTavish

Clan MacTavish Team
Team Leader TBA
Team MembersDeb Buchner
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 MacTavish together with members bearing the name MacTavish, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan MacTavish.

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



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.

Crest- boar’s head erased or langued gules" encircled by a strap and buckle (belt) bearing the motto "NON OBLITUS".

Gaelic Name- MacTamhais

Motto- Non Oblitus , Do Not Forget Me after Death.

Plant badge

Lands- Dunardry, Argyll

Origin of Name- Gaeilic Son of Thomas

Region- Highland

District- Argyll

Pipe music- MacTavish Is Here

War cry- CRUACH MOR' , High Tall Stack.


Names associated with the clan:

Names, variant names, and septs for Clan MacTavish include Cash, MacCash, MacCavish, MacLehose, MacSteaphain, MacTavish, MacThom, MacThomas, Stephen(son), Steven(son), Tais, Taws, Taweson, Thom, Thomas, Thomason, Thompson, Thomson, Tod(d)

Clan Name Crest Badge Crest Lands Tartan

Dress Ancient

Tartan Hunting


CLAN MACTAVISH ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

MacTavish History Origins

Tavis, Tavis or Taus is considered, and accepted in multiple sources, as the progenitor, epytom and founder of Clan MacTavish. However, this is incorrect. The MacTavish consider themselves much older than the traditional stories of Argyllshire, promulgated by the old seannachies, and newer writers still insist upon the old stories, when none have looked beyond those traditional stories for any possible alternate origin. Such a beginning is found in the old Irish annals and the old writ, Ceart Ui Neill, out of Donegal, Ireland. The MacTavishes come from the Cenel nDuach a branch of the Cenel Conaill, descended from the Pictish Kings of Ros Guill and Irguill, now part of Donegal, and also from Dal-araidhe, now part of Antrim and Down. The Greek (Roman)historian, mapmaker and mathmetician, Ptolemy, mentions the tribe under the name of Ouenniknoi (Windukatii), and the lineage is tracable in such texts as the Irish Annuls of Ulster and Four Masters.

The clan can be traced back to the 12th Century where it was based around Dunrardarie in Argyll. the MacTavish clan was also known as 'The Children of the Mist', an acronym more commonly attributed to the clan MacGregor.

It is all too common to find documentation like that of Alastair Campbell of Airds whom in 2000, wrote a more probable candidate for the ancestor of the clan, rather than the possibly mythological Taus Coir, is the historical Sir Thomas Cambel. Earlier in the 1970s, W. D. H. Sellar was also of the same opinion about Thomas.

It is commonly held that Clan MacTavish descends from Taus (Tavis) Coir, son of Colin Mael Maith and a daughter of Suibhne Ruadh (Sween the Red of Castle Sween). Nothing certain is known of Taus Coir other than he is listed in traditional genealogies. The 17th century genealogy Ane Accompt of the Genealogie of the Campbells, randomly and inexplicably traces Colin Mael Maith back to the mythological King Arthur. Furthermore this record conveniently references Colin Mael Maith having one legitimate son and two illegitimate sons. The Accompt states the legitimate son as "Gillespic" or "Archibald", ancestor of Clan Campbell and the two illegitimate sons are "Taius Coir" and "Iver", ancestors of the MacTavishes and Clan MacIver.

It can be difficult to find accurate information about the history of Clan MacTavish. This is a result of the clan being ancient and the fact that history is written or rewritten by those in power whom often must go to great lengths in order to establish or strengthen their position.

The ancient and unbroken chiefly line of MacTavishes are styled 'MacTavish of Dunardry' (the Gaelic Dun-ArdRigh means "fort or castle of the High King"). It is unknown who built the castle of Dunardry, or even when it was built. The castle is marked on a 1634 Timothy Pont map. By 1686 it must have been in the possession of the Earls of Argyll. It was renovated in 1704 by Duncan MacTavish, and according to the 19th-century historian G.D. Mathews, it seems likely it was later owned by the MacTavishes. Today nothing exists of the site, as it lies beneath the Crinan Canal.

The name MacTavish is derived from the phoenetic pronunciation of MacTamhais which means "Son of Tammais" (Son of Thomas). It is likely that this changed in the 17th century as English became a more common language in Scotland than native Gaelic. Many other forms of the name manifest including Thompson, MacOmish and MacCombie

In 1292 his name is recorded on a list of landowners in the sheriffdom of Kintyre. In 1296 he signed the Ragman Roll as 'Thomas Cambel among king's tenants in Perthshire'. The next year he was released from his imprisonment in the Tower of London. In 1308 he signed his name on a letter to the King of France. He was possibly dead by 1324, when his probable son, Duncan, was granted lands in Argyl for services rendered. In 1355, Duncan is listed as among 'the Barons of Argyll' at an inquest in Inverleckan, under the name of "Duncanus MacThamais".

During the Rebellion of 1745 the clan was sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. he were also great friends to the nearby Campbells of Achnabreack but had uneasy relationship with neighbouring Campbell of Argyll. The Duke of Argyll betrayed Dugald MacTavish, son of Archibald the Clan Chief and he was imprisoned in Dumbarton for his alegiance to Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

During the bloody aftermath of Culloden many MacTavishes changed their name to Thompson to avoid the persecution perpretrated on the highland clans, some of these later claimed to be a sept of Clan Campbell which has led to confusion. Dugald's son and Heir, Lachlan MacTavish succeeded his father in 1775, but by 1785, was forced to sell Dunardry by public auction. although Lachlan had registered his Arms in 1793 and was intending to buy back Dunardry he died in 1796 and in a few generations the line of the Chief was lost. This was only reinstated in 1997 after the Lord Lyon had traced the chiefly line.

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Images: 1
MacTavish tartan
MacTavish tartan

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