Clan Ross

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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Ross


Welcome to Clan Ross

Clan Ross (Scottish Gaelic: Clann Anndrais [ˈkʰl̪ˠãũn̪ˠ ˈan̪ˠt̪ɾɪʃ]) is a Highland Scottish clan.

The original chiefs of the clan were the original Earls of Ross. [1]

Current Clan Chief: David Campbell Ross

Crest: A hand holding a laurel wreath.[2]

Motto: Spem successus alit - "Success nourishes hope".[2]

Region: Highlands
District: Ross
Plant badge:
Pipe music:
Gaelic name:

Clan Team

Clan Ross Team
Team Leader TBD
Team Members Andrew Ross, Sue Ross, Douglas Ross, Rosemary Maclean, Will Ross, Mark Sutherland-Fisher

Team Goals

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

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

Clan History

Clan Ross originated in Northern Scotland between modern day Dingwall and Tain. Before the Roman invasion of Britain, this area was occupied by Picts, a group of Celtic-speaking people. Their Latin name, Picti, appears in written records from the 3rd to the 10th century. They achieved a large degree of political unity in the late 7th and early 8th centuries through the Kingdom of Fortriu. By the year 900, they had merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland).

At that time, Ross was part of the vast earldom of Moray. It became a separate earldom in the mid 12th century, when Máel Coluim is found designated as the Earl of Ross around 1168. There is some controversy concerning his origin as it is not clear if Máel Coluim was the son of Beth (or Áed or Eth), Mormaer of Ross, or instead an illegitimate son of the King Alexander I.

Even when it is accepted that Máel Coluim was the son of Áed of Ross, this has raised further questions concerning the background of his kindred and the nature of their claims. The general consensus favors a background in Ross with claims to the Mormaerdom and descent from the Scots royal house, perhaps through Domnall, son of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada, who died in 1085.

After Máel Coluim passed away, the title was granted in 1161 by the King of Scotland, William the Lion to Floris III of Holland upon Floris's marriage to William's sister Ada of Huntingdon. However, Floris held the title only in a nominal sense, as he took no active part in the governance of Ross. The title seems not to have been passed on, for in 1291 Floris's descendant is found complaining that the earldom had been deprived from him.

13th Century

The true founder of Clan Ross was the famous Ferquhard, of the Ó Beólláin family. Ferquhard was the son of the lay parson of the monastery of Applecross, and was hence known as MacIntagart, meaning "son of the priest". In 1215 the newly crowned King of Scotland Alexander II was forced to suppress a rebellion in Moray and Ross. Ferquhard sided with the king, and captured the rebel leaders, before beheading them and presenting their heads to the king. For this he was knighted and eventually created Earl of Ross around 1226. In 1235, King Alexander invaded Galloway and was saved during battle by Fearchar, who lead the men of Ross.

Around 1238, the local Abbey was transferred to a site called New Fearn, which is a short distance from Tain. This has been the burial place place of the Ross Clan Earls and Chiefs and is still in use today. In 1251, Fearchar died and was buried at the new Fearn Abbey with the stone effigy of a warrior marking his grave. His son Uilleam (William) then became Earl of Ross.

During this time, Norway controlled the Hebrides and Alexander II was unsuccessfully negotiating their purchase. Long after his death, his son Alexander III recruited Uilleam the Earl of Ross and Kjarnac Macmaaghan to raid the Isle of Skye in the year 1262. They burned towns and churches and slew many people. In retaliation, King Haakon IV of Norway lead over a hundred ships with thousands of men towards an invasion of Scotland. However, while wintering in Orkeny, Haakon died and his fleet returned to Norway. The Hebrides were then sold to Scotland and land near Loch Alsh was granted to the Macmaaghan's descendants; the Matheson's.

Uilleam died in 1274 with his son, who also named Uilleam, becoming the next Earl of Ross. In 1284 Uilleam II joined with other Scottish noblemen who acknowledged Margaret, Maid of Norway as heir to King Alexander III. However, she died before ever receiving the honor.

When Edward I, the King of England invaded Scotland in 1296, Uilleam II, fought him at the Battle of Dunbar. After the Scottish defeat, Uilleam II was captured and sent to prison in London. Large areas of Ross and Murray then broke out into open revolt led by Andrew Murray and William Wallace. By 1298 after his defeat at Falkirk, Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland in favor of Robert the Bruce who persisted thru years of guerrilla warfare and was eventually crowned King of Scotland in 1306.

14th Century

In 1303, Uilleam II the Earl of Ross was released from prison and allowed to return to the north. His son and heir Hugh was a favorite of future King Robert the Bruce, who endowed him with many lands. Hugh even married Roberts sister Matilda in 1308 in the Orkney Isles. With Matilda, he had a son who became his successor William III. In 1320, Uilleam II was one of eight earls whose name appears on the Declaration of Arbroath. Uilleam II died in 1323 at Delnay Castle in Ross. William III was in Norway at the time of his father Hugh's death at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.

William III returned to Scotland and was at the Siege of Perth in 1339. Aware that the defensive channel of water around the town made it difficult to enter, Ross and his men diverted water and filled the ditch with driftwood, giving them access to the city walls and forcing the English to abandon the city.

In 1355, Euphemia, a daughter of Hugh married Robert Stewart, the sole son of the 6th High Steward of Scotland and Marjories Bruce. She would later become Queen of Scotland. Earl William III's only son, also named William, died in 1357 leaving the Earldom with no direct heir.

In 1368 a cousin, Hugh Ross of Rarichies was granted the lands of Balnagown, which would eventually become the home of the Ross Clan Chiefs for several hundreds of years. Rarichies, which is south of Tain is located north east of Nigg on the Fearn Peninsula.

The direct line of Ferquhard continued until the death of William, 5th Earl of Ross, in 1372 at Delnay Castle. William had two daughters, the eldest of which, Euphemia, married Sir Walter Leslie, who then became the Earl of Ross. This lead to a dispute over control of the earldom of Ross. Eventually, the Earldom was directed to another family. In 1375, construction of Balnagown Castle commenced.

15th Century

Clan Ross was lead by Hugh's of Rarichies's son William the 2nd and grandsons Walter the 3rd and Hugh the 4th of Balnagown. In 1411, the Clan fought as Highlanders in support of the Lord of the Isles against an army of Scottish Lowlander who supported the Duke of Albany. The Clan also supplied some of the many Scottish troops supporting France during its Hundred Years war with the English. In 1424, at the Battle of Verneuil though, they suffered heavy causalities.

In 1427 the document listing the exemption of payments (privileges) within Tain was destroyed during a clan feud. On April 20, 1439, Hugh the 4th of Balnagown was a member of an inquest into Tain's legal status and witnessed the agreement concerning it between the Churches of Fearn and Tarradale, which was near Dingwall.

Hugh, the 4th of Balnagown had numerous sons. His son John became the 5th of Balnagown while William became the 1st of Shandwich. The Shandwich branch was prosperous. Williams son Walter become the 2nd of Shandwick. Walter married 5 different wives (Janet Tulloch, Agnes M'Culloch, Elizabeth Hay, Christian Chisholm & Janet Munro). By Janet Tulloch he had 4 sons. Walters son Donald would continue the Shandwich line, while his son Hugh became associated with Balmachy, which eventually led to the Balblair branch.

In 1486 Clan Ross slaughtered a raiding party from the Clan Mackay by locking them in the old Tarbat Church and setting fire to it. This event is known as the Battle of Tarbat. In 1487, the Mackay's gained revenge by killing many of the men of Ross including Chief Alexander the 6th of Balnagown in the Battle of Auldicharish.

John, the 5th of Balnagown had four sons; Alexander become the 6th of Balnagown, while Donald obtained the Priesthill estate near Delny.

16th Century

In 1522, Andrew Munro from the neighboring Clan is said to have been hanged from Balnagown Castle after being found guilty of many dastardly deeds.

Alexander's son David became the 7th of Balnagown with his grandson Walter becoming the 8th of Balnagown. David married twice; first to Hellen Keith and then to Margaret Stewart daughter of the Duke of Albany. David Ross died on May 22, 1527 while Walter Ross was murdered the next year in 1528 by a cousin called Hugh Ross. Walter's brother William eventually became the 1st of Invercharron and his brother Hugh became the 1st of Tolly & Achnacloich (Rosskeen).

Walter's son Alexander then became the 9th of Balnagown and thus Clan Chief. In 1553 Alexander ordered the purchase of numerous luxury items such as pepper, ginger, sugar and aniseed as well as chain mail coats and canons. Apparently, he planned to attack some of his neighbors with the canons. Then, being near bankruptcy, he became better known for his violence and lack of scruples in his dealings.

Officially, Ross-shire went Presbyterian in 1560. Alexander's son George attended St. Andrews University as a student in 1567 and became the 10th of Balnagown while his other son Nicholas became the 1st of Pitcalnie. George in turn had a son, grandson and great grandson each of whom were all named David, and who all became Chiefs of the Clan.

In 1572, Chief Alexander Ross led a raid on the lands of Alexander Innes of the Plaids. Alexander Ross stole crops and livestock and took Innes and his wife hostage forcing them both to sign over much of their lands. Innes's Castle at Cadboll was later attacked with cannons. In 1573, Alexander Ross was imprisoned in Edinburgh (Tantallon castle) for four months and compelled to pay a fine. After being released, he refused to complete payments and lived in defiance of the Government. A 'Fire and Sword' order was issued allowing him to be captured. Because of his fathers poor behavior, his son George signed a letter dated August 2, 1577, urging his father to serve God and be obedient to his King. By 1583, Alexander's behavior had not improved and he was legally denounced as a rebel. Alexander died at Ardmore in 1592 and was buried at Fearn Abbey.

Alexander also had a daughter named Katherine, who married the chief of the Munro Clan; Hector Munro. Following some family quarrels, in May 1577 she plotted to kill her husbands oldest son so that his widow could marry her brother George Ross. George's current wife was also to be killed. Katherine conspired with several individuals to procure the necessary poisons. However, after being exposed the group was labeled witches and put on trial. Her accompliaces were convicted and burned to death, but she managed to avoid punishment.

In 1583, Robert within the Shandwich branch is born. He goes on to become a Minister in Alness and the father of at least 5 sons. His son William born in 1593 becomes the 5th of Shandwick.

17th Century

George Ross, the 10th of Balnagown passed away in 1615 and was buried at Nigg. In 1619, David the 11th of Balnagown also died at Ardmore. The Clan was then led by David the 11th followed by David the 12th. In 1638, he signed the National Covenant at Inverness. In 1650, David the 12th of Balnagown while on the side of the Presbyterian Covenanters helped inflict a heavy defeat on the Royalist Army during the Battle of Carbisdale near Culrain in Sutherland. The following year, at the Battle of Worcester, David the 12th was captured along with eight hundred Clansmen. Most died, but some are shipped to the American colonies as indentured servants.

In 1679 the Reverend George Aeneus Ross is born to David Ross of Balblair and his wife Margaret Stroncah. He went to school early and showed promise in Latin. He became a Presbyterian minister and a missionary and eventually traveled to America.

In 1689, 100 men of Clan Ross occupied Castle Leod to watch for movement of Jacobite MacKenzies. This castle, which was an inspiration for the Outlander Movie, is located in the Easter Ross village of Strathpeffer west of Dingwall.

18th Century

On April 17, 1711, David Ross, the 13th of Balnagowan and Chief of Clan Ross, died without issue while deeply in debt, most of which was inherited from his grandfather and father (supporting the King against uprisings and paying fines). Some of the debt was due to renovations to the castle, mortgaging it to cover debts, repairs to churches, generous assistance to his clansmen, and acting as sheriff of Ross (appointed by King William of Orange to form a garrison to uphold Presbyterianism in the north and to protect Inverness).

In 1715, during the Jacobite rising, Clan Ross and others are forced into retreat by Clan MacKenzie during a skirmish at Alness. The Ross's were only armed with sharpened wood poles as they had previously agreed to give up their weapons to the government.

Between 1716 to 1745, the Ross's politically controlled Tain while the Munros controlled Dingwall. In 1719, Clan Ross fought for the government at the Battle of Glan Shield where the Jacobites were defeated.

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the chiefs of the Highland Clan Ross supported the British-Hanoverian Government. The rising of 1715 was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Sheriffmuir and another rising had been defeated at the Battle of Glenshiel in 1719, where troops from the Clan Ross had again fought in support of the Government and defeated the likes of the Jacobite Clan Mackenzie. William Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth, chief of Clan Mackenzie, had been exiled in France for his part in the Jacobite rising of 1715 but had also returned briefly to Scotland to take part in the Jacobite rising of 1719, before returning to exile in France.

In 1720 two members of the Clan Ross - William Ross, 6th of Easter Fearn (ex-Provost of Tain) and his brother Robert Ross (Baillie of Tain) - had been appointed factors on the estates of Mackenzie of Seaforth, Chisholm and Glenmoriston. The following year, in 1721, they went on an expedition to collect rents with those estates. The Rosses set off from Inverness with thirty armed men, picking up a further fifty armed men from Bernera Barracks. The Murchison family being a sept of the Clan Mackenzie, Colonel Donald Murchison was Mackenzie of Seaforth's factor who had been collecting rents and sending them to his master in France.

While on their journey to Mackenzie of Seaforth's lands in Kintail, the Rosses who were attended by a small company of soldiers met three hundred men of Clan Mackenzie and their allies Clan Macrae in Glen Affric. Historian Alan Mackenzie says that the Rosses were "ambushed" at near Loch Affric. The Mackenzies and Macraes were commanded by Colonel Donald Murchison of Auchtyre and Lochalsh who had been sending the rents to Mackenzie of Seaforth in France.

A skirmish took place between the two sides in which the Rosses were outnumbered. William Ross of Easter Fearn was the first to be wounded by fired shots. However, he continued to give orders to his troops to advance and clear the ground of lurking clansmen. They had some success in this respect and were able to proceed to a narrow gorge in Kintail which led into Loch Affric, where they were then ambushed by Murchison's men. William Ross's son Walter Ross and also his nephew William Ross (son of his brother Robert Ross) were also wounded. Realizing that further resistance was useless William Ross met Colonel Murchison between the lines and a discussion took place. The Rosses agreed to return home, promising never again to officiate as factors and as a token of sincerity handed their commissions to Donald Murchison.

In 1724, General Wade reported that the estimated combined clan strength of the Rosses and Munros at 700 men.

In 1745, Charles Ross the 13th of Hawkhead and 15th of Balnagown, was killed while leading some members of the clan at the Battle of Fontenoy in France.

In 1730, in America a son George is born to the Reverend George Aeneas Ross and his wife Anna Catherine. George studied law, became a Lawyer and in 1776 signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1735, his sister Gertrude Ross is born. She marries George Read, who also signed the Declaration of Independence.

19th Century

Harmon Pumpelly Read, a descendant of both the Rev George Aeneas Ross and George Read. In the later part of the century, he traveled from New York State to Scotland in order to fully document Ross genealogy. He produced the book "Rossiana", which was eventually published in 1908.

Clan Branches








Little Tarrell


Nether Pitkerie


Fychie, Little Alland & Eye


Ankerville and Easterfern

Tolly & Arhnacloich


Logie Easter

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.

Names associated with the clan: Aindrea Anderson Andersone Andersonne Andersoun Andersoune Anderston Andesoune Andie Andirsoone Andirsoune Andison Andree Andreson Andresoun Andrew Andrewes Andrews Andrewson Andro Androe Androson Androsone Androsoun Androsoune Androw Andrson Andy Andyrson Anndra Connan Connen Connon Corbart Corbat Corbatt Corbet Corbeth Corbett Culloch Dinguel Dingvaile Dingvaille Dingval Dingvale Dingvall Dingvell Dingwall Dingwell Dungwail Duthe Duthie Dyngvale Dyngwaile Dyngwale Enderson Endherson Endirsone Fearn Fearne Fearns Fern Ferne Gallanders Gaudie Gilanders Gilandres Gilandrias Gillaindreis Gillanders Gillandres Gillandris Gilleanndrais Gilleanris Gillenders Gillendrias Gulloch Hagart Haggart MacAlach MacChullach MacClullich MacColloch MacColly MacCoulach MacCoulagh MacCoulaghe MacCowlach MacCuley MacCullach MacCullagh MacCullaghe MacCullaigh MacCullauch MacCullie MacCullo MacCulloch MacCullocht MacCullogh MacCulloh MacCullough MacCully MacGillanders MacGillandras MacGillandrew MacGillandrish MacHulagh MacHullie MacIlendrish MacIllandarish MacIntagart MacIntagerit MacIntargart MacKculloch MacKildash MacKinsagart MacKintaggart MacKowloch MacKowloche MacKulagh MacKullie MacKulloch MacKullouch MacKyntagart MacKyntaggart MacLulaghe MacLulaich MacLulich MacLulli MacLullich MacLullick MacOloghe MacOulie MacOwlache MacSagart MacTagart MacTaggard MacTaggart MacTaggate MacTaggert MacTaggit MacTear MacTeer MacTeir MacTer MacTere MacTeyr MacTier MacTire MacTyr MacTyre MacUlagh MacUlaghe MacUllie MacUlloch Makawllauch Makcoulach Makcowllach Makcowloch Makcullo Makculloch Makcullocht Makhulagh Makintalgart Makteir Makter Malcowlach Mteir Myketagart Pathillock Patillo Patillok Pattillo Pattillock Pattullo Pattullok Patullo Patullow Pethilloch Petillok Pettillo Pettillok Pettillow Pettullock Petulloch Petullow Pitilloche Pitiloch Pittilloch Pittillock Pittillocke Pittilluo Pittulloch Pitullich Pyttyllok Ros Ross Rosse Tagart Taggart Taggert Tegart Teggart Tolach Tulach Tulache Tullach Tullauch Tullawch Tullo Tulloch Tullocht Tulloich Tulloicht Tullow Tulloycht Vas Vase Vass Vassie Vaus Vauss Vaux Vaws Wais Was Wass Waus Wause Wauss Waux[2]

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Categories: Clan Ross