Clan Shaw

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Date: 3 Aug 2018 [unknown]
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Surnames/tags: Shaw Shaw of Tordorrach
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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Shaw


Welcome to Clan Shaw

Clan Shaw Team
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Team Members Beth Golden, Susie (Potter) Officer
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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 Shaw together with members bearing the name Shaw, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan Shaw.

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



Clan History

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

Clan Shaw

Part of this category represents the lowland family of Shaw that appeared in Lanarkshire. The Shaw family around Sauchie, Greenock and Lanarkshire/ Renfrew are a separate family from the Highland families. However researchers should not discount the possibility of marriage between the two branches.

The first mention comes from a Reginald Shaw who donated land to the monks of Paisley in 1282. This is recorded in the records of Paisley . Further reference is added in the book ' History of Renfrewshire' written in 1710 by George Crawford. Digitized copies can be found online.

The first record has James Shaw of Greenock , originally Sauchie, marrying a Mary DeAnnaud Daughter or Grand daughter to Galbraith of Greenock. The marriage was some time before 1431. There are two recorded sons, John, who inherited the Greenock lands and Sauchie, and an older brother who died without issue. The younger James ( for the purposes of this narrative, James the second)

Sir James the third is recorded of having one child, James who was born some time around 1430 and died in 1491. He is recorded as being captain of Stirling Castle, less than a day's ride from Sauchie.

Adapted from


The progenitor of Clan Shaw is believed to be Shaw MacDuff, a younger son of Duncan, the Thane or Earl of Fife, who was a descendant of Kenneth MacAlpin. Shaw MacDuff was made Keeper of Inverness Castle, which was a strategic royal castle, by Malcolm IV of Scotland. His heirs were known as the Mhic anToiseach, which means the sons of the Thane, and they supported the royal government, consolidating their power around Inverness. Shaw's grandson was Shaw MacWilliam, who in 1263 acquired lands at Rothiemurchus.

His son was Farquhard, who, due to problems with their powerful neighbors, Clan Comyn, made an alliance with Clan Donald by marrying Mora, daughter of Aonghas Mór, Lord of Islay. Farquhard's son was Angus Mackintosh, 6th chief of Clan Mackintosh, who married Eva, daughter of the chief of Clan Chattan (Chattan Confederation). Eva's second son, John-Angus, was the first chief of Clan Shaw.

Wars of Scottish Independence

The feud with Clan Comyn brought the Chattan Confederation support from Robert the Bruce, and they fought for him at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. They also took part in the Scottish invasions of England in 1318 and 1319.

14th century

The second chief of Clan Shaw was Shaw Macghillechrist Mhic Iain, who was a great grandson of Angus Mackintosh and Eva. He was known as Sgorfhiachlach, which means bucktooth and was raised with his cousins at Moy, seat of the Mackintoshes. It seems certain that he was present at the Battle of Invernahavon against Clan Cameron in 1370.

In 1391 Shaw was elected Captain of Clan Chattan for a raid on Angus under Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, who was known as the "Wolf of Badenoch". In 1396, Shaw was appointed to lead Clan Chattan at the Battle of the North Inch, a trial by combat against Clan Cameron, which took place in front of an audience that included Robert III of Scotland and the Dauphin of France.

15th, 16th and 17th centuries

The grandson of Shaw Bucktooth was Aedh, who settled at Tordarroch in 1468. He occupied a strategic site near the River Nairn and he and his followers became known as the "Clan Ay". On 22 May 1543, Angus MacRobert of Tordarroch was one of the signatories of a band of union and management of Clan Chattan, signed at Inverness. Shaw of Tordarroch signed a similar agreement on 4 April 1609. The clan prospered and Duncan Shaw, Laird of Crathienaird. rose to become Chamberlain to the Earl of Mar by 1691.

18th century and Jacobite risings

On 15 September 1715, Mackintosh of Borlum called out Clan Chattan to fight for the Jacobite cause in the Jacobite rising of 1715. The Shaw contingent was led by Robert :The Younger" of Tordarroch and his brother Angus. The Shaw contingent was noted for its discipline, equipment and bravery. Robert and Angus were both imprisoned after the rising had collapsed and Robert died soon after being released in 1718. Angus was transported to Virginia but was pardoned in 1722.

Angus never recovered from his experience or the death of his brother and, as a result, he refused to call out his clan for the Jacobite rising of 1745. However, many Shaws rallied to support the Jacobite Stuarts such as James Shaw of Crathienaird. Lady Anne Farquharson-MacKintosh called out the entire Clan Chattan to fight for the Jacobites, and two of her most trusted lieutenants were James Shaw and John Shaw of Kinrara.


In 1970, Major Iain Shaw of Tordarroch was recognized by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, as Chief of Clan Shaw. He was the father of the present chief in an unbroken line of continuity back to the ancient Earls of Fife.

Clan Castles

Doune of Rothiemurchus, two miles south of Aviemore in Strathspey, is an 18th Century mansion which replaced an earlier castle. The lands were held by the Shaws, Mackintoshes and the Dallases of Cantray. James Shaw of Rothiemurchus was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.

Tordarroch Castle, seven miles south of Inverness, was once a strong tower, but little survives. It was held by the Shaws from 1468. The castle was later replaced by Tordarroch House.

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Adapted from

The origin of the Shaws, at one time a most important clan of the Chattan confederation, has been connected with the Mackintoshes. The tradition of the Mackintoshes and Shaws is "unvaried", says the Rev. W G Shaw of Forfar; at least from and after 1396, a race of Shaws existed in Rothiemurchus, whose progenitor was the Shaw Mor who commanded the section of the clan represented by the Mackintoshes on the Inch.

The tradition of the Shaws is, that he was Shaw, the son of James, the son or descendant of Farquhar; the tradition of the Macintoshes - that he was Shaw-mac-Gilchrist-mac-Ian-mac-Angus-mac-Farquhar - Farquhar being the ancestor according to both traditions, from whom he took the name (according to Wyntoun) of Sha Farquharis Son. The tradition of a James Shaw who 'had bloody contests with the Comyns', which tradition is forfeited by that of the Comyns, may very likely refer to the James, who, according to the genealogies both of the Shaws and Mackintoshes, was the son of Shaw Mor.

Mr Shaw of Forfar, who is well entitled to speak with authority on the subject, maintains "that prior to 1396, the clan now represented by the Mackintoshes, had been (as was common amongst the clans) sometimes designated as the clan Shaw, after the successive chiefs of that name, especially the first, and sometimes as the clan of the Mac-an-Toisheach, i.e., of the Thane's son. Thus, from its first founder, the great clan of the Isles was originally called the clan Cuin, or race of Constantine. Afterwards, it was called the clan Colla, from his son Coll, and latterly the clan Donald, after one of his descendants of that name. So the Macleans are often called clan Gilleon after their founder and first chief; and the Macphersons, the clan Muirich, after one of the most distinguished in their line of chiefs. The Farquharsons are called clan Fhiunla, after their great ancestor, Finlay Mor. There is nothing more probable, therefore - I should say more certain - than that the race in after times known as Mackintoshes, should at first have been as frequently designated as Na Si'aich, 'The Shaws', after the Christian name of their first chief, as Mackintoshes after his appellative description or designation. It is worthy of remark, that the race of Shaws is never spoken of in Gaelic as the 'clan Shaw', but as 'Na Si'aich' - The Shaws, or as we would say Shawites. We never hear of Mac-Shaws - sons of Shaw, but of 'Na Si'aich - The Shaws'. Hence prior to 1396, when a Shaw so distinguished himself as to found a family, under the wing of his chief, the undivided race, so to speak, would sometimes be called 'Mackintoshes', or followers of the Thane's sons, sometimes the clan Chattan, the generic name of the race, sometimes 'clan Dhugaill', (Quehele) after Dougall-Dall, and sometimes 'Na Si'aich', the Shaws or Shawites, after the numerous chiefs who more the name of Shaw in the line of descent. Hence the claim of both Shaws and Mackintoshes to the occupancy of Rothiemurchus. After 1396, the term Na Si'aich was restricted, as all are agreed, to the clan developed out of the other, through the prowess of Shaw Mor".

Shaw "Mor" Mackintosh, who fought at Perth in 1396, was succeeded by his son James, who fell at Harlaw in 1411. Both Shaw and James had held Rothiemurchus only as tenants of the chief of Mackintosh, but James's son and successor, Alister "Ciar" (i.e., brown), obtained from Duncan, 11th of Mackintosh, in 1463-4, his right of possession and tack. In the deed by which David Stuart, Bishop of Moray, superior of the lands, confirms this disposition of Duncan, and gives Alister the fen, Alister is called "Allister Kier Mackintosh". This deed is dated 24th September 1464. Allthe deeds in which Alister is mentioned call him Mackintosh, not Shaw, thus showing the descent of the Shaws from the Mackintoshes, and that they did not acquire their name of Shaw until after Alister's time.

Alister's grandson, Alan, in 1539, disposed his right to Rothiemurchus to Edom Gordon, reserving only his son's liferest. Alan's grandson of the same name was outlawed for the murder of his stepfather, some fifty years later, and compelled to leave the country. Numerous Shaws are, however, still to be found in the neighbourhood of Rothiemurchus, or who can trace their descent from Alister Kier.

Besides the Shaws of Rothiemurchus, the Shaws of Tordarroch in Strathnairn, descended from Adam, younger brother of Alister Kier, were a considerable family; but, like their cousins, they no longer occupy their original patrimony. Tordarroch was held in wadset of the chiefs of Mackintosh, and was given up to Sir AEneas Mackintosh in the end of last century by its holder at the time, Colonel Alexander Shaw, seventh in descent from Adam.

Argus MacBean vic Robert of Tordarroch signed the Bond of 1609 already mentioned. His great-grandsons, Robert and AEneas, took part during their father's life in the rebellion of 1715; both were taken prisoners at Preston, and were confined in Newgate, the elder brother dying during his imprisonment. The younger AEneas, succeeded his father, and in consideration of his taking no part in the '45, was made a magistrate, and received commissions for his three sons, the second of whom, AEneas, rose to the rank of major-general in the army. Margaret, daughter of AEneas of Tordarroch, was wife of Farquhar Macgillivray of Dalcrombie, one of the three officers of the Mackintosh regiment who escaped from Culloden.

AUneas was succeeded by his eldest son, Colonet Alexander Shaw, lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Man under the crown. He gave up the wadset of Tordarroch to Sir AEneas Mackintosh, and died in 1811.

From the four younger sons of Alister Kier descended respectively the Shaws of Dell (the family of the historian of Moray, the Rev Laclan Shaw); of Dalnivert, the representation of it devolved in the last century on a female, who married - Clark; the Farquharsons, who in time acquired more importance than the Shaws; and the Shaws of Harris, who still retain a tradition of their ancestor, Iver MacAlister Ciar.

Source: William G. A. Shaw, Seannachaidh of the Clan

Meaning of Name: First, Foremost, or Leader. Possibly Tempest, Storm or the Wolf

Gaelic Name: Na Si’each, or Mhic Sheaghd

Family Slogan: Fide et Fortitudine. (By Faith and by Fortitude. We force nae friend, we fear nae foe.)

Crest Badge: A Dexter Arm, the hand holding the dagger, pale, proper (The crest of the personal Arms of John Shaw of Tordarroch)

Plant Badge: Red Whortleberry or Boxwood (By old tradition, also a sprig of fir.)

Pipe Music: The Rothiemurchus Rant, The Shaws March.

Areas of Influence: Rothiemurchus, Strathnairn, Upper Glengairn, Deeside, Nr. Crathie, Glenshee and Glenisla, Harris and Jura.


War Cry: "Na Bean Ris A Chat" (Touch not the cat)

Region and District: Highland, Strathspey

Septs: Adamson, Adamsone, Ademson, Ademsoun, Ademsoune, Aesone, Aison, Aissone, Aissoun, Aissoune, Asson, Assone, Aue, Ave, Ay, Aye, Ayesone, Ayson, Aysone, Aysoun, Ayssoun, Eason, Easone, Easson, Esson, Ison, Isone, MacAy, Saythe, Scaith, Scayth, Schau, Schaw, Schawe, Scheoch, Scheok, Schiach, Schioch, Schioche, Seah, Seath, Seith, Seth, Sha, Shau, Shawe, Shay, Sheach, Sheath, Sheehan, Sheoch, Shiach, Siache, Sith, Sithach, Sithech, Sithig, Skaith, Sythach, Sythag, Sythock, Tordarroch

Allied Clans: Chattan Confederation; Clan Mackintosh

Rival Clans: Clan Comyn; Clan Cameron

Images: 1
Shaw tartan
Shaw tartan

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Categories: Clan Shaw