The Scottish Clans Association (based in Auckland) was formed to help Clans get established in NZ by empowering groups of enthusiastic and dedicated individuals start and maintain their ancient heritage.
Clan Keith - Clan of the Great Earls Marischal of Scotland
The family of Keith was amongst the oldest in Europe and after the Scots had a complete victory over the Danes, a young noble was rewarded by King Malcolm II with the Barony of Keith in East Lothian and the hereditary title of Marshal of Scotland until 1715 when the last Earl forfeited his estate and honours for supporting the rebellion thus ending their distinguished service of 700 years to the crown. Dunnottar Castle was the stronghold for the Keith family while their lands were concentrated around Aberdeen.
The Clan Keith in New Zealand is part of a worldwide family with a shared link to the Keith family, the Clan, and to the Earl of Kintore the hereditary Chief. Clan Keith in NZ has a web presence on Face Book.
The family of Buchanan originates from Anselan Buey Okyan (or Ochahan) who was also present at the victory over the Danish invaders circa 1016, and was also rewarded by Malcolm II with lands from the River Endrick in the South to Inversnaid in the North and the entire area covered today by the Queen Elizabeth National Forest Park which includes the mountain of Ben Lomond. The 22nd Laird died in 1681 with no sons and huge debt that led to the purchase of the lands by the Duke of Montrose who built Buchanan Castle. The Chiefship is currently dormant.
As one of the largest Clans there is a prolific amount of information about Clan Donald and some interesting discussions ensue about their lineage as they share descent with Clan MacDougall from Somerled and occasionally their dynasties are referred to as the Clann Somhairle.
There are numerous branches to the clan with chiefs recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms which are: Clan Macdonald of Sleat, Clan Macdonald of Clanranald, Clan MacDonell of Glengarry, Clan MacDonald of Keppoch, and Clan MacAlister. Some branches without chiefs recognised are: the MacDonalds of Dunnyveg, MacDonalds of Lochalsh, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and the MacDonalds of Ardnamurchan.
The Clan origins are a little shrouded. The first Chief of the Mackenzies, believed to be Colin/Cailean came from Ireland in 1262, and may have been the son of the Norman family of Fitzgerald, Earls of Desmond and Dukes of Leinster, or possibly a soldier of fortune descended from the ancient Italian family of Gherardini. However later studies now direct the descendancy with more surety to descent from Gilleon na Aird, with a close connection to the Clans Anrias (Ross), Matheson, MacMahon and McIntyre.
Colin was rewarded with the post of Governor of Eilean Donan Castle in 1265 after saving the life of his King by killing a stag as it charged him whilst hunting. The records held at Iona record that he distinguished himself at the Battle of Largs.
Many clans have been associated with William the Conqueror however there is more conclusive evidence that the Bruce line of nobility is from Brix in Normandy, France and the 1st Lord of Annandale, Robert de Brus was given 80 manors in Yorkshire after assisting King Henry I in 1106 after his victory at Tinchebray. The Clan acquired further lands in Skelton comprising 13 manors up until King David I sent Brus to negotiate after the invasion of England in 1138. It would be another 168 years before the Bruce ascended the throne, although with suspicion surrounding the nobles and their methods of securing alliances and lands it is felt their restless urge for power was at the sacrifice of the trust of their families.
After gaining much of Skye in the mid 13th Century including the Cuillins, Harris and Lewis and acquiring Dunvegan by marriage where the principle seat of the Clan was established, the castle was subsequently built and developed. In the 14th Century Glenig was acquired, the strategic crossing point to Skye from the mainland where the keep was built.
Simon Fraser made a gift of a church at Keith in East Lothian to the monks at Kelso Abbey around 1160. These lands eventually passed to a family who became Earls Marishal of Scotland after adopting Keith as their name. The Frasers moved into Tweedale in the 12th and 13th centuries and from there into the counties of Stirling, Angus, Inverness and Aberdeen. About five generations later, Sir Simon Fraser (the Patriot) was captured fighting for Robert the Bruce, executed by Edward I in 1306. The Patriot’s line ended in two co-heiresses.
Clan MacPhee (MacFie)
The last Chief of the Clan was murdered on the Island of Colonsay in 1623 (the ancestral home of the Clan) by Colla Ciotach MacDonald. He was tied to Carraig Mhic a' Phi at Balaruminmore (a Standing Stone now immortalised) and shot. Although the Clan history can be traced back to before written records, it is generally accepted that the Clan is one of the oldest in Scotland and was formally recognised by the Court of the Lord Lyon - the heraldic authority of Scotland - on the 27th May 1981.
The upraised arm in the Crest of the Armstrongs represents the act of strength and heroism of the Standard Bearer and Squire to the King of Scotland when he saved his master clad in full armour when his horse was killed under him on the field of battle by lifting him, one handed, onto his own horse. He was rewarded with the title Sir Strong Arm and granted lands in the region of Roxburghshire which would become the family seat. More recently Neil Armstrong raised the Clan profile by becoming the first human to set foot on the moon.
The King of Scots, David I, appointed Walter fitz Alan in the 12th century as his High Steward and in this capacity he granted lands to Alan Little at Cairntable, Ayrshire. Dumfriesshire had been settled by the Littles in the 1300's with the Conservator of the Peace being recorded as Nicol Little. The 1st Laird of Meikledale, Simon Little, is considered the first Chief of the Name due to a land grant being confirmed in 1426 by James I after his return from captivity in England. Simon had been granted tenure of Meikledale by Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany.
Researchers of Clan Matheson have found 3 possible origins for their family name and today have settled on the gaelic translation 'Son of the Bear' from MacMathan therefore the 2 bears as supporters in the Chief's heraldic arms. Early records show the clan resident in Lochalsh in Wester Ross with lands granted by the Earls of Ross to include Lochcarron and Kintail with Kenneth MacMathan as possibly the first Constable of Eilean Donan Castle prior to 1262. Successive leaders of Clan Matheson are credited with having a business acumen that allowed them to support their vassals and kept them in Scotland, for the most part, whilst other clans were being harshly evicted from thier lands during the Clearances.