Chronological Table of the Chiefs of Clan Cameron
II Gillespick or Archibald
V Sir John de Cambron
VI Sir Robert de Cambron
VII John de Cambron
VIII John de Cameron called John Ochtery
IX Allan Macochtery
c. 1400-1460 XI Donald Dubh
c. 1460-1480 XII Allan nan Creach, Captain of Clan Cameron
c. 1480-1546 XIII Ewen Allanson or MacAllan, Captain of Clan Cameron
1546-1553 XIV Ewen Beag, grandson of Ewen MacAllan
1553-1569 XV Donald Dubh MacConell VicEwen, brother of Ewen Beag
1569-1647 XVI Allan MacIlduy of Lochiel, Captain of Clan Cameron
1647-1719 XVII Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, grandson of Allan MacIlduy
1719-1747 XVIII John Cameron of Lochiel (Lord Lochiel in the Jacobite Peerage)
1747-1748 XIX Donald Cameron of Lochiel (The Gentle Lochiel), de facto Chief from 1716
1748-1762 XX John Cameron of Lochiel
1762-1776 XXI Charles Cameron of Lochiel, brother of John
1776-1832 XXII Donald Cameron of Lochiel
1832-1858 XXIII Donald Cameron of Lochiel
1858-1905 XXIV Donald Cameron of Lochiel, M.P.
1905-1951 XXV Sir Donald Walter Cameron of Lochiel, K.T.
1951-2004 XXVI Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel, K.T
2004- XXVII Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel
Ardvorlich lists the above traditional descent of the Chiefs of Clan Cameron as given in The History of the Camerons by Alexander Mackenzie (1884).
He notes that it is probably fictitious and is only recorded because it shows the customary numeration of the Cameron chiefs which has been is use for many years.
Donald Dubh (XI chief) is the first authenticated chief of the Clan in Lochaber. (1)
Donald Dubh (XI chief)
The history of Clan Cameron as has been most reliably recorded begins about 1400 with the first authenticated chief Donald Dubh (XI chief).
Ancestral history of Clan Cameron prior to this period is based on no more than tradition. As the editor of The Life of Dr Archibald Cameron (1753) writes at the time: ‘No Records nor registers, nor Genealogies so ancient, can at this day be produced, but what was found among the Druids and Poets, who were retained by Persons of Figure to commemorate in Verses and Songs, the mighty Deeds of their Ancestors.” He goes on to suggest that “the genealogy is so wrapped up in Fable and Romance, that a Relation of them would appear much in the same Light as the Histories of St George, etc”(2)
Ardvorlich draws on much of the history from John Drummond’s Memoirs of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel (1733), with nearly all the Lochiel family papers and records being destroyed in 1746 when Cumberland’s troops burnt the chief’s residence of Achnacarry to the ground. (3)
According to Celtic genealogical theory Cam-shron (Cameron) is a descriptive adjective meaning ‘crooked nose’, and this description, applicable to one of the early chiefs, after the manner of the Gael, passed on to his descendants. Donald Dubh Cameron married the MacMartin daughter and either through this or his own prowess assumed the leadership of captaincy of the confederation of tribes which later formed Clan Cameron.
Another theory, based on descent from the de Cambrun family in Fife is essentially based on the heraldic continuity of the Cameron coat of arms. Somerled MacMillan, Bygone Lochaber (1971) writes in support of this theory but provides no further evidence, and with no tradition to support this theory. (4)
The Cameron YDNA Project being undertaken in conjunction with FamilyTreeDNA.com is endeavouring to determine the Cameron origins. To date there is insufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions but what is available tends to support descent from the ‘antient Scots or Caledonians, that first planted the country’ as written by Drummond. (3)
The results of Cameron YDNA Project testing to date indicates a Celtic origin, not Norse/Germanic, but whether Gael or Picts is unclear.
From Donald Dubh all the later chiefs derived their Gaelic patronymic, MacDhomhnuill Dubh (the son of a dark haired or swarthy Donald) by which name the present chief is known in Gaeldom.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, the most important tribes in Lochaber were the Clan Donald, the Clan Chattan, and the Mael-anfhaidh. The Mael-anfhaidh consisted of three main tribes; the MacMartins of Letterfinlay; the Macgillonies (Mac ghille-anfhaidh); and the MacSorlies of Glennevis (Sliochd Shoirle Ruaidh). The MacMartins are said to have provided the chief of this confederation of tribes until Donald Dubh Cameron, as mentioned, assumed the leadership or captaincy of the confederation of clans which later formed the Clan Cameron.
In 1396 the gladiatorial Battle of the North Inch of Perth took place. This contest between representatives of two rival clans was fought in a specially prepared arena, surrounded by seats for spectators, and was watched by the flower of the Scottish nobility. Twelve men from each clan, some say thirty, chosen for their prowess, fought with sword and targe before the King, Robert III, who acted as judge. Actually the identity of the two clans engaged has never been established beyond doubt, but many authorities claim that the contest was arranged to settle the differences between Clan Macintosh and Clan Cameron, but if this was the case it was singularly unsuccessful. It is debatable which side won, but the feud went on as bitterly as before. This feud was to continue with varying fortunes for the next three hundred and fifty years!
Donald Dubh became chief at the time when the Lordship of the Isles was at its zenith. He is first heard of when he rose in support of Donald, and Lord of the Isles, in his rebellion of 1411. He raised a large force from amongst his own Clan Donald, and from his vassals and followers amongst whom were Donald Dubh and his followers. This army met the force of the Regent Albany at Harlaw, near Aberdeen. The Battle of Harlaw was a particularly bloody affair, and became known as “Red Harlaw.” The result was indecisive, for casualties were so heavy on both sides that they could fight no more.
Eighteen years later, when Alexander, 3rd Lord of the Isles gathered his forces and attacked and sacked the town of Inverness, Donald Dubh with the Camerons rose in his support. The Macintoshes too formed part of his force. When, however, Alexander was returning to Lochaber he was intercepted by King James I with a large army. Donald Dubh and the Macintoshes, finding themselves opposed to their Sovereign, deserted Alexander of the Isles and joined the forces of the King. Some say that on this account Alexander’s army was defeated, and Alexander himself submitted to the King and was imprisoned.
In the same year the two clans (Cameron and Macintosh) had a desperate encounter. Balhaldie writes, ‘Though the Camerons and Macintoshes agreed in their principals of loyalty, yet their former quarrel about the estate divided them as much as ever, and brought them to an engagement on Palm Sunday, with most of the Macintoshes and almost the whole tribe of Camerons cut to pieces.’ (3)
In the meantime Donald Balloch, cousin of Alexander of the Isles, rose to avenge Alexander’s imprisonment. Having defeated a Royal force, which included the Clan Cameron, sent to quell him at Inverlochy, he turned his attention to the Camerons and the Clan Chattan (Mackintosh), ravaged their country, putting it to fire and sword. The King then led an army into the Highlands, and the rebel forces disintegrated.
In 1437 the King was murdered, and Alexander, Lord of the Isles was liberated. He lost no time taking vengeance on the Camerons. Not only had they deserted him in 1429, but they had refused to join Donald Balloch’s revolt in 1431. Donald Dubh Cameron was forced to flee to Ireland about 1438, and Alexander bestowed the Cameron lands upon John Garve Maclean of Coll. Donald Dubh soon returned to protect and lead his people. The clan retained the occupation of their lands by defeating the Macleans in a battle at Corpach.
Allan MacDonald Dubh (XII chief) also called Allan nan Creach
Donald Dubh’s son, Allan MacDonald Dubh (XII chief), must have succeeded his father shortly after 1461. The Camerons had apparently made their peace with the MacDonalds by this time. Allan had married a MacDonald lady, and in 1472 was appointed Keeper of the Castle of Strome (also called Strone), a MacDonald stronghold on Lochcarron in Ross-shire. Allan M’Coilduy is said to be one of the bravest captains of his time, having made 32 expeditions into his enemy’s country for the 32 years he lived. A Cameron raid upon Macintosh’s lands, which was thwarted by the duplicity of his neighbour and relative Keppoch, who secretly arranged to help Macintosh by attacking the Camerons in the rear. This led to the defeat of the Camerons, and Allan was killed in the heat of the fray (circa 1480). On account of the frequency of his raids and skirmishes he became known as Allan nan Creach (Allan of the Forays.)
Ewen MacAllan (XIII chief) also known as Ewen Allanson
Ewen MacAllan (XIII chief) must have succeeded his father, Allan MacDonald Dubh, sometime after 1480. Balhadie writes, ‘But though in order to facilitate the adjusting matters with Macintosh he marryed Marjory, daughter to Duncan, then chief of that name, yet all his endeavours to bring about an agreement proving ineffectuall, the war broke out with more fury than before.’ Many and bloody conflicts continued between them, but the Camerons, being commanded by a Chief who had the advantage of all his neighbours proved too hard generally for Macintosh. (3)
Ewen built himself a strong house at Torcastle, not on the actual land granted but very close to it, probably on a site where there had been a dwelling or castle for hundreds of years. The site was a strong one on a mind or tor, as the name implies. Overgrown ruins are still visible today. Previously the Captains of the Clan had had their main residence on Eilean nan Craobh, one of the small islets in Loch Eil, just off the shore from Corpach.
Ewen had a long and stormy life which ended on the scaffold in 1546. He lived in the eventful years which witnessed the decline and fall of the Island Lordship.
Ewen Beag (XIV chief)
Ewen Beag (XIV chief), who became captain of the clan on the execution of his grandfather, inherited little but trouble. The Lochiel lands had been forfeited and granted to Huntly, including the “Fortalice of Torcastell,” Glenloy and Locharkaig.
These were troubling times. Ardvorlich suggests that the underlying reason was for the desire by the clan to survive as an independent organisation in the lands inhabited by the clan for generations. Primary factors were:
- The determination by the Camerons, once they had a foothold in the disputed lands, never to give them up.
- The rivalry for feudal superiorities between Huntly and Argyll.
- The determination of Lochiel to hold his lands direct from the Crown if possible, not as a vassal dependent on the policies of a superior whether Huntly or Argyll.
- The policy of the Lochiel chiefs in giving protection to ‘broken men’ and other lawless elements in return for service as fighting men. (1)
Donald Dubh MacConell MacEwen(XV chief)
Ewen Beag, having no legitimate heir, was succeeded by his brother Donald Dubh MacConell MacEwen (XV chief) in 1553. Donald Dubh married a daughter of Hector Mor Maclean of Duart. There is a mystery as to his death; Gregory states that he was murdered by his own clansmen, and there is some evidence that this may have been the case. With Donald Dubh’s death or murder in 1569, the clan sank into a state of anarchy during the minority of Allan, his son, and peace, even if somewhat uneasy, was not restored until Allan became captain in 1577. (5)
Allan Cameron of Lochiel (XVI chief) also known as Allan MacDonald Dubh
Allan (Allan MacDonald Dubh – XVI chief) was a child when his father died or was murdered in 1569, and the leadership of the clan devolved upon his tutors, his great-uncles Ewen Cameron of Erracht, and John Cameron of Kinlochiel, both younger sons of Allan’s great-grandfather Ewen MacAllan or Allanson, by his second wife Marjory Macintosh. The tutors seem to have been unpopular, certainly with a large section of the clan. So little were they trusted that young Allan was sent for safety to the Isle of Mull to be brought up by his uncle, Hector Og Maclean of Duart. Later, his education was entrusted to Mr. John Cameron, Minister of Dunoon.
The tutors, particularly Erracht, the senior one, are said to have taken possession of the Lochiel lands, and to have treated them as if they were their own. Erracht in fact claimed the chiefship for himself. They entered into an agreement with their relative Macintosh regarding the disputed lands which was so detrimental to the interests of the clan that they were forced to repudiate it. This brought upon them the wrath of Macintosh, and so uncertain were they of the support of the clan in opposing him that they had to enlist the help of the Taillear Dubh who was the natural son of Ewen Beag of Lochiel, and who, being a near relative to young Allan, and a man of great ability and valour, was trusted and supported by the greater part of the clan.
The Taillear Dubh and his followers met the Erracht faction led by Ewen of Erracht’s son, Donald Dubh M’Ewen, at Inverlochy Castle where Donald Dubh was murdered by some of the Taillear’s men. The Taillear Dubh then took command of the clan until such as Allan could return and command it himself.
Donald M’Ewen M’Connell or Donald MacEwen Bhig, known as the Taillear Dubh na Tuaighe, was one of the clan’s most colourful figures. As a child he was nursed by the wife of a tailor who lived at Blar na Cleireach, near Lundavra, hence his by-name. Later he was brought up by MacLachlan of Coruanan, head of a tribe who were followers of Lochiel. He became an expert in the use of arms, and was particularly dexterous in the use of the Lochaber Axe, his favourite weapon.
Some years after Allan took command of the clan, the Grants invested Macintosh with the lands of Lochalsh which had belonged to the Camerons, but had been conveyed to the Grants as compensation for the depredations of the “Raid of Urquhart” in 1546. This was bound to be resented by the Camerons, but worse was to follow. In 1598, a commission was granted to Huntly, Macintosh, Grant of Freuchie, and others to apprehend Lochiel and all the chief men of the clan for various crimes they had committed. The commission was ineffective and two years later Allan threw in his lot with Huntly, probably because Huntly was by this time at enmity with Macintosh and the Grants. In an indenture dated 1590/91, Huntly agreed to leave Allan in full possession of his lands on condition that Allan agreed to support him with all his strength and resources. Allan, however, was to be consulted and acquainted with all Huntly’s designs. As a result, the Camerons invaded the Macintosh and Grant lands and killed “XLI of Macintoshes and XXIII tenants of Grant, and hurt the Laird of Balendalough.” Other affrays followed, in one of which fifty Camerons are said to have been killed.
Thus Lochiel, a Protestant, was on the side of Huntly, the great Catholic noble, at the Battle of Glenlivet, where a confederation of Argyll, Atholl, the Forbeses and the Macintoshes was defeated by Huntly and his adherents. Although Huntly was in favour with the King, James had to punish him in deference to the popular demand for vengeance by the Presbyterian faction, so that Huntly gained little by his victory, and had to go into temporary exile for a few years. During the years of Huntly’s exile and forfeiture, Lochiel found himself a rebel with no one to protect him.
This then is the point where the Camerons were to suffer from the rivalry of Argyll and Huntly, for their lands came within the sphere of influence of both nobleman.
Huntly, before his forfeiture, had had control of nearly all of Lochaber, and had been superior of all the Cameron lands. Now he found Argyll controlling the whole of the Cameron lands west of the River Lochy, and he did not like it. As noted, there had been a rift in the clan for some time. Huntly, perceiving this, took advantage of it and suborned Alister Cameron of Glennevis and others, promising them feudal independence from Lochiel.
Lochiel had to assert his authority at all costs for the loyalty of his clansmen which no King or Government could confer. He arranged a meeting with his disloyal clansmen, but suspecting treachery, made the following plan. He was to meet with them with a few men to discuss terms, but 120 of his most trusted followers were to be hidden in a nearby wood. If treachery was intended and he was attacked, his small party would retreat hastily, and that was the sign for his men to fall upon the enemy in the rear. The plan worked to perfection, and sixteen of the ringleaders, including Alister of Glennevis and John Bodach of Erracht were put to the sword.
Macintosh obtained a new commission to apprehend Lochiel as well as Keppoch and his son. As Macintosh had the King’s backing, and had been granted as ample powers as Argyll had for the suppression of the Clan Gregor, Lochiel, knowing that Huntly would resent so much power being placed in the hands of Macintosh, thought the time was ripe for negotiating with Huntly. Lochiel was forced to agree to acknowledge Lord Gordon’s rights of ownership, his son John Cameron was to hold the Mamore part of the estate as his vassal. Cameron of Glennevis and Cameron of Letterfinlay were granted charters for their lands. The rest of the estate to the east of the Lochy became the property of Huntly, though he undertook not to disturb the Cameron tenants.
At this time the Camerons faced their most perilous situation for the last hundred years. They had no effective charters for land held direct from the Crown. Argyll was the virtual owner of all their lands west of the Lochy, except for Glenloy and Locharkaig, held on mortgage of Macintosh. Lord Gordon, Huntly’s son, owned all those to the east, except those held by John Cameron as his vassal. All this had been forced upon Lochiel to preserve his clan from utter destruction.
Allan Cameron of Lochiel was finally granted a remission or all his past “misdeeds,” such as they were, in 1624, and from that time Chief and Clan were at peace except for a few minor raids and disturbances. The most important of these was the Second Raid of Moyness in 1645. Allan must have been a very old man and probably had little to do with it. The Camerons lifted a large number of cattle from the Grant lands of Moyness in Morayshire. Allan MacDonald Dubh died in April, 1647, after what can only be described as a long and stormy life. He was a very old man for he must have been close on 85 years old. There is a fitting memorial to this great Captain of Clan Cameron at Achnacarry, for on the wall of the hall hangs his Great Sword or Claidheamh Mor. On one side of the blade is engraved the name – “Allan Camron of Lochell, 1588”; on the other side the legend -“Spero Dum Spiro” (While I breathe, I hope). What better motto for this man of action, who was constantly beset by his greedy and powerful neighbours; he was outlawed; was vilified by the King he strove to serve, yet with his dauntless courage and sound judgement was able to turn his misfortunes to his ultimate gain.
With the death of Allan MacDonald Dubh, the chief and clan seem to pass from the feuding, fierce, outlaws fighting for survival first one rapacious neighbour, then another; tossed hither and thither first by Huntly, then by Argyll, but forever keeping their precarious grip upon the disputed lands, the very core of the Cameron patriarchal inheritance. It was an accomplishment they could be proud of. With the succession of Ewen Dubh (XVII chief), Allan’s grandson, they embarked together on a much nobler era.
Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel (XVII chief)
Sir Ewen Cameron was born in 1629 at Kilchurn Castle, Lochawa, the home of his mother, Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy. His father, John Cameron, whose health had suffered on account of his long imprisonment, died about 1635. His grandfather, Allan, hero of many affrays, was chief of the clan but was too old to bring up his grandson, so Ewen was brought up first by his foster father, Duncan MacMartin of Letterfinlay, and later by his uncle, Donald Cameron of Glendessary.
When Ewen was 12yrs Argyll took a hand in his education. Both as feudal superior and as a relation, he was provided him an excellent education at Inveraray under the charge of a special teacher. These were stirring days in Scotland. It was the eve of the Civil War. Argyll was to lead the army of the Covenant; Montrose the army of the King.
The first impact of the War upon young Ewen was the great Battle of Inverlochy of 1645, when the chief, old Allan Cameron, then nearly 90 years of age, though unable to fight himself, sent 300 Camerons to Montrose’s army, and, some say, warned Montrose of Argyll’s presence at Inverlochy, and arranged for guides to take the army secretly by little known paths to a position from which they could most successfully attack Argyll’s forces.
After the disastrous Battle of Philiphaugh, which resulted in the defeat of Montrose and the collapse of the Royal cause in Scotland, Argyll, accompanied by Ewen, went to St. Andrews to attend a meeting of the Estates called to try and condemn their Royalist prisoners. Ewen contrived to gain access to some of the prisoners without the knowledge of his guardian. These men, awaiting their doom with calm courage, had a profound effect on the young man. The next day, with Argyll, he witnessed the execution of the prisoners with disgust and horror. If the sight was intended to frighten him or to ensure his support for the Covenant, it was signally unsuccessful; from that day he was a Royalist and from that choice he never swerved.
Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiels active life may be conveniently divied into three parts.
(1) The Protectorate During this period 1652-1660, he proved himself a great exponent of guerilla warfare against the occupying English forces.
(2) The Restoration During this period, 160-1689 , he was engaged in fighting legal battles to poreserve the independence of his clan and his estate from the grasp of his feudal superiors.
(3) The Revolution From 1689-1692 he supported Dundee, fought at Killiecrankie, but eventually had to submit to the overwhelming strength of the government.
After a stand-off at the Fords of Arkaig near Achnacarry on 20 September 1665, Lochiel entered in an agreement with Macintosh that ended the 360-year feud. It was said that no Cameron had ever shaken a Macintosh by the hand till that day. (1. See Appendix No. 25).
From that point, Ewen Cameron was responsible for keeping the peace between his clansmen and their former enemies. However whilst he was away in London in 1668, a feud broke out between Clan Donald and hostile elements of Clan Mackintosh, who headed the confederation of clans known as Clan Chattan. Being absent he was unable to constrain some of his clansmen and they made a small contribution to the MacDonald victory over the Mackintoshes at the Battle of Maol Ruadh (Mulroy).
In another dispute, Lochiel was on his way to talk to the Duke of Atholl about a border between Lochaber and Perthshire when he met Gormshuil Mhor na Maighe. She was married to a Cameron and was known for her supernatural powers. At first he ignored Gormshuil but she told him to return home to get his men. He should take them with him and keep them hidden and if he needed them he was to turn his coat inside out. Lochiel took her advice and although Atholl too had men lying in wait, he was able to defeat them. This dispute between Lochiel and Atholl led to the Cameron clan’s motto ‘Sons of the hounds, come here and get flesh.’ It’s also said that this came from the tune Lochiel’s piper was playing at the time, ‘Thigibh an seo, chlanna nan con, is gheibh sibh feoil, (Come hither, children of the hounds, and you’ll get flesh). (6)
In 1681, Sir Ewen was knighted by Charles II, whom he had fought alongside during the Civil War. After the revolution in 1688 when the House of Stuart was replaced by a foreign dynasty, the Hanoverians, he became one of the principal commanders in the Jacobite rising of 1689 where he fought under John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, at the Battle of Killiecrankie, a victory marred by Claverhouse’s death. After this the Jacobite rebellion soon collapsed because of arguments among the remaining leaders. By this time Sir Ewen Cameron, nearly sixty years old, had started to give his son greater responsibilities. The Lochiel felt he was now too old to participate directly in military action thus designated his son John Cameron to lead his clan in battle, most notably in the second Jacobite rising of 1715 at the Battle of Sheriffmuir.
Lochiel built his new house at Achnacarry. The tradition is that he found his home at Torcastle uncomfortably near the garrison at Inverlochy, so he decided that a residence in a more remote part of his country would be more secure. Buchanan of Auchmar, writing in 1723, describes the house thus, “Lochiel’s principal residence is in Achnacarry in Lochaber, where he hath a large house, all built of Fir-planks, the handsomest of that kind in Britain.”
Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, or Eoghain Dubh, as the Highlanders called him, has come down as one of the greatest Highland chiefs of all time. As a chief he was loved, trusted and admired by his clansmen, who would follow him into any exploit whatever the odds or danger. In peacetime he worked unceasingly for the independence of his clan, and for the improvement of the conditions under which they lived. As a soldier he was quite fearless for his own safety. He was an outstanding planer of guerrilla operations and leader in battle. He understood the temperament of the men under his command, and he knew how to get the best out of them. His experience made him a wise counsellor to those who he served. Sir Ewen died after the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 in his 90th year. His son John Cameron, Lord of Lochiel succeeded him.
John Cameron of Lochiel (XVIII chief
John Cameron of Lochiel (XVIII chief), the eldest son of Sir Ewen, was born about 1663. His first “appearance” on the historical scene was as leader of the clan after the Battle of Killiecrankie, after his father had returned to Lochaber. After Sir Ewen made his submission in 1692 he took little part in the affairs of the country, and four years later he made over the greater part of his estate to his son John. In 1706 John Cameron, appreciating the dangers he was likely to incur as a known Jacobite sympathizer, deemed it advisable to make over his estate to his young son Donald. This was a wise precaution for when later he was attained for his participation in the 1715 rising, the estate could not be forfeited for it no longer legally belonged to him.
The part played by the Camerons in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion was not noteworthy. John Cameron of Lochiel had great difficulty in raising the clan. John Cameron did march, with a part of the clan, to join an unsuccessful expedition to harry the Campbell country round Inveraray under General Gordon of Auchintoul but nothing was achieved, and the General’s small force joined the main army mustering at Auchterarder prior to the Battle of Sheriffmuir.
John Cameron was branded an outlaw and had to flee to France. In 1717 King James showed his appreciation of John Cameron’s services by creating a peer with the title of Lord Lochyel. The title does not appear to have caught on, or have been in common use. The old saying “The King can mak’ a Duke, but he canna mak’ Lochiel” would seem to be appropriate.
John Cameron of Lochiel, though numbered XXVIII, was chief only in exile, fior Sir Ewen only died in 1719 after his grandson Donald owned the estate and was de facto chief. He did not inherit his father’s flair for military leadership, but he was father of at least three of the most gallant figures of the 1745 rising.
1 Donald, better known as the Gentle Lochiel.
2 John of Fassifern, ancestor of the Camerons of Fassifern
3. Doctor Archibald. Executed in 1752 for his part in the rising.
Donald Cameron of Lochiel (XIX chief)
Donald Cameron of Lochiel (XIX chief), younger of Lochiel, “Young Lochiel” as he was often called to differentiate between him and his father who was in exile, was a young man of 21 when in 1716 he succeeded to the management of his estates and the leadership of his clan. He was an enlightened chief whose main interest was in the improvement of his estates, the improvement of the lot of his clansmen, and the stamping out of the universal practice of lifting cattle from neighbouring clans, and further afield.
As an example of the forward-looking policy of the chiefs in Lochaber, Lochiel, Glengarry, and Keppoch entered into an agreement in 1744 for the prevention of crime and stealing in Lochaber. Deputies were nominated to act as justices in the various districts and those appointed for the Cameron country among others were:
- John Cameron of Fassifern for the land of LochieL
- Dr. Archibald Cameron for Locharfaig, Glenloy, and Stralochy
- John Cameron of Kinlochleven and Donald Cameron of Clunes for Dochinassie
- Torcastle for Ardgour
Lochiel set about improving the amenities of his own house and policies at Achnacarry by planting trees, forming avenues and laying out a beautiful garden. He attempted to introduce better methods of cultivation of the scanty arable land held by his tenants and cottars. He especially discouraged the lifting of cattle and other stock. Had the events of the 1745 rising not intervened as has been well recorded it would be interesting to see how far he would have succeeded in all these endeavours.
With the arrival of Prince (Charles Edward Stuart – “Bonnie Prince Charlie”) on the Scottish mainland at Loch nan Uamh in Arisaig, accompanied by a handful of supporter in 25th of July, 1745 events unfolded concluding in the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746, resulting in Lochiel, on 18th September, ultimately leaving Cameron country for ever. Ultimately making his was to France where the Prince obtained for Lochiel the command of the French regiment ‘Le Regiment d’Albanie’, as some compensation for his ruin. Lochiel died at Nieuport in 1747. Later that year the King wrote to Prince Charles regarding the Jacobite peerage which would now be conferrable upon Donald Lochiel.
Ardvorlich writes that it cannot be overstressed that although Lochiel and the chief men of his clan, the heads of the cadet branches , and tacksman were Jacobite at heart, none were anxious to embark on an adventure that seemed, quite correctly, to have such little hope of success. (1)
The Prince and his victorious army returned to Edinburgh after the Battle of Prestonpans, rested, and received reinforcements, then on 1st November set out on the ill-fated march into England. About 650 Camerons formed part of the Highland army, and remained with the Prince throughout the long march to Derby, and the subsequent retreat, taking part in all the skirmishes and battles, except that of Clifton.
John Cameron (XX chief)
Donald Cameron was succeeded by his eldest son John (XX chief), who was a boy of 16 at that time. In 1759 John Cameron returned to Scotland. His estates were still forfeited, but he was able to live in his native land because he had not been involved in the Rising. He died unmarried in Edinburgh in 1762. His next brother James, a captain in the Royal Regiment of Scots, having died in 1759, he was succeeded by his youngest brother Charles.
Charles Cameron (XXI chief)
Charles Cameron (XXI chief) was gazetted ensign in the 30th Regiment of Foot in 1765, when the regiment was stationed at Gibraltar. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1771, and transferred to the 71st or Fraser Highlanders when that regiment was raised in 1775. He recruited and commanded a company of 120 men drawn from his own clan. He had obtained a lease of the Glendessary portion of the Annexed Estate of Lochiel on easy terms from the Government, so that he evidently knew and was known in Lochaber. When in the following year the 71st was ordered to proceed to America, Lochiel, who did not enjoy good health, was ill in London. There he heard that his company refused to embark without him, so he insisted on travelling to Glasgow, the port of embarkation. When he arrived there he received a great welcome… Lochiel died a few weeks later, in 1776.
Donald Cameron (XXII chief)
When Donald Cameron (XXII chief, son of Charles Cameron) of Lochiel succeeded to the chiefship in 1776, the social upheaval which was to revolutionize life in the Highlands was imminent. He succeeded at the age of 7, and eight years later the Lochiel estate, which as we have seen, had been annexed to the Crown, was returned to him, subject to a fine. In 1799, at the time of the threatened Napoleonic invasion, Lochiel was appointed Colonel of a regiment of Fencibles to be raised in the North of Scotland, and to be called “The Lochaber Fencible Highlanders.” Most of the men came from Lochaber, with many of the officers and men being of his own clan. Having been quartered in Ireland for two years they were disbanded in 1802, the danger of invasion having passed. Having no suitable residence at Achnacarry, Lochiel decided to build a new house which he started in 1802. Lochiel died at Toulouse in France in 1832.
Donald Cameron (XXIII chief)
Donald Cameron (XXIII chief, eldest son of Donald Cameron) of Lochiel was born in 1796. He was educated at Harrow, the first of a succession of Lochiels to be educated there. In 1814 he was gazetted to the Grenadier Guards, and fought with his regiment at the Battle of Waterloo. He retired from the army on the death of his father and his succession to the estate in 1832. Donald Cameron succeeded at a time when the whole economy of the estate had been drastically altered. As we have seen the small tenants and cottars had been replaced by large sheep farmers employing a small number of shepherds. From being a peasant economy it had changed to a pastoral economy. In 1837, Lochiel, who had no residence on his estate, arranged to have the new Achnacarry, started in 1802 by his father, completed, and thereafter he lived there in the summer months. Lochiel died in England in 1858, and was buried at his wife’s home at Hampden, Buckinghamshire.
Donald Cameron (XXIV chief)
Donald Cameron (XXIV chief, eldest son of Donald Cameron) of Lochiel was born in 1835 and educated at Harrow. As a young man he entered the Diplomatic Service, and was appointed 1st attache in Lord Elgin’s mission to China in 1857, and afterwards to the embassy at Berlin. He succeeded to the chiefship on his father’s death in 1858, and after a few years retired from the foreign office service and went to live at Achnacarry to manage his vast estates. In 1868 he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Inverness-shire, a seat he held for the next seventeen years. This Lochiel was the first chief to make Achnacarry his permanent home since that day in September 1746 when “The Gentle Lochiel” took his last look at the burnt out ruins of old Achnacarry; over 100 years before.
Lochiel had become one of the biggest sheep farmers in the North. Many of his shepherds and stalkers were Camerons; practically all the crofters were descendants of the old clansmen removed from the glens to make way for sheep farming during the period 1800 to 1850. But the bulk of the clan were scattered throughout the world; in Canada, Australia, America, and New Zealand, and in every part of Scotland and England. It was in 1889 that a small body of enthusiastic Camerons, inspired by their inborn pride in their race and its romantic history, decided to form a Clan Cameron Association. Naturally Lochiel was its chief. Lochiel was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire in 1887, a post he held until his death in 1905.
Donald Walter Cameron (XXV chief)
Donald Walter Cameron (XXV chief, eldest son of Donald Cameron) of Lochiel was born in 1876. Like his father and grandfather he was educated at Harrow, and in 1898 was gazetted to his grandfather’s regiment, the Grenadier Guards. He saw service in the South African War being severely wounded at the Battle of Belmont in 1902. He succeeded to the chiefship in 1905 on the death of his father. The next year Lochiel married Lady Hermione Emily Graham, youngest daughter of the 5th Duke of Montrose, K.T., and retired from the army and went to live at Achnacarry.
In 1912 Lochiel was appointed to command the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. A few days after the outbreak of the war in 1914 Lord Kitchener
Lochiel was asked by Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener to raise a battalion of infantry. Lochiel agreed, on condition that he would be its commanding officer; this became the 5th (Service) Battalion of the regiment, which saw distinguished service on the western front as part of the 9th (Scottish) Division. Lochiel was invalided home in 1916 but resumed command of the 3rd Battalion in January 1918, when it was in Ireland.
After the War Lochiel returned to his active life in his county of Lochaber. In 1939 Lochiel was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire, but the crowning honour of his career had come to him in 1934, when the King created him a Knight of the Thistle in recognition of his great services to his country and to the Highlands in particular; the first Knighthood to be conferred upon a Lochiel since Sir Ewen Dubh was knighted by James, Duke of York, in 1682. Further recognition of his services came to him in 1948, when the degree of Hon. LL.D. was conferred upon him by Glasgow University. Lochiel died and was buried at Achnacarry in 1951.
Donald Hamish Cameron (XVI chief)
Donald Hamish Cameron (XVI chief, eldest son of Donald Walter Cameron) the present chief, was born in 1910. He was educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford. Realizing that the future of land and farming in the Highlands was by no means secure, and in order to retain the Lochiel estate in the Lochiel family, and as Cameron lands, he saw that he would have to have outside financial resources, so he became a chartered accountant and embarked on a business career. In 1939 he married Margaret, daughter of Colonel the Hon. Nigel Gathorne-Hardy, brother of the Earl of Cranbrook.
Lochiel had been commissioned in the Lovat Scouts in 1929, and on the outbreak of the war in 1939 he joined his regiment on mobilization, and served with it throughout the Italian Campaign, thus worthily carrying on the military traditions of his family. When Lochiel’s father died in 1951, he decided that his place must be at Achnacarry, so he had to throw up his appointment in London. However, his experience and capabilities were such that he was soon in demand to serve on the boards of several companies so that his business training stood him in good stead.
Lochiel is Lord-Lieutenant of Inverness-shire by his appointment in 1971; he thus becomes the third generation of Lochiels to represent their Sovereign in the county. He is Colonel of the 4/5 Battalion, the Cameron Highlanders T.A.; a battalion which he commanded from 1954 to 1956. He is county councillor for Kilmallie on Inverness County Council. His business interests constantly take him to London and Edinburgh, but every weekend finds him back at Achnacarry supervising the various projects on his estate, which still extends to over 100,000 acres (in 1971) and ever ready to welcome members of the clan to the land of the Camerons. In November 1973, the Queen created Lochiel a Knight of the Thistle in recognition of his services to his country.
Donald Angus, Younger of Lochiel (eldest son of Donald Hamish Cameron) was born in 1946. In 1974 he married Lady Cecil Kerr, 2nd daughter of the 12th Marquess of Lothia. They have one son, Donald Andrew born 1976, and three daughters; Catherine Mary born 1975, Lucy Margot born 1980, and Emily Francis born 1986.
Donald Cameron (the Younger) was educated at harrow School and graduated with a first-class honours degree in modern history from Oriel College, Oxford and a Diploma in Law from City University, London. He worked as an advocate for 10 years before his election and acted for a range of clients in public, agricultural and crofting law.
In 2020, Donald the Younger was appointed Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport by the new Leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
- The Camerons: A History of Clan Cameron, John Stewart of Ardvorlich (1974)
- The Life of Dr Archibald Cameron (1753)
- Drummond’s Memoirs of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel (1733)
- Bygone Lochaber Somerled MacMillan (1971)
- The History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland Donald Gregory