Clan Macnab

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Clan Macnab
Clan Macnab Timor Omnis Abesto.jpg
Crest: The head of a savage affrontée Proper
Motto Timor Omnis Abesto (Let fear be far from all)
  • Commonly misspelled as Ommis.
Plant badge Stone bramble or common heath
Macnab of Macnab arms.svg
James William Archibald Macnab of Macnab[1][2]
24th Chief of Clan Macnab.[1][2]
Historic seat MacNab Castle

Clan Macnab is a Highland Scottish clan.


Origins of the clan

Traditional origins

A romanticised Victorian-era illustration of a Clansman by R. R. McIan from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands published in 1845.

The name Macnab is derived from the Scottish Gaelic Mac An Aba, which means child of the abbot.[3] According to tradition the progenitor of the clan was Abraruadh who was the Abbot of Glen Dochart and Strathearn.[3] Abraruadh was allegedly a younger son of Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of Scots.[3] (See: Siol Alpin). Abraruadh was also descended from Fergus, king of Dál Riata and a nephew of Saint Fillan, who was the founder of the monastery in Glen Dochart in the seventh century.[3]

Recorded origins

One of the earliest records of the Macnab family is on a charter of 1124.[3] Malcolm de Glendochart appears in the Ragman Rolls of 1296 and submitted to Edward I of England.[3]

14th century and Robert the Bruce

Angus Macnab was brother-in-law of John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch who was murdered by Robert the Bruce in 1306.[3] Macnab then joined forces with the Clan MacDougall in their campaign against the Bruce when Bruce was nearly captured at the Battle of Dalrigh.[3] When the Bruce's power consolidated after his victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Macnab lands were forfeited and their charters were destroyed.[3]

The fortunes of the Clan Macnab were restored to some extent when Angus's grandson, Gilbert, received a charter from David II of Scotland in 1336.[3] Gilbert was succeeded by his son, Sir Alexander Macnab, who died in about 1407.[3]

16th century and clan conflicts

Many battles were fought between the Clan Macnab and the Clan Neish. The last battle between them was the Battle of Glenboultachan where the Macnabs were victorious.[4] The Neishes were killed almost to a man. However, some Neishes survived and continued to live on what they called Neish Island. The Neishes continued to plunder the neighbourhood and feuds continued.[5]

17th century and civil war

The MacNab burial ground on Inchbuie near Killin on the River Dochart
Maknabbis tartan, as published in 1842 in Vestiarium Scoticum.

Chief Finlay Macnab was a man of peace but protected his lands against the foraging royalist forces of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose in the mid-1640s.[3] However Finlay's son, who was known as Smooth John, did not follow his father's peaceful ways and actually joined forces with Montrose, contributing to the royal victory at the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645.[3] Smooth John Macnab was appointed to garrison Montrose's own Kincardine Castle.[3] General David Leslie, Lord Newark subsequently laid siege to the castle.[3] The castle's whole garrison however, managed break through the Covenanter lines and fought their way clear, but John Macnab was captured.[3] He was taken to Edinburgh and sentenced to death but escaped on the eve of his execution.[3] He went on to lead three hundred of his clansmen at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.[3]

18th century and Jacobite risings

Robert Macnab, the fourteenth chief of Clan Macnab married a sister of John Campbell, 1st Earl of Breadalbane and Holland. This connection to the Clan Campbell constrained him from supporting the Jacobites in the rising of 1715, although many of his clansmen did take part.[3] The fifteenth chief was a major in the Hanoverian government army and was captured at the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745. He was then held prisoner in Doune Castle.[3]

Clan Chief

The current chief is the 24th, James William Archibald Macnab of Macnab who succeeded his father, James Charles Macnab of Macnab, in 2013.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b Casely, Gordon (30 January 2013). "James Macnab of Macnab". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b Steven, Alasdair (2 April 2013). "Obituary: James Macnab of Macnab, Chief who did much to revive Clan Macnab's fortunes worldwide - Obituaries -" (News). Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 248 - 249.
  4. ^ McNab, John (1907). The Clan MacNab; a short sketch. Edinburgh: The Clan Macnab Association. pp. 7–8. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Battle of Glen Boultachan". Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  6. ^ Rhodes, Michael. "Peerage News: James Charles MacNab of MacNab 1926-2013". Retrieved 17 January 2013.

External links

  • "The Macnab Website". The official website of Clan Macnab in Scotland. Macnab Memorial Trust. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
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