Clan Donnachaidh Society

The society was formed in 1893 by those clansfolk bearing the name Robertson, Reid, Duncan, Stark, etc., some 43 septs in all who thought it worthwhile to combine, to establish and maintain the spirit of the old Clan system. In addition, the Society is involved in the preservation of Clan relics and Clan history, in mutual aid between clansfolk, and in assistance, generally by means of benevolent funds.

The word Clan comes from the Gaelic clann, meaning children for family and Donnachaidh means Duncan. The first Chief of the Clan was Duncan of Atholl, who commanded a force of 2,000 volunteer militia at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The Clach na Brataich, meaning the Stone of the Standard, was carried by Duncan and can be seen in the Clan Museum at Bruar Falls in Perthshire. The name Robertson was taken to honor the fourth Chief, Robert, who captured the murderers of King James in 1437, and, in consequence, endowed all future clansfolk with a Crest portraying a hand supporting an Imperial Crown. With the exception of Royalty, no one else in Europe is permitted to display an Imperial Crown as a crest.

The Clan was fervently Jacobite and our 13th Chief, Alexander of Strowan (1668-1749) was the only Scottish Clan Chief to ‘rise’ for the Stuart cause in 1689 under Bonnie Dundee, in 1715 under the Old Pretender, and, of course, under Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. At 77 years of age, he watched his Clansmen, commanded by Lt. Col. Donald Robertson of Woodsheal, charge successfully at the battle of Prestonpans (1745). Alexander was then carried home to Loch Rannoch in the gown and the carriage of John Cope, the defeated English General. The Clan then merged with the Atholl Brigade under Lt. General George Murray and took part in the last battle fought on British soil where many of our Clansmen gave their lives on the grim battlefield of Culloden Moor (April 1746).

No Clan Donnachaidh laird ever evicted a tenant as part of the Highland Clearances during the 19th Century. Quite the reverse, for the 18th Chief, George Duncan Robertson of Struan, broke the entail on his estate and sold Dunalastair, the family seat, and dispersed part of the proceeds to his needy Clansfolk. Loyalty and service have always been Clan attributes and the Black Watch, the Perthshire Regiment, abounds with Clansmen who have rendered faithful service to the Monarch. It is a fact that more members of Clan Donnachaidh have won the Victoria Cross than any other Clan or group of people sharing similar surnames. In the First World War, the only enlisted private ever to reach the rank of Field Marshall in the British Army was, of course, one William Robertson.

World wide, there are 11 million members of the Clan Donnachaid. In 1969, the Clan House and Museum was opened at Bruar Falls, Blair Atholl in Perthshire, at a cost then of 25,000 Pounds. Schomberg Scott designed the buildings. Outside flies the Standard off our Chief, 12 feet long, depiction the Wolves’ Heads from the 12th Century, the Clan plant badge, the bracken, the motto Virtutis Gloria Merces (Glory is the Reward of Valor) and the slogan Garg’n uair Dhuisgear (Fierce when roused).

In modern administration, the Society is second to no other and has branch organizations in Atholl, Edinburgh, Galscow, London, America, and New Zealand. In quantity of surnames, the name Robertson is the fourth most common in Scotland and when added to the septs, such as Reid and Duncan, forms one of the largest Clans in Scotland. It s almost inevitable then that the Clan Donnachaidh society has the largest Clan organization in Europe.