Story of the Clan
Clachnaben (archaically "Cloch-na'bain"; Scottish Gaelic: "Clach na Beinne") , one of the eastern Grampians in Strachan parish, Kincardineshire. It is crowned by a mass of bare granite, from which it is sometimes called the "White Stone Hill." According to an old-world couplet: "There are two landmarks out at sea, Clochnabin and Bennachie."
The Strachan homeland is located some 20 miles southwest of Aberdeen, in the Royal Deeside Grampian Highlands of Scotland.
We are not one family, but a collection of many unrelated families, perhaps hundreds, who hail from the old Strachan District of medieval Scotland. There appears to be strong genetic evidence to support this claim, as the Strachan Clan Y-DNA Project has 18 different participants with 15 different family lines identified (as of June 2008). Although this sample size is too small to definitively state the obvious, it is a good indicator that numerous unrelated families are represented within Clan Strachan itself.
The surname Strachan is a place name. Originally from the Gaelic word "strath" meaning broad valley, and "awen" ('awn' like lawn) for one of the small rivers that run through the valley. Hence the word Strath-awen. Quite simply, everyone who lived in the Strachan District at the time the feudal system came to rise took the surname of Strachan. As the STRACHAN surname is considered a "Local" name, it is merely an indication of where the individual came from, and it cannot be assumed that people with the surname are necessarily related.
According to Dr. George Black, author of "The Surnames of Scotland - Their Origin, Meaning, and History," the surname is first seen in 1153, and is recorded in the form of "Strateyham" at the parish church of Banchory, in Kincardineshire. There are some +53 different spellings of the surname dating back to the 1100's. In fact, the spelling of STRACHAN did not become popular until the 1600's, and invariably took two different pronunciations... the Scottish Gaelic (Scottis) "Strawn", where the 'ch' is silent. The other being based on the Scots language "Straw-kh-an', with a gutteral for the 'ch' like loch or Bach. By the beginning of the 1200's, the Gaelic language began a decline in its status as a national language, losing ground to the Scots language. The growth in prestige of Early Scots in the 1300s, and the complementary decline of French in Scotland, made Scots the prestige language of court for most of eastern Scotland. Like all villages in the area, the present day village of Strachan is pronounced using the Gaelic form 'Strawn'. However, most STRACHANs in Scotland (about 80-90%)utilized the Scots 'Stra-kh-an' pronunciation. There is saying in Scotland that goes, "Strawn in the place, Stra-kh-an is the people." Although not completely true, it may demonstrate that this argument as been around for centuries. To be frank, there is no one single correct way to pronounce the surname STRACHAN, and it is not all too uncommon for two branches of the same family to pronounce the surname STRACHAN differently!
The pre-feudal noble family of Strachan was one of the great Earldoms of ancient Scotland, and is the only known Earldom in all of Scottish history to also be a Regality (Nesbit). As an Earldom and Regality (called a "Palatine"), the Strachan Chief (Walterus Comes Palatinus de Strachan) had a more eminent and royal authority within his territory then any other Earldom in all of Scottish history... past and present. Regalities, and subsequently Palatines, were granted high jurisdictional rights 'in liberam regalitatum' - usually the Four Pleas of the Crown: murder, rape, arson, and robbery. In fact, complete criminal jurisdiction except treason. Truly, Clan Strachan was at one time the highest form of feudal dignity.
However, by the 1100's, the feudal system had taken hold in the highlands, and the Strachan District was transformed into a feudal barony.
In 1308, the barons ‘de Strachan’ were important local nobles until this time, when they backed the Earls of Buchan and Comyn at the Battle of Inverurie, to whom they were related, against Robert the Bruce, by whom they were defeated and disinherited.
Not until King David (Robert the Bruce's son) was capture by the English, did it become politically desirable to reinstate the Strachans, and other disinherited families who had previously supported King John Balliol's claim to the throne of Scotland.
Between 1345 and 1355, virtually all families that benefited from the disinherited Strachans rushed to make restitution.
· Alexander de Strachan was granted the lands of Carmyllie in Forfarshire (1347) by Sir Henry Maule (or Mauld) of Panmure. Also received the lands of Drummayeth, Hackmangerum, Acheyclare, and Moncur.
· ~ 1347, King David II himself granted to Donald de Strachan and his wife Annabel very extensive lands in Forfarshire, and a barony in Aberdeenshire.
· 1348 one Sir James Strachan of Monboddo married Agnete, heiress of the Barony of Thornton, which had been granted to her father Valentine de Thornetoun by Robert I in 1309 as reward for his service.
· Sir John de Strachan was granted the lands of Lenturk in Aberdeenshire (1350 possibly by the Earl of Mar, as his lands were situated quite near to the Earl of Mar's fortress, Kildrummy Castle). In 1359, Sir John became Viscount (Sheriff) of Forfarshire. In official documents of the time, we find him listed as a witness to the installation of John of Mar as Bishop of Aberdeen and, to another charter, as co-witness with William Keith X, the Earl Marshall. In 1380, he granted the lands of Petgervy to his son Galfrid.
· Thomas de Strachan got the lands of Knock in Kincardineshire.
· Adam Strachan was granted lands in Aberdeenshire from William Keith (1350). William Keith had inherited the barony of Strachan through his mother, the daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser and niece of King Robert I. Moreover, in 1355, Thomas, Earl of Mar, gave Margaret Mar, a relative or kinswomen (“consanguinea”), probably his niece, in marriage to Adam.
As a result of Adam Strachan's marriage to Margaret Mar, and the subsequent grant of Glenkindie lands to Adam and his wife, the Strachans are recognized as a family (or sept) of the Tribe of Mar, and are permitted to wear the Mar tartan.
After 1355, five Strachan Houses came to rise... Thornton, Glenkindie, Lenturk, Carmyllie, and Monboddo; with Thornton and Glenkindie being the most senior. Unfortunately, all these Houses would eventually become extinct. The last Chief of Clan Strachan was one Admiral Sir Richard John Strachan (Bart.), RN, who died in 1828. As he was without male heir, his title and the baronetcy became dormant in 1854. To this day, the Strachan surname is recognized by the Court of the Lord Lyon, and the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs as an Armigerous Clan. The recognized current head (or Patron) of Clan Strachan is Major Benjamin Strachan, proprietor of the Mill of Strachan, in Strachan, Kincardineshire.
Today, the Clan Strachan Scottish Heritage Society hopes to carry on the traditions and heritage of Scotland, and the many families that serve it. Founded by Jim Strachan and Dennis Strawhun, the Society hopes to help and assist others located worldwide who have an affinity towards their Scottish heritage and genealogy.