The Clan Chattan/Gillacatan
Written by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.


Left=The Chattan Plaid - Middle = The Clan Chattan Badge - Right=The Clan Chattan Crest
The War Cry was Clan Chattan
The Plant Badge is the Red Whortleberry

"Clan Chattan is the second greatest Celtic community, after the Donalds, in the life and history of the highlands" (Black, Lorna. Clans and Tartans: The Fabric of Scotland. New York: Gallery Books, 1987). Clan Chattan or the Clan of the Cats was a very old confederation of clans. It is an ancient example of small clans finding strength through unity. to avoid being overwhelmed by more powerful neighbors, such as the MacDonalds of the Isles. The group was originally composed of the MacIntoshes, Davidsons, MacPhersons, MacGillivrays, and McBeans. This group was then strengthened by the addition of the Farquharsons and other clans.


    B. The MacIntoshes and Their Cadet Branches:

    The MacIntoshes trace their origins to Shaw, son of Duncan, the Earl of Fife in the twelfth century. Shaw was made Constable of Inverness Castle. The MacIntoshes were Chiefs and Captains of the Clan Chattan from 1291-1938.

    The MacIntoshes supported the Stuarts. The original MacIntosh Castle lies in ruins on an island in Loch Moy. The present seat of the McIntosh Chief is Moy Hall, near Inverness. The MacIntosh also claim claim descent from the royal house of Duff. Their name comes from the Gaelic Mac an toisich. In Old Gaelic, toisech meaning "chief, leader, or front man."

  • Shaws: take their name from the Gaelic sithech meaning "wolf." The Shaws were granted land in Rothiemurchus. The Highland Shaws of Aberdeenshire are NOT connected to the Lowland Shaws.

  • Farquharsons of Invercauld: from the Gaelic name Fearchar meaning "very dear one." The Farquharsons are descended from Farquhar MacIntosh, the grandson of the Laird of McIntosh, who came from Braemar before 1382.

  • Ritchies: diminitive of Richard. A Border surname. Duncan Rithie was a messenger in Perth, in 1505. Alexander Richie was an Ediburgh artist in the nineteenth century.

  • McCombies: McCombies comes from the Gaelic Mac Comaidh, a contracted form of Mac Thomaidh or "son of Tommy." In Perthshire, the name is anglized to Thomson.

  • MacThomases of Finegand: Son of Tomas, from the Gaelic Mac Tomais. The MacThomas are descendants of the MacIntoshes.

    C. Families not originally related by blood.

  • MacGillivrups/MacGillivray of Dunmaglass: from the Gaelic Mac Gille-bhrath, meaning "son of the servant of judgment," or Mac Ghillie-Breac meaing "sons of the freckled faced one." The MacGillivrays were an old Argyllshire clan or sept, but they do not appear in the 1467 manuscripts. They were associated with the MacCleans in Hull (their original home). MacGillivray survived the battle of Culloden. Nell MacGillivray of Dunmaghlas eventually became clan chief.

  • Davidsons (Dow is associated with the Davidsons). Davidsons means "son of David." Johannes fulius Davidis was burgess of Perth in 1219. The Davidsons are also called Clann Daidh.

  • MacCleans of Dochgarroch:

  • Gows

  • MacQueens of Pollochaig: McQueen is an anglicized from of MacSuibne. meaning "son of Suibhne." The Clan Chattan MacQueens came from Moidart about 1410.

  • Clarks

  • MacIntyres of Bedenoch
  • MacAndrew: "son of Andrew." MacAndrew is the highland form of Anderson. MacAndrews comes from the Gaelic "Mac Aindreis." The sept from Clan Chattan was settled at Connage in Petty, Scotland.

    D. Families in the eighteenth century.

  • Shaws: later became Shiach in Perth in the 17th and 18th centuries. Shiachs are found in Aberdeenshire today.

  • MacBeans:

  • MacPhails:

  • MacGillways:

Gillechattan Mor was thought to be their first chief, of the Chattan Clan, and from him descended Eva, daughter of Gilpatric or Dougal Dall in Lochabee. Eva was the only child of Dougall Dall, the clan's 6th chief. Eva married in 1291 to Angus, the 6th Laird of Mackintoch, who then became the leader of the clan. After his marriage to Eva, Angus lived at Torcastle in Glenloy.

The fourth chief had four sons, and legend says that they became: (1)Gillichattan Patrick, the fifth chief. (2)Neil Crom, progenitor of the name Smith (3) Farquhard Gilliriach, ancestor of the clan MacGillivay(4) Ewan Basn, ancestor of the MacPherson Clan,

A feud broke out regarding who should then have the chieftainship. The Clan MacPherson claimed they should be the chief, since they were descended from Muireach, the Parson of Kinguissie (1173), who was also a chief of the Clan Chattan. Muireach's eldest son was Gillechattan Patrick, Eva's grandfather. Gillechattan's second son, Ewan Ban, was the progenitor of the Clan Mcpherson. However, the chiefship was a heriditary honor bestowed on Eva by her father. For 200 years the Macpherons and the Macintoshes feuded over this issue. Cluny Macpherson (in 1672) was laird of Cluny and thought he should represent the Chattan clan. Macintosh, of course protested and the arms given to Cluny were withdrawn. He was given a new arms as a cadet of the Clan Chattan.

The 28th cheif of the MacIntoshes died in 1938, without male issue. He nominated his successor as Chief of the Clan MacIntosh, not Clan Chattan. His death divided the clan, and in 1947, Duncan Alexander Eliott Mackintosh, was granted the Clan Chattan arms by Lord Lyon, he was a part of the Daviot, Invernes-shire branch of the Mackintoshes. Malcolm Kenneth Mackintoch, a modern chief, lives in Zimbabwe.

The clan gets its name from Gillechattan Mor, meaning the great servant of StCatan, whose abbey was at Kilchattan on the isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde.

Members of the MacKintosh group include: Farquharson, MacBean, MacGillivray, MacGlashan, MacHardie, MacQueen, Noble, MacTavish, and Shaw. On the McPherson side are Davidson, Gillespie, Keith and Smith. Others are Cattanach. Clark, and MacPhail.


For More Information About Clan Chattan:

Randall Glenn, Membership Chair.
Clan Chattan
2302 Monte Verde Dr.
Modesto, CA. 95350

Address of Clan Chattan Chief:

Malcolm K. Macintosh of Clan Chattan
Maxwell Park
Gwelo, Zimbabwe


Black, Lorna. The Fabric of Scotland New York: Gallery Books, 1987.

MacKinnnon, Charles. Scottish Highlanders. New York: Barnes & Noble Nooks, 1984.

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