Follow by Email

Monday, June 10, 2013

Highland Scot or Lowland Scot?


I have always wondered if there was a line of demarcation to separate the Highland Scot from the Lowland Scot. Not long ago, I came across a map that answered my question and cleared up my misconceptions. My literal interpretation of Highland meant, to me, that those clans lived in the mountainous areas to the north and west of Scotland. Knowing full well that our ancestors moved around with an amazing frequency, my confusion only multiplied as I tried to follow my Scottish ancestors from place to place and then finally to Nova Scotia. The following map shows distinctly where the highland meets the lowland.


The Clan Carmichael has its seat in Lanarkshire, which is situated roughly between Glasgow and Edinburgh and to the south. Here the Carmichaels were known as the Earls of Hyndford. They shared this area and were in close association with the Clan Douglas, from whom they received their lands c. 1374-1384. This location definitely makes them a member of the Lowland Scots.

Lanark was once known as Clydesdale because of the River Clyde and its influence on the area. It is here that Flemish stallions were brought to breed with the local stock mares and the beginnings of a bigger and stronger breed of draft horse had its beginnings. But I get carried away. That is another story for another time.

The Carmichaels are said to have been in Lanark since the 13th century or earlier. It is noted that there were at least two branches of Carmichaels, one was Carmichael of Carmichael and the other was Carmichael of East End and Thankerton.  It is believed there was a separation from the senior line around 1500, when the new branch took up residence at East End. In the 17th century, during the civil wars, Lord Carmichael supported King Charles I, but his family had split loyalties. Two of his sons were Royalists and another two supported the parliamentarians. Sadly, the two sides fought at the Battle of Marston Moor where one of the Royalist Carmichael sons was killed, another John Carmichael, fighting against his older brothers. Clan Chief Richard Carmichael was able to exchange some lands in 1989, adding the East End lands to the Carmichael estate.

                                                                 East End House

My first Carmichael doesn’t come from either of these places but much farther north in Abelour, Banffshire, on the Moray Firth. But before I tackle my direct ancestors, I think it would be interesting to know more about the Clan in it’s earlier years. Sir John de Carmichael received the charter of lands in Lanarkshire from Sir James Douglas, in the late 14th century, as a reward for supporting the Douglas claim to the Scottish throne. This also established him as the 1st Baron of Carmichael. Through other royal charters and acquisitions, the estate grew to about 14,000 acres, at their peak.

One of the Clan’s most notable figures is Sir John Carmichael of Meadowflat, who later became the first Clan Chief of Carmichael. In addition to Carmichaels living at East End and Meadowflat, there were other families of the name living at estates in Balmedie, Ponfeigh, Westraw, Skirling and Mauldslie. This Sir John, different from the paragraph above, was the son of the 2nd Baron Carmichael. Sir John was a knight and a warrior in the Scottish Army who fought with the French against the English, during the Hundred Years’ War. In 1421, Sir John engaged in combat with the Duke of Clarence, brother of King Henry V. He unhorsed the Duke, breaking his spear. With the death of the Duke, the English army fled in leaderless disarray. The French granted Sir John the crest, depicting the broken spear grasped by a gauntlet. The motto is Tout Jour Prest (too zhure pray) which means Always Ready. This badge can be worn with pride by all Carmichaels and by those who bear allegiance to the Clan Chief.


 Cadet families which include Meadowflat in Lanarkshire and Balmedie of Fife, also include Carmichaels who became MacMichaels in Galloway. The Carmichaels in Argyll are the only group who allied with the Appin Stewarts.  Katherine, a daughter of a Meadowflat Carmichael was the mistress of King James V, who bore him a son who was the half brother of Mary Queen of Scots.

Several of the following web sites have photos of the East End house and the Carmichael Estates.








1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the map. I also wondered what the difference between the highlands and the lowlands!

    ReplyDelete