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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Carmichaels, from Banffshire to Nova Scotia

The Carmichael clan has been around for a long time, although for one hundred and sixty three years it was dormant. There was no chief to take over the Clan, therefore, there could be no clan. Today, Carmichael is a Clan all on its own, having been registered in the Lyon Court Record book in 1984, when Sir Richard Carmichael assumed the role of Chief. However, it is also considered a Sept of the Clan Douglas. There is also a Clan Carmichael USA, established in 1991 to promote the Clans’ heritage in the States.

As mentioned earlier, the Carmichaels origins have been obscured by the mists of time. They could have been indigenous Britons, or they could have been transplanted Norman nobles, many of whom became the leading families of Scotland, such as Frasers, Gordons, Hamiltons, Stewarts and Bruces. Whatever the origin might be, the residents have been located in Lanark for approximately 800 years. They took their name from the place where they lived Caer Mychel. In 1068, Queen Margaret established seven churches, one near Tinto Hill and dedicated it to the Archangel Michael. Caer Mychel, meaning church hill, soon became the surname of the people who lived near it.

There were splits among the Clan members over the years. But probably the biggest split was when they followed the Stewarts of Appin. This Clan is considered the Clan of the Royal Stewarts, where the Stewarts of Galloway are considered to be distant relatives. The reasons for following another Clan are not known. It could have been for politics, power, wealth, marriages or, perhaps, disagreements within the Carmichael Clan.  Whatever the reason was, my ancestors ended up in Banffshire.

The earliest known ancestor that has been found is James Carmichael (1700-1751) who married Elspeth Harper (1696-1751).  James’ parents are unknown and how this branch of the Carmichael Clan was associated with the main branch in Lanark is also unknown. James and Elspeth had 5 children, the oldest being William (1717-1780). The others were: Patrick, Peter, Margaret and John. William m. (1749) in Mortlach, Banffshire, Isobel Thompson (1730-1771). William’s sibling, Patrick (1719-?), m. (1752) Mary Stronach (?-?), but the spouses of the others remain unknown.

William and Isobel had 8 children and possibly a 9th, which is unverified. One of his older sons, James (1755-1836), was b. in Aberlour but had moved to Fisher’s Grant, Pictou Landing, Nova Scotia by 1788 when his son was born. James’ brother, Francis, about 9 years younger, married and had two children in Scotland, but moved to Pictou Landing, NS by 1799 when his third child was born. Francis (1764-1838) m. (1794) Elizabeth Keillor (bef. 1778-1838) in Aberlour, Banffshire. There is a land grant for Francis, dated 1792, so it seems likely that he may have made several trips to and from NS.

                                                      The Carmichael Tartan

James (1755-1836) m. Anne Unknown. They had:

   James B. (1788-1860) m. 1812 Christian McKenzie.  They had:

      James W. (1819-1903) m.1851 Maria Ann McColl (?-1874)
      John Robert (?-?)

The James Carmichael family became prominent in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. The original James was considered one of the founders of the town. They became a well-known and successful ship building family.

                                                       James Carmichael 1819-1903

Francis (James’ younger brother) and Elizabeth Keillor had 9 children:

*Thompson (1796-1861), b. in Banff, d. in Bridgewater, NS, m. 1826 (in Lunenburg NS) Barbara Hubley (1806-1881) – 15 children
Mary (1791-1874) m. Unknown McCabe
David 91799-?)
Robert (1800-?)
Isobel (1801-1864) m. c 18243 Robert Murray (1792-1884) – 8 children
James (1803-?)
Elizabeth (1804-1877) m. 1829 William Mahy (1801-1873) – 1 child
John (1806-?)
Isaac (1808-1887) m. 1831 Jane Hamilton (1818-?) – 9 children

L. Anders Sandberg , “CARMICHAEL, JAMES WILLIAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Universit√© Laval, 2003–, accessed June 17, 2013,

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