Our History

As stated by the eminent historian, William F. Skene in 1837, “The Robertsons of Struan are unquestionably the oldest family in Scotland, being the sole remaining branch of that Royal House of Atholl which occupied the throne of Scotland during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Clan Donnachaidh meaning “The children of Duncan,” emerged from the union of the Scottish and Pictish kingdoms. The name comes from the Gaelic word “clann” meaning child and “Donnachaidh” the Gaelic spelling of the name Duncan. Our ancestors were know to the Romans as the Kaledonioi, or Caledonia, one of eleven tribes in the northern Pictish nation. They inhabited the area now known as Atholl in Perthshire. They were the only race in Europe that could not be defeated by Imperial Rome.

The Clan descends from King Malcolm II, who reigned from 1005 to 1034. He was the last king in the direct male line to descend from Kenneth MacAlpine, who united the Scots and the Picts in 843 A.D. and is considered to be the founder of Scotland. After Malcolm’s murder, his grandson became King Duncan II, who in turn was murdered by MacBeth (of Shakespearean fame). Duncan’s son, Malcolm, went on to kill MacBeth and became King Malcolm III Ceann Mor (Canmore.) During his 37 year reign the first events now known as Highland Games were held to choose the best available men to serve as his soldiers.

The first Chief of the Clan was Duncan or Donnachaidh Reamhair, or Duncan the Stout (stout in battle rather than in belly), a famous fighter and strong supporter of Robert the Bruce. He commanded a force of 2,000 at the famous Battle of Bannockburn, June, 24, 1314, along-side the Bruce, against the army of Edward II.

Origin of Our crest and the name ‘Robertson’

The Robertson crest badge of a dexter hand holding an imperial crown was awarded by King James II to honor our fourth Chief Robert Ruabh Duncanson (the Grizzled) on August 15, 1451 as a reward for capturing the assassins of King James I in 1437. It is from this Chief that his descendants and many of his clan folk took the name “Robert’s sons” or Robertson. His lands were erected into the free feudal barony of Struan at this time and he was given the Clan motto “Virtutis Gloria Merces” which means “Glory is the Reward of Valour”. Prior to this Crown charter, the clan lands were held as vassals of the Earls of Atoll. As a result, the Clan Crest portrays a dexter 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 plant badges are the bracken fern and fine leafed heath, which are common in the clan territory on the southern side of Loch Rannoch. The Clan war cry “Garg’n Uair Dhuisgear” is gaelic for “Fierce when Roused”. This war cry relates back to the Chief’s coat of arms of three silver wolf heads on a blood red shield supported by a serpent and a dove. These supporters identify the origin of the clan as being descendants of Saint Columba. In Scots heraldry, the dove or columba signifies descent from this Saint. Crinan’s, the Abbot of Dunkeld, descent from Saint Columba is recognized on the counter-seal of Dunkeld Cathedral, which shows Saint Columba enthroned on two wolves. King Alexander III’s privy seal also contains the serpent and dove supporters with the proverb “be wise as the serpent and gentle as the dove.”

The Clan Donnachaidh Society is formed

The Society was formed in January, 1893 in Scotland to maintain and renew the family bond among a clan now scattered across the globe.

The Southern California Branch

Our branch of the Clan was formed by Finis W. Duncan along with a core group of three Duncans and two Robertsons in 1973. We are an organization dedicated to bringing together the descendants of our noble and ancient family and preserving our Scottish heritage and culture. We host a variety of social activities: The Scotsman’s Ball, Clan Picnic, Christmas Party, and more. We also set up our clan booth at various Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans in the Southern California area.

We love to chat about our clan and all things Scottish so be sure to stop by and visit us at our booth when you attend any of the Highland Games.

The Clan Donnachaidh Society California Branch was incorporated February 14, 1974 on Valentine’s Day and forever known as a “Sweetheart Clan” — Finis and Rosalie Duncan served as First President & First Lady

Play the video below for a nostalgic look back at the wonderful history of Our Southern California Branch!

Published on Sept. 11, 2013  by Edward M. Robertson

The Clan Donnachaidh Society, founded in 1893 in Edinburgh, is one of the oldest
Clans in Scotland. Throughout its history, the Society has had a proud connection
with the Royal Family in the United Kingdom.  To learn more, watch the video below:

Published on Oct.  12, 2013  by Edward M. Robertson