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MacGregor Basics
In Scottish Gaelic, the language of our ancestors, "Mac" means "Son of." Thus, as members of Clan Gregor we are MacGregors - the Sons of Gregor. Variants of the name include McGregor, which is simply an anglicized version of the name. Throughout our history you'll find many variations in spelling and some pretty drastic name changes. While some of these variations and name changes stem from historical necessity, others exist simply because in the past spelling wasn't as unified or important as it is now.

Our clans history is one of the more exciting and stirring of all Scottish clans, but before we get into that we ought to get some of the basics out in the open.


MacGregor Coat
of Arms
Coat of Arms

To start off, our clan stems from nobility! You've probably seen our the MacGregor coat of arms, but in case you haven't there is a picture of it on the right. Now you might be thinking "COOL! I AM GOING TO PASTE THIS ON EVERYTHING I OWN!", but before you do maybe we should talk a bit about the laws regarding coats of arms. Under current Scottish law you have zero right to use that coat of arms. Yup, you heard me, zero. The coat of arms, by traditional and current Scottish law, is heritable property. Thus, only one person at a time has a legal claim to it.

On a side note, I found this rather interesting. According to James Dempster, "if you use the arms of someone else then you are usurping arms, if you make up your own arms, then you are using bogus arms. In both cases you are committing an offence and may be charged and tried at Lyon Court, which is an active court of law. This makes Scottish heraldry one of the most tightly controlled in the world, as it is one of the few countries where heraldry is protected by law, and that law is still actively enforced." The point? Don't go to jail! Jail is bad.

If you want to read more about the laws regarding Scottish Coats of Arms you can check out Heraldry in Scotland, a webpage by James Dempster FSA Scot. The website is really interesting to anyone wanting to know more about how Scottish heraldry works, and even has information about things like the Court of the Lord Lyon where you might be able to get your own Coat of Arms made. Granted there are some strict rules and some sizeable fees for doing so, but hey, it's just money, right?

Clan Crest/Pin


MacGregor Crest
Now don't get all depressed and feel let down as there is a way for you to show your Scottish pride and display your clan affiliation to the world. What you need is our clan crest, which is the way Scotsmen and women show their affiliation with a clan (down and left). The crest is a part of the full coat of arms which members of a clan are allowed to wear in several fashions. While you have legal rights to wear the crest, you don't own it. It also belongs to the clan chief. All in all, wear it proudly! Don't forget, we have noble blood in our veins!

Clan Shield

The last item of heraldry we ought to mention is our clan shield. All rules for other items in our heraldry apply here, so I'll just show you a picture of the shield to let you see what it looks like and get down to business.

MacGregor Shield
You'll notice there is a whole lot of symbolism in there, you may want to do some research and find out what some of those symbols stand for. One thing I will tell you about, though, is the writing you see at the top - "'S Rioghail Mo Dhream".

Clan Motto

'S Rioghail Mo Dhream (Our Race is Royal). I've seen this motto translated a bunch of ways from "royal is our race" to a more literal translation "so royal is our race." I don't speak Scottish Gaelic (yet!) so I'll just have to accept all translations as close enough and remember that the point of it is what matters. The motto references our royal ancestry, in other words, that we are descended from Grig (or Griogair [Gregor]), a 9th century king, and through him, from the ancient kings of Alba (Scotland). Wether or not this is true is still under debate, but if you just take a look at us I'm sure you'll see that it must be true. Oh, and we are by far the most humble of the clans as well! *GRIN*

Though the MacGregor motto is currently "'S Rioghail Mo Dhream" it is not the original clan motto. The older motto is "Een do and spair nocht." It is said to have been given to the MacGregors in the twelth century by the king of Scotland. Apparently the stories say that the king was hunting and was attacked by a wild boar when Sir Malcolm MacGregor, of Glenorchy, asked permission to help. "Een do," said the king, "and spair nocht." Malcolm used an oak sapling to despatch the boar. For this defence the king gave Sir Malcolm permission to use the motto, and, in place of a Scotch fir, to adopt for a crest an oak-tree. The later motto didn't come into use until 1801 when Sir John Murray MacGregor obtained permission to change the motto to "'S rioghal mo dhream."

Clan Plant Badge

The Pine/Scots Fir. You may think the Scots Pine isn't very exciting, but lemme load you up with all sorts of info on it.

Pinus sylvestris ‘Pumila’
Pinaceae - Pine Family

Dwarf Scots Pine
Scotch Fir

Identification: This aromatic tree is characterized by its orange-red bark on the upper part of the trunk which is often deeply fissured and flaky. Its needles are blue-green in colour and are borne in pairs1.5-3in long. The yellow-brown male flowers are found in dense clusters at the base of the young shoots, while the small female cones are green at first, later turning brown.

Habitat: Native to Eurasia, Scots Pine grows best in temperate and northern climates extending all across northern Europe into the temperate zone of Asia. It was introduced to North America and is now naturalized from southern Ontario to New Jersey, and west to Ohio and Iowa. Scots Pine thrives on bare mineral soils or sand, even when poor in nutrients. It is also tolerant to extremes in temperature and rain conditions.

Uses: The Scots Pine, a strong softwood, is of great value in the building industry. It was especially valued for its durability in wet conditions. Roadways were built with this tree on wet roads in the Russian arctic and they were also hollowed out to make water pipes. Rope was made from the fibres of the inner bark and tar derived from the roots. The tree can be tapped for its resin in the manufacturing of turpentine. It is of great value in reforestation efforts and erosion control these days because of the tree’s ability to withstand extremes in temperature, rain, and soil conditions. Medicinally the Scots Pine, like all other Pines, has many healing properties. The steam from boiling the fresh pine shoots relieve bronchial congestion. Pine tar and pitch were traditionally taken in the 19th century as a diuretic, for chronic bronchitis and to induce persperation to break a fever. Externally, an ointment of the tar and pitch were applied for chronic skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, and open sores. Even today pine oil is added as a disinfectant in commercial products. Pine essence in baths works to combat fatigue, sleeplessness, skin irritations and cuts. As a food, the Scots Pine’s inner bark was ground into a flour. Scandinavian peasants made use of this flour to make bread, and to mix with oats when making thin cakes. The seeds are also reported to have been a source of food as well. In North America we are most familiar with the Scots Pine for being our Christmas trees, but it has a history of spiritual and inspirational significance in Scotland where, dating back to pre-Christian Celtic and Pictish cultures, this Pine was apart of the clan totems of the Grant and MacGregor families.

Clan War Cry/Slogan

Ard Choille (The woody height - a place in Glen Dochart). At the bottom of our shield is our clan war cry. Be sure to use it as often as you can even if you aren't charging into battle.

Clan Tartans
There are quite a number of different tartans from the MacGregor history. Below are a number of them. I'm not sure about most of the details as I have harvested these from various sources.

(Courtesy of the Tartans of Scotland)

MacGregor Modern
MacGregor Modern

MacGregor Ancient
MacGregor Ancient

MacGregor
MacGregor

A sample of this tartan can be seen in the Cockburn Collection (1810-20) in the Mitchell library in Glasgow. MacGregor is one of the patterns labeled in 1815 in General Cockburn's handwriting. The same pattern is recorded by Wilson in the Key pattern book, dating 1819, under the name 'MacGregor Murray Tartan'. Logan (1831) calls it simply 'MacGregor'.
There is also a certified MacGregor tartan (for undress) called Rob Roy, a simple red and black check.
Source: Cockburn Collection
MacGregor of Balquhidder
MacGregor of Balquhidder

This sett is shown in the earliest publication of clan tartans. James Logan collected material for, The Scottish Gael, around 1826 and published in 1831. A number of minor anomilies in Logan's method of recording tartans has led to errors appearing in some versions of the sett.
Source: Logan
MacGregor
MacGregor

Two times count given on squared paper drawing.
Source: Sketches of the Clans of Scotland
MacGregor of Balquhidder
MacGregor of Balquhidder

The design comes from the Vestiarium Scoticum (1842). The authors, the Sobieski Stuart brothers, enjoyed a popular following among the Scottish gentry in the early Victorian era and, in the spirit of the times, added mystery, romance, and some spurious historical documentation to the subject of tartan. Of the better known tartans, the book offers some minor variations, but in other cases it provides the only recorded version of many tartans in use today.
Source: Vestiarium Scoticum
MacGregor Blue
MacGregor

Worn on Deeside c. 1750 STS coll No MGH B18/6
Source: MacKinlay
MacGregor Glengyle
MacGregor Glengyle

Source: J. Cant
MacGregor Green
MacGregor Green

MacGregor Glenstrae
MacGregor of Glenstrae

Source: Logan
Rob Roy
Rob Roy

A specimen of the Rob Roy sett exists in the collection of the Highland Society of London bearing the Seal of Arms of Sir John MacGregor Murray of MacGregor, Baronet, and signed John M. Murray. The specimens were collected during the period 1815-16.
Source: Highland Society of London
MacGregor of Glen Straye
MacGregor of Glen Straye

Source: Vestiarium Scoticum
Rob Roy
MacGregor Hunting

MacGregor - A Quick History

The story of the Clan Gregor is perhaps the most stirring and fascinating of all Scottish clans. It is a tale of adventure, greed, bravery, romance and oppression, woven against a background of betrayal and intrigue. The following is a comprehensive, illustrated account and analysis of the Scottish clan society and the inter-clan conflicts that resulted in the loss of all ancient MacGregor territories, homes, possessions, and their family name, but never their dignity. For students of history, this true account of a peoples' suffering and triumphs brings a modern insight to a tragic struggle of a brave and proud people. Against all odds, they fought for their survival against greed, treachery, cruelty, corruption, and an unjust government intent on their utter extinction, that today, would be labelled a deliberate, state sponsored genocide.