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Clan Duncan

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Title: Clan Duncan  
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Subject: Scottish clans, Clan Donnachaidh, Duncan, Armigerous clans, Kilt
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Clan Duncan

Clan Duncan
Dunchad / Donchadh / Donnachadh
Crest: On waves of the sea a demasted ship.
Motto Disce Pati (Learn to Endure) ca. 1672[1]
Region Perthshire, Tayside, Angus, Fife, Aberdeenshire.
Clan Duncan has no chief, and is an armigerous clan

The personal name Duncan can be found in Scotland’s oldest records in its Gaelic form Dunchad/Donchadh/Donachie/Donnchadh and other spelling variants.


  • Origins 1
  • Castles 2
  • Branches 3
  • Clan Position 4
  • Clan Tartans 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


(Dunchad) Duncan, originally a forename[2] is one of the earliest names in Scotland – surnames being introduced by the Normans around 1120 AD – and originates from the Dalriadan Celtic Celtic Scotii (Scots) from Ireland who colonised the south west of Scotland from about the 4th century AD. Dúnchad (Duncan mac Conaing) co-ruled Dalriada with Conall II (c.650 - 654).[3]

Other early accounts of the name include the 9 feet (2.7 m) inscribed ‘4th century AD Turpillian Stone’ located at Crickhowell, Wales. A particularly early mention of the name Duncan. Inscribed in Ogham (an early form of Celtic writing) on the stone also carried the Latin translation "TURPILLI IC IACIT PUUERI TRILUNI DUNOCATI" which roughly translates as 'The Fort Warrior'.[4] Mention is also made of Dunchad (Duncan) the 11th Abbot of Iona, 707 – 717AD (later St. Dunchadh) and Dunchad (Duncan) the 39th Abbot in 989AD.[5]

Records from this time are scant and it is not until after the unification by Kenneth MacAlpin around 843 AD of the Celtic Scots of Dál Riata (Dalriada) and the aboriginal Picts of northern Britain do we start to see the name significantly being used in other parts of Scotland. One of the earliest references to Dunchad/Donchad, is found in the margins of the 11th century 'Book of Deer the oldest writings in Scots Gaelic known in Scotland today, These manuscript were written by the early Christian Monks of the Abbey of Deer in Aberdeenshire.[6]

When Duncan I took the Scottish throne, Unlike the "King Duncan" of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the historical Duncan appears to have been a young man. He followed his grandfather Malcolm II as king after the latter's death on 25 Nov. 1034, without apparent opposition. He may have been Malcolm's acknowledged successor or tánaise as the succession appears to have been uneventful. Duncan would have been wise to pacify his remaining family, especially his senior cousin Thorfinn the Mighty, Earl of Orkney; his uncle, MacBeth; and the person closest to his throne, Queen Gruoch, MacBeth’s wife. By 1040, however, Duncan had been murdered and the crown was in the hands MacBeth.

Scottish Clan Map

Fifty-four years later, despite being the son of Malcolm Canmore, Duncan II was also dead at the hands of his relatives. Although Duncan had left a son, the throne was seized by his younger half-brother, one of the children of English Queen Margaret.

Ewyn (Ewan) fitz Duncan was one of the signatories on ‘The Ragman Rolls’, the deed of homage draughted by Edward I of England to bind the King and nobles of Scotland.[7]

John Duncan was the owner of property in Berwick in 1367. The mayor of this Border port is recorded as John Duncanson, in all likelihood the formers son.

According to one account, a Clan Donachie/Donnachadh[8][9][10] had emerged in the early 14th century from the Earls of Athole. The clan name is said to come from Donnachadh Reamhar -‘Stout Duncan’. Legend has it that this chief led the clan into Battle at Bannockburn in 1314. Recent genealogical research however suggests that this is unlikely. Both the Duncans and the Robertsons descend from the 4th Donachie/Donnachadh Chief.[8][9]

The predominant Duncans of the East of Scotland were the Boston, Massachusetts.[13] The Duncan name in Scotland is most prominent in Aberdeenshire, Dundee & Angus, and Fife.[14][15]


Camperdown House Dundee, Home of the Duncan's of Seaside & Lundie, Earls of Camperdown
  • Lundie Castle, once stood seven miles south-east of Coupar Angus, but there are no remains.[16] The lands were held by the Duncans and many of them are buried in nearby Lundie kirkyard.[16] The castle was demolished and replaced by a house in the seventeenth century, which itself was demolished to make way for the present mansion.[16]
  • Camperdown House was built by the Duncans in the nineteenth century in four hundred acres of park land.[16] The grounds are now a country park.[16] As of 2008 there were plans to have a museum at Camperdown House about Adam Duncan, 1st Viscount Duncan and his victory at the Battle of Camperdown.[16]


'Duncan Territorial Houses, Lairds and Barons'[17][18]

Clan Position

The Personal Banner of John Duncan of Sketraw, Laird of Sketraw[19]

Clan Duncan[8][9][10] is an Armigerous clan but with no present Chief of the name Duncan. For the present, the Clan is being led by the armigerous Territorial House of Duncan of Sketraw.[20] Both Armorial Bearings and Territorial Designation are recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland.[19] It is the aim of the Clan Duncan Society[21] to have a Chief of the name Duncan or one of the various spelling variants officially recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms either by a proven genealogical link to the last Chief around 1434 or more likely by the Derbfine process laid down by The Lord Lyon to gain official recognition of a Clan Duncan Chief.[22][23]

Clan Tartans

Duncan of Sketraw Clan/Family Tartan 2005

Tartans associated with Clan Duncan

The ancient kilt - not displayed [24]

[24] Duncan or Leslie of Wardis[25][26][27] Clan/Family Tartan which is the oldest and dates from around 1880. Little is known why the tartan is co named Leslie of Wardis an Aberdeenshire Family however, it has always been associated and known as the Clan Duncan Tartan.[25][27][28]

Thread Count:

K/8 G42 W6 G42 B42 R/8

(Half Sett with Full Count at the Pivots.)

The Duncan of Sketraw[29][30][31] Clan/Family Tartan, designed in 2005 by Brian Wilton of Scottish Tartans Authority.[31][32][33]

Thread Count:

R/4 K12 G4 K4 G28 K2 Y4 K2 B10 R2 B10 K2 W4 K2 G28 K2 B/4

(Half Sett with Full Count at the Pivots.)

See also


  1. ^ Latin phrases
  2. ^ Black, George F. (1996). The Surnames of Scotland. Birlinn Ltd. Edinburgh. p. 228.  
  3. ^ "Full text of "Annala Uladh = Annals of Ulster". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  4. ^ "The Turpillian Stone, Macalister/1845, Nash-Williams 1950". University College London. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  5. ^ "History of the Ruins of Iona by William Forbes Skeen" (PDF). Proceedings of The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (April 14th 1873). Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  6. ^ "The Book of Deer, Aberdeenshire, Folio 5". Firths Celtic Scotland. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  7. ^ "Ragman Rolls Of 1296 and 1291". Gayla Tempelton, Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  8. ^ a b c Maclauchlan, Thomas (1875). A history of the Scottish Highlands, Highland clans and Highland regiments. A. Fullarton, Edinbrgh. p. 252. 
  9. ^ a b c The Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 1934 page 177. by Frank Adam and Thomas Innes. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  10. ^ a b "The Duncans and the Donkins". By Mike Oettle Armorial Familia. Archived from the original on 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  11. ^ "The". Genealogical Survey of Britain - Royal Families of Europe p.20060. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  12. ^ Camperdown, The Earl of (1898). Admiral Duncan. Longmans, Green and Co. London, First Edition. 
  13. ^ Burk's Peerage and Gentry
  14. ^ "Surname Profiler". The National Trust. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  15. ^ "National Records Office Edinburgh". General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Coventry, Martin. (2008). Castles of the Clans: The Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. pp 169. ISBN 978-1-899874-36-1.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Public Register of All Arms Scotland, Ponts Manuscripts and The Hague Roll of Arms". The Court of The Lord Lyon Edinburgh. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  18. ^ "Scottish Territorial Designations, The Correct Form". By Stuart Morris of Balgonie and Eddergoll, yr. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  19. ^ a b c Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland - volume 88, folio 7.
  20. ^ "John A. Duncan of Sketraw, Laird of Sketraw". The Clan Duncan Society Scotland. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  21. ^ "Purpose of The Clan Duncan Society". The Clan Duncan Society Scotland. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  22. ^ "The search for clan chiefs". The Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  23. ^ "Clan Recognition and The Derbhfine". The Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^ a b "The Duncan or Leslie of Wardis - Duncan Clan/Family Tartan". Scottish Tartans Authority STA No.1112. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  26. ^ "The Duncan or Leslie of Wardis - Duncan Clan/Family Tartan". Scottish Tartan World Register No. WR1112. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  27. ^ a b "The Duncan or Leslie of Wardis - Duncan Clan/Family Tartan". Scottish Register of Tartans No. 1025. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  28. ^ "The Duncan or Leslie of Wardis - Duncan Clan/Family Tartan". Scottish Tartan World Register No. WR1112. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  29. ^ "The Duncan of Sketraw - Duncan Clan/Family Tartan". Scottish Tartans Authority STA No.6497. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  30. ^ "The Duncan of Sketraw - Duncan Clan/Family Tartany". Scottish Tartan World Register No. WR3224. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  31. ^ a b "The Duncan of Sketraw - Duncan Clan/Family Tartany". Scottish Register of Tartans No. 5301. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  32. ^ "The Duncan of Sketraw - Duncan/Clan Family Tartan". Scottish Tartans Authority STA No.6497. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  33. ^ "The Duncan of Sketraw - Duncan Clan/Family Tartan". Scottish Tartan World Register No. WR3224. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 

External links

  • The Official Clan Duncan Society Web Site
  • Duncan Biographies, Clan Duncan
  • Duncan Genealogy, Clan Duncan
  • Duncan Heraldry (Coats of Arms) & Crest Badges
  • Clan Duncan Information on ScotClans
  • Clan Duncan Worldwide Network
  • The Council of Scottish Armigerous Clans & Families
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