Scottish Clan Profile: Grant

Clan Grant tartan
Clan Grant tartan
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THE name Grant is thought to have originated with the Norman invasion force, though this has been disputed with claims the origins of the clan is indeed Norse.

The origins of the name meaning itself is also disputed with suggestions that include a derivative of the French word grande, and the more popular belief that it came from Sliabh Grianais – the moor above Aviemore- which was held, also by tradition, to be the first land in Scotland occupied by the Grant progenitors.

Indeed it is even assumed the pronunciation of the name is wrong and that today’s more popular pronunciation Grant, would have originally been pronounced more like ground but ending with a T instead of a D.

Whatever the provenance of the name it cannot be disputed that the family has been an influential one.

The first of the Grants recorded in Scotland was in the 13th century when they acquired the lands of Stratherrick, the first of the named chiefs being Lawrence le Grand.

Wars of Scottish Independence

During Wallace’s rebellion, clan Grant added their banner to those who followed Wallace and fought for him in several battles, John and Randolph Grant were both captured by English forces at the battle of Dunbar in 1293.

The family then picked the right side in the subsequent wars of succession, by supporting clan Bruce in their push for the crown. When Robert the Bruce was finally named king after a long struggle, the Grants were rewarded with lands in Strathspey which then became their base and remain so to this day.

16th Century

By the 16th century the clan’s growth in influence had risen massively and they found themselves now very much at the forefront of national politics, their main allies being the clan Gordon and the powerful earl of Huntly.

Though by 1580 this alliance soured as the now predominately protestant Grants began to argue with the Catholic Gordon’s over religion.

There followed several clashes including the most famous, which resulted in a defeat for the Grants by the Gordons and their allies at the battle of Ballindalloch.

Civil War and the Jacobite uprisings

During the civil war in the 17th century Scotland was torn between the Scottish Royalists — supporters of Charles I under the command of James Graham 1st Maquis of Montrose - and the Covenanters who had controlled Scotland since 1639 and who were allied with the English Government under Cromwell.

During this time the Grants, who were staunch supporters of the Covenanters, led by David Grant fought the Royalists at the battle of Tippermuir in 1644.

This was followed by a battle with Clan Cameron over a territory squabble before the Grants switched sides to fight alongside King Charles at the battle of Worcester against the predominantly English forces in which the Royalists were soundly defeated. The Grants however remained in favour of the British Government, with six hundred of them joining Colonel Livingstone to fight under the banner of William of Orange against the Jacobite uprising.

They continued this support during the subsequent uprisings, though many of the clan still fought for the Jacobites.

In 1725 the Grants were part of the force formed from several clans which went on to become the 42nd Highlanders, famously known as the Blackwatch.

Though several branches of the clan did decide to fight on the side of the Jacobites with several hundred fighting against the Hanoverians at Culloden.

Highland Clearances

The clan survived the worst ravages of the highland clearances due to the prestigious efforts of clan Chief Sir James Grant, who built an entire town for his clan to ensure their survival. Grantown-on-Spey, which was built to provide all they needed including schools, mills, a hospital and even an orphanage.


The clan is perhaps most famous through its contribution to the whisky world. William Grant a descendant of the clan, built the now famous Glenfiddich distillery by hand with the help of his seven sons. The distillery began production on Christmas day 1887, this in turn led to the creation of a second distillery Balvennie and now Glenfiddich is exported to 180 countries around the world.

Clan Motto:- Stand Fast (Craig Elachie), this was the supposed battle cry that called the Grants to arms alongside the burning summit at the top of Craig Elachie, the high hill in Strathspey.

Castles:- Castle Grant, seat of the Clan chief, Ballindalloch Castle.

Notable Clan members:- Sir James Grant, the builder of Grantown-on-Spey, Lawrence Le Grande, William Grant (founder of William Grant & Sons)

Titles:- Baron of Strathspey.

Current clan chief:- The current Chief of Clan Grant is the Rt. Hon The Lord Strathspey, Sir James Patrick Trevor Grant of Grant, Bt, 6th Baron Strathspey, 33rd hereditary Clan chief of Clan Grant.