RAF man vows to fight for recognition as clan chieftain

A FORMER squadron leader has promised to continue his fight officially to be recognised as a clan chief despite his bid being rejected by Scotland’s King of Arms.

Iain McMillan MacAulay says he is determined to make another claim in five years by which time he will be 86.

Mr MacAulay, who lives in Drumbeg, Sutherland, was made commander, or interim leader, of the Clan MacAulay in 1997 but was seeking to be recognised as the clan’s 13th chief.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In August he was given the unanimous backing of a specially-called clan court, or derbhfine, which had not sat for more than two and a half centuries.

The decision was passed to Robin Blair, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, for approval, the first time that a derbhfine had asked Lyon to appoint a chief with no genealogical link to the last known clan leader.

However, Mr Blair has refused Mr MacAulay’s petition, saying ten years must elapse after the appointment of a commander before a proposal for chief is considered.

Mr MacAulay said yesterday: "I was very sad and disappointed at the decision. But I will have a go again. I am not giving up. I will outlive him if necessary.

"I was relatively confident but not sure. But of course in refusing me he has refused every member of the clan."

The decision will now be discussed at a meeting of the clan association in Stirling next month.

The last known chief of the clan was Aulay MacAulay who sold the MacAulay estate of Ardincaple in the late 18th century. Between 1991 and his death in 1995, Archibald Craig MacAulay tried unsuccessfully to find genealogical proof that he was descended from MacAulay of Ardincaple. The search was then continued by his brother, Iain McMillan MacAulay.

In 1999, Iain, now Commander MacAulay, was selected to go forward as chief but was challenged by Iain Davidson MacAulay, 59, a newspaper industry consultant living in Chester, but originally from Helensburgh. He claimed a direct bloodline to the chief, but a claim to be chief was never put forward.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Blair believes his ruling will have a bearing on many other clans and families.

"The decision in this case could open a door towards chiefship for many clans whose chiefship has remained dormant because of the impossibility of identifying a genealogically related chief," he said.

He said a decision to recognise Commander MacAulay as chief would suggest that the search for a blood link was no longer necessary and would discourage further research.

But he said a previous rule, that a commander should wait 20 years before being considered as chief is now unreasonable, and said it should be reduced to ten.

Mr Blair also said he could not be certain that Commander MacAulay’s son, Dermot, a crofter in Sutherland, would act as chief with the same enthusiasm as his father when the title was passed down.

The Clan MacAulay claims descent from King Kenneth MacAlpin, the 29th Dalriadic and the 41st Pictish king, who ruled from 841 to 860 AD.

Related topics: