Ten fantastic facts about Clan Macpherson

Scottish clans have long and proud history – and some moments are spoken of with more pride than others!

Here are ten important facts every aspiring member of Clan Macpherson should know.

1. The name Macpherson comes from the Gaelic ‘Mac a’ Phersain’, meaning ‘son of the parson’. Mhuirich Cattanach, fourth chief of Clan Chattan, was made parson of Kingussie, and his second son was the first to be called Macpherson.

2. Clan Macpherson’s war cry is ‘Creag Dhubh Chlann Chatain!’or ‘Black Rock of Clan Chattan!’. This is a reference to the fact that the Clan Macpherson forms part of the Chattan Confederation, along with eleven other Scottish clans.

3. The Clan Macpherson is sometimes known as the Clan of the Three Brothers due to the fact that Ewan Ban Macpherson had three sons. Kenneth Macpherson of Clunie, Iain Macpherson of Pitman and Gillies Macpherson of Invereshie.

4. Cluny’s Cage is often confused with Cluny’s cave. The cage was believed to be a hiding place of Ewan Macpherson following the battle of Culloden, built on the slopes of Ben Alder and it has also been said that Bonnie Prince Charlie used the cage as a hiding place before heading over the sea to Skye. Cluny’s Cage was immortalised by Robert Louis Stevenson in his novel, Kidnapped.

5. Colonel Tommy Macpherson was born in Edinburgh, although his family came from Newtonmore. Macpherson became famous as the ‘Kilted Killer’ during the Second World War when he fought with the No.11 Commando Unit, the French Resistance and Italian partisans. He was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre three times, the Légion d’honneur and a Papal Knighthood.

Sir William Macpherson lets this stuffed wildcat don his bonnet when he isn’t wearing it (Photo: Angus Blackburn)

6. The clan motto is ‘Touch not the cat bot a glove’. ‘Bot’ means without. The ‘glove’ of a wildcat is the pad. If the cat is ‘ungloved’, its claws are unsheathed. The motto serves as a warning that one should beware when the wildcat’s claws are ‘without a glove’. It is a reference to the historically violent nature of the clan and serves as a metaphorical warning to others that they should think twice before interfering with Macpherson business.

7. The direct line of the Macphersons of Cluny died out in 1943. Sir William Alan Macpherson of Cluny and Blairgowrie is the clan chief today.

8. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Spanish gold – now known as the treasure of Loch Arkaig – was landed on the west coast of Scotland to help the campaign. It was taken to Loch Arkaig for safekeeping, but some of the gold disappeared and has never been accounted for. Fingers have been pointed at Cluny Macpherson as he had been entrusted to look after the treasure.

9. James MacPherson (1675–1700) was an infamous robber from Banff in Aberdeenshire. When he was eventually caught and while under sentence of death he is said to have composed a song known as MacPherson’s Lament or MacPherson’s Rant. The story goes that he played it under the gallows, and, after playing the tune, he then offered his fiddle to anyone in his clan who would play it at his wake. When no one came forward to take the fiddle, he broke it and then threw it into the crowd with the remark, ‘No one else shall play Jamie MacPherson’s fiddle’. The broken fiddle is now in the MacPherson Clan museum near Newtonmore, Inverness-shire. A version of the lament was rewritten by Robert Burns.

10. Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), also known as Sister Aimee, was an Canadian-American Pentecostal evangelist and media celebirty of the 1920s and 1930s. She founded the Four Square Church, which now has eight million followers and 60,000 churches in 144 countries. She conducted theatrical faith healing demonstrations and used ground-breaking radio broadcasts to teach the gospel. She was also famous for her mysterious five-week disappearance which she claimed was due to a kidnapping.