Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie

Ten fascinating facts about the clan MacLeod

Clan MacLeod of Raasay has a long and proud heritage.

We present 10 important facts every aspiriing member of the clan should know.

1. The Macleod of Raasay’s clan motto is: ‘Luceo non uro,’ meaning, ‘I shine, not burn,’ when translated from Latin. The clan’s crest portrays the sun as the centrepiece. Clan Mackenzie share the same motto.

2. The Macleods of Raasay descend from Torquil, an ancestor from Lewis, who lived in the 16th century. The clan began to branch out and in 1571 acquired a royal charter for the lands of Assynt, Gairloch and the islands of Raasay and Rona.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

3. A significant part of the clan’s history took place during the 1745 Jacobite uprising, in which the Macleods of Raasay made the decision to support Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite cause during the campaign. Their cousins, the MacLeods of Dunvegan, did not, instead choosing to join the Duke of Cumberland’s army. After the Battle of Culloden, the vengeful Hanoverian army burned down Raasay House and pillaged the island.

4. In 1988, Torquil Roderick Macleod, 17th Chief of Raasay, was officially recognised, by Lord Lyon King of Arms as Torquil Roderick Macleod of the Lewes and Chief of the Baronial House of Macleod of the Lewes. Torquil was succeeded by his son, Roderick John Macleod, in 2001 as the 18th Chief of Macleods of Raasay. His son, Alastair Loudoun Macleod, will be his successor.

5. Raasay House, located on the Isle of Raasay, is a Georgian mansion built in the 1750s. However, the Macleod connections date back to the early 1500s when the Macleod Chief of Raasay clan house stood on or near the present site. The last chief left Raasay House in 1843 when he emigrated to Australia. In 2007, the Raasay House Community Company purchased the property: current chief Roderick John Macleod is a patron. Despite suffering a second fire in 2009, the house is now a hotel, activity centre and cafe.

The ruins of Ardvreck Castle

6. In 1650, after the Battle of Carbisdale, the wife of Neil Macleod of Assynt offered shelter to the defeated Marquis of Montrose at Ardvreck Castle and then betrayed him to the Earl of Argyll.

7. Following the betrayal of Montrose, the Macleods of Assynt and Gairloch became increasingly unpopular and eventually lost their mainland lands to the Mackenzies of Kintail in the late 17th century.

8. The Macleod of Raasay clan tartan dates back to 1829. The design is very similar to one of those created by charlatan brothers Charles Edward and John Sobieski Stuart in their falsified manuscripts, later published in the Vestiarium Scoticum. It is a simple red and black design.

9. The Isle of Raasay, which has a tiny population of 160, has a new ferry terminal which operates a small car ferry, connecting the remote island with the nearby Isle of Skye and, from there, the mainland. Raasay was the home of the Gaelic writer Sorley MacLean and, tradition has it, Clan MacSween.

10. The clan surname Macleod and other variants are an Anglicised version of the Gaelic patronymic name Mac Leòid meaning ‘son of Leòd’. The Gaelic name Leòd itself is a form of the Old Norse personal name Ljótr which means ‘ugly’. Leòd, born around 1200, is the common ancestor of the MacLeods of MacLeod and the Macleods of Raasay and Lewis.