name is thought to be derived from the Gaelic "cam-shron"
meaning "crooked nose" but the earliest records
show the name as "Cambron" which may indicate that
it originated in Camberone (from the Gaelic "cam brun"
meaning "crooked hill" - now Cameron parish) in
Fife. However, there is also a Cameron placename in the outskirts
of Edinburgh and in Lennox. To add to the confusion, there
is a Cambron in Flanders and the Cameron coat of arms differ
only in colouring from those of the family of Oudenarde, nobles
There is a record of a John Cameron in the Carse of Gowrie
(on the other side of the river Tay from Fife) and Hugh Cambrun
was sheriff of Forfar and John Cambron was sheriff of Perth.
A hundred years later the name appeared in Lochaber in the
Often described as "fiercer than fierceness itself"
the Camerons originally consisted of three branches in Lochaber
- McMartins of Letterfinlay, McGillonies of Strone and McSorlies
of Glen Nevis. The first chief of the combined families was
Donald Dubh (born around 1400) who was descended from the
McGillonies of Strone but through marriage with the McMartins
brought the federation together. Donald Dubh and his successors
were known as captains of Clan Cameron until the early 16th
century when the lands of Lochiel were united by charter into
the barony of Lochiel by Allan Cameron, the 12th chief.
The clan assisted Donald, Lord of the Isles at the Battle
of Harlaw in 1411. A chief of the clan, Ewen of Lochiel, was
born in 1629 and was a supporter of King Charles II. He was
knighted in 1682 and fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie
in 1689. Oddly, there were Camerons fighting on the other
side - Camerons from Fife who supported the Protestant cause.
Ewen of Lochiel was too old to fight in the 1715 Jacobite
Uprising but sent his son and the clan to assist the Earl
of Mar. Sir Ewen's grandson was known as "the gentle
Lochiel" and is regarded as one of the noblest of all
the Highland chiefs. He was persuaded, through loyalty to
the crown and the persuasive words of Prince Charles Edward
Stewart, to support the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. It is said
that if Cameron of Lochiel had not agreed to participate,
the rising might never have got off the ground, such was his
influence. During the Jacobite retreat, Lochiel prevented
the Highlanders from sacking Glasgow and to this day when
Cameron of Lochiel enters the city, the bells of the churches
are rung in his honour. The Gentle Lochiel survived Culloden
and was exiled to France. Following the General Act of Amnesty
of 1784 the Cameron lands were restored and Gentle Lochiel's
grandson, Donald, became the 22nd chief.
In 1793 Allan Cameron maintained the fighting tradition of
the clan by raising the 79th Regiment which, in 1881, became
the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. The 25th chief, who died
in 1905, was a Member of Parliament and his son raised four
new battalions of the Cameron Highlanders on the outbreak
of the First World War.
Cameron was the 35th most frequent surname at the General
Register Office in 1995.
The motto of the Camerons is "Aonaibh ri chéile"
("Unite"). Septs (sub-branch) of the clan Cameron
include Clark, Clarke, Clerk, Clarkson, Macolonie, MacChlery,
MacGillonie, MacKail, MacLerie, MacMartin, MacSorley, Martin,
Paul and Sorley.
Information courtesy of RampantScotland.com
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