Shaw of Tordarroch

Shaw Macduff, a younger son of Duncan, Earl, or Thane of Fife and a descendent of Kenneth Macalpine, was made keeper of the strategic royal castle at Inverness by Malcolm IV. His heirs, the ‘Mhic an Toiseach’, the ‘sons of the Thane’, consolidated their power around Inverness in support of the royal government. Shaw’s grandson, Shaw Macwilliam, acquired important lands at Rothiemurchus in 1236. Beset by the belligerent power of their neighbours, Clan Comyn, his son, Ferquhard, sought alliance with the powerful Macdonalds by marrying Mora, daughter of Angus Mhor, Lord of Islay. In 1291, Ferquhard’s son, Angus, sixth chief of Mackintosh, married Eva, daughter of Dougall Dall, the descendent of Ghillechattan Mor. From this union emerged the large tribal confederation to be known as the Clan Chattan and the first chief of Clan Shaw, John, Angus and Eva’s second son.

The feud with the Comyns led the confederation to support Robert the Bruce; they fought at Bannockburn in 1314 and took part in the Scottish invasions of England in 1318 and 1319. The second chief, Shaw Macghillechrist Mhic Iain, a great-grandson of Angus and Eva, was generally known as ‘Sgorfhiaclach’ meaning ‘bucktooth’. He was raised with his cousins at the Mackintosh seat at Moy, and it seems certain that he was present at the Battle of Invernahavon in 1370. Shaw was elected captain of Clan Chattan for the legendary raid of Angus in 1391 under the Wolf of Badenoch. The long-standing feud between Clan Chattan and the Camerons, which had led to the Battle of Inverahavon, continued to threaten the stability of the region, and it was proposed that a trial by combat of champions should be used to settle the dispute. Shaw ‘Bucktooth’ was appointed to lead Clan Chattan to the appointed battleground at the North Inch of Perth in September 1396. Sixty Highlanders fought before an illustrious audience including Robert III and the Dauphin of France.

Aedh, the grandson of Shaw ‘Bucktooth’, settled at Tordarroch in 1468. Occupying a strategic site above the fort on the River Nairn, he and his followers became a powerful force in their own right, known as Clan Aedh or Ay. While the Shaws, or Clan Ay, were consolidating their power in Strathnairn, the chief of Mackintosh was murdered in 1524, leaving an infant son, William. To the outrage of the local chiefs, the Earl of Moray seized the boy, allegedly as his guardian. Clan Chattan retaliated against Moray, and Alan Ciar MacIain led Clan Ay in raiding the earl’s lands. Heavy fines forced Alan Ciar to sell the feu of Rothiemurchus to the Earl of Huntly. 

On 22 May 1543, a Clan Chattan band was signed at Inverness, and Angus Macrobert of Tordarroch was one of the signatories. Again, on 4 April 1609, Tordarroch signed the great Clan Chattan band of union and manrent at Termit, on behalf of Clan Ay and his Rothiemurchus cousins.

The clan continued to prosper, and by 1691 Duncan Shaw, Laird of Crathienaird, had risen to be chamberlain to the Earl of Mar.

William Mackintosh of Borlum called out Clan Chattan to fight for the Jacobite cause on 15 September 1715 at Farr near Tordarroch. Robert, the Younger of Tordarroch, and his brother, Angus, led the Shaw contingent, which was noted for its discipline, equipment and bravery. After the collapse of the rising at Preston, both Robert and Angus were imprisoned. Robert died soon after his release in 1718. Angus was transported to Virginia until he was pardoned in 1722. He never recovered from his experience or the death of his brother, and although a Jacobite, he refused to call out his clan for Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. Many Shaws, however, rallied to the prince’s standard, including James Shaw of Crathienaird. Lady Anne, wife of the Mackintosh chief, called out the whole Clan Chattan. Two of her most trusted lieutenants were James and John Shaw of Kinrara. Later, as the Govermment forces marched north, Angus of Tordarroch’s oath to the Hanovarian Government was stretched to breaking point. When the armies met at Culloden, he had to be restrained by his wife from joining his kinsmen.

In 1970, the Lord Lyon recognised Major Iain Shaw of Tordarroch, father of the present chief, in the undifferenced arms of the name, in a line of unbroken continuity to the ancient earls of Fife.

The tartan illustrated is Shaw of Tordarroch. However, it is equally correct to wear the green Shaw (derived from the regimental tartan of the Black Watch) inmemory of Fearchar Shaw who was executed at Tower Hill in1743 for refusing to serve overseas when the regiment had been promised that no such service would be demanded of it. Fearchar and two comrades were made an example of to discourage further mutiny and quickly became heroes in their native Highlands.

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