McLaren Surname Meaning, History & Origin
- MacLaren. The MacLaren clan.
- Clan MacLaren Society. US MacLaren clan website.
- A McLaren Migration. McLarens from Scotland to Canada and to America.
- MacLarens of Greenwich, PEI.
MacLarens from 1770 onwards.
Scotland. The MacLarens are a Scottish clan that, it is believed,
takes their name from Labhran of Ardveche who
was the hereditary Abbot of Achtow in Balquhidder in
Trossachs (Perthshire) in the early
1200’s. This theory is supported
by the MacLaren rallying cry
in Gaelic of Creag an Tuirc,
meaning “Boars Rock.” The rock
in question is at
Balquhidder near Achtow. And Balquhidder
was subsequently where the MacLarens were based.
The MacLarens were a warlike
clan and had many feuds with neighboring clans.
But they did
manage to forge an enduring alliance with the Stuarts of Appin,
sealed by a marriage in the 15th century.
However, MacLaren clan
numbers were in decline in the following centuries. Some
MacLarens left Scotland and became mercenaries abroad, most notably in
Sweden (Carl G. Laurin, the name of a modern Swedish writer, is a
legacy of those times). The MacLaren
clan supported the Jacobite cause in 1715 and again in 1745. After
the defeat at Culloden clan chief Donald
MacLaren of Invernenty remained
until the amnesty of 1757.
The MacLaren story was
presented in Margaret MacLaren’s 1985 book
The MacLaren, A History of Clan Labhran.
McLaren was a self-made man who started his own business as
a draper in Edinburgh in the early 1800’s, joined the City Council and
saved it from bankruptcy, and became Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and later
MP. He was married three times and raised a number of achieving
children: John, an MP and judge; Charles an MP and baronet; Walter also
an MP; Helen an education and public health advocate; and Agnes a
Catholic missionary and public health promoter in India.
McLarens have moved south to Edinburgh or Glasgow or England and
have emigrated. But the largest numbers in Scotland are still to
found in Perthshire.
America. John and Patrick
McLaren, captured at Preston while
fighting for the Old Pretender, were transported on the Susannah
to South Carolina in 1715.
McLaurin from Appin in
Argyllshire fought and died under the McLaren standard for Bonnie
at Culloden in 1746. His son Duncan,
later nicknamed Old McJohn, was orphaned at the age of five. He came to North Carolina in the 1770’s and
fought on the American side in the Revolutionary War.
Sixteen McLaurin families from Appin emigrated to North Carolina
MacLaren was an early arrival to Prince Edward Island on the Falmouth in 1770. James
MacLaren of Invernenty made it there in
1803 and the 19th century saw a sizeable MacLaren
presence in PEI. A number of McLaren families also
settled near Lanark village in
MacLarens have been
resident in Buckingham, Quebec since 1840.
James MacLaren built a sawmill there in 1864 and that was the
the MacLaren dynasty in the region that has extended until the present
day. The last of their industrial assets,
was sold in 2000.
Balquhidder in Perthshire. The heartland
of the Clan MacLaren lies in and around the parish of Balquhidder and
that slope north from Loch Voil and Loch Doine (known as the famous
The parish is 18 miles
long and 7 miles wide and includes the west end of Loch Earn and most
Lubnaig. The ruined kirk of the village
is dated 1631 and lies near the site of an even earlier church. Graves in the churchyard date from 1685 and
include that of Rob Roy MacGregor.
ancient rallying place of the clan was Creag
an Tuirc (the Boar’s Rock), which is on a small hill overlooking
and can be approached by a fairly steep path.
The MacLarens and the Buchanans. One day
in the late 1490’s when the MacLarens were busy at the fair, word came
Buchanan clan was marching up towards them through Strathyre. There was no time to lose and MacLarens
rushed to arms. They had not all arrived by the time the Buchanans
approached. However, they were not
daunted and they attacked the Buchanans.
first the Buchanans were faring better and drove the MacLarens back. The MacLaren chief saw one of his sons cut
down and, suddenly seized with battle madness, turned and shouted the
battle cry Creag An Tuirc. Whirling
his claymore, he rushed furiously at
clansmen followed him and
the Buchanans were cut down like corn.
Only two escaped by swimming the Balvaig river.
But they were followed. One was cut
down at Gartnafuaran and the second
was cut down at a place now known as Sron Laine.
Donald MacLaren of Invernenty. After Cullodon,
seven rebels were surprised in a hut in the
Braes of Lenny by the Perth volunteers.
The volunteers surrounded the hut and, after heavy firing on
the rebels, being all wounded except one, surrendered and were taken as
prisoners to Stirling. Their numbers
included Captain Donald MacLaren.
was then being brought to Carlisle to be tried, but made his escape on
way. At Ettrick Braehead near Moffat,
having given one of the soldiers the charge of his horse on pretense of
retiring to ease nature, he swaddled himself in his plaid and rolled
brae. Though he was pursued and fired
at, he managed to escape. It was this
incident that formed the story of “Pate in Peril” in Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet.
was said to have carried with him a Theophrastus printed in
Greek and Latin and a silver drinking cup, according to a descendant
inherited these items.
emigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1803, just ahead of a legal notice
carried by Walter Scott on his first trip to the Highlands.
Duncan McLaren, Edinburgh’s Member for Scotland. Duncan McLaren
was a dominant and at times domineering figure in 19th century
Scotland. ‘The Member for Scotland’ was
the nickname given him at Westminster because he took up all manner of
issues and initiated the campaign for a Scottish Secretary.
political base was among the
religious and political radicals of Edinburgh.
As a young councillor he saved the city from bankruptcy and
free schools for poor families. He
challenged the Whig lawyers who controlled Edinburgh politics, became
Provost and successfully sued The
Scotsman for libel.
draper’s business in the High Street he moved into railways, banking
suburban property boom. Married to the
sister of the free-trade liberal leader John Bright, he helped draft
reform the electoral system and voted for women’s rights.
Of his nine children, three became Liberal
MPs. Yet he tried to frustrate one
marriage hopes and another’s ambitions to be a doctor.
eventful life was covered in a recent
biography by Pickard Willis, The Member
for Scotland, published in 2011.
Duncan MacLaren and His Bride in Blantyre, PEI. Among the earliest parts of
Prince Edward Island to attract immigrants was a district named Morell lying
along the north shore of the province.
In time a road was cut and before long the central parts became
by people from Scotland who named the section Blantyre.
there was only a footpath between Blantyre and Morell and the route was
travelled in winter except on snow-shoes.
Among the youth of Blantyre
was one of more than usual promise named Duncan MacLaren who had a
place of his
own and was looking for someone to share his troubles and joys. His friend Norman
him that for
that purpose he must go
away from his home as there
girl in Blantyre that
would introduce him to a family at Morell
with just the
that he needed. And there
Duncan did indeed meet and wed his bride Catherine.
Much snow had come down when Duncan and Catherine departed Morell for
Blantyre. Catherine, though a brave and
sturdy lass, gave indications of weariness as the day wore on and it
evident that it would be impossible to make her way to Blantyre. Here was an ugly predicament. They would
have to spend the night in the wood.
morning, leaving his spouse wrapped in blankets, Duncan set out for
after temporarily getting lost, eventually reached his destination.
Duncan had no sooner related the story of his
voyage than horns began to sound through the settlement and heralds ran
and thither. When the cause became known
there was a simultaneous move to harness oxen and before sunset six
ready to start in quest of the bride.
They were determined she should arrive in style.
The first bride to Blantyre must come with a
flourish of trumpets. A sort of regal
seat was improvised and covered with the skin of an ox.
On another sled was placed on end a big,
empty puncheon to form a stand for a couple of trumpeters.
It was long after midnight when the pair
arrived at Blantyre. Here torches were
lighted, guns fired, while the puncheon was improvised for a drum. The whole thing constituted a bridal
procession such as few have ever enjoyed.
McLarens in Lanark, Ontario. In September
1820, Peter McLaren and his family were among the original settlers of
Ontario. These settlers
were severely hampered by their September arrival.
with winter fast approaching. There
was no time to clear land for fall
wheat and little time to erect shelter.
They lived first in tents made of bark and branches, then in
Land in the area had been
surveyed prior to their arrival and each male over twenty one years of
been granted 100 acres. In addition,
they were given tools, farm implements and seed. Now
all they had to do was to locate their
granted property in the middle of the forest and get started.
A year later Peter’s older brother
John arrived with his family in a second group of settlers and managed
secure an adjacent plot of land. This
group had more time to prepare for winter, and had the council of the
already in place, but there was still the small matter of clearing the
trees. Many McLarens in fact
subsequently became lumberjacks.
land settled by Peter and John McLaren was just over a mile east of
become Lanark village. This area was obviously suited for agriculture
as their families grew, they expanded into a family of farms.
- Abbot Labhran who lived at Balquhidder
in the early 1200’s is considered the forebear of the MacLaren clan in Perthshire.
- Donald MacLaren was a Canadian
World War I flying ace.
- Bruce McLaren was a New Zealand
racing car driver and developer whose name lives on in the McLaren F1 race car.
- Bill McLaren was a much-loved TV rugby commentator from the Scottish borders.
- Malcolm McLaren was an English rock impresario, the promoter of punk music in the 1970’s and the manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls.
Select McLaren Numbers Today
- 11,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 2,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
Select McLaren and Like Surnames
These surnames originated from the northern part of Scotland, either the northeast of the country, the Scottish Highlands, or in one case (the surname Linklater) the Orkney isles north of Scotland.
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