History of Clan MacLellan

According to Scottish historians and the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Clan MacLellan is an ancient, highly respected family and not a sept of any other clan. The name MacLellan was mentioned in a lost charter of King Alexander of Scotland in 1217 and is identified with Galloway as early as 1273. They possessed lands in Galloway in the reign of Alexander II, 1217, and were hereditary sheriffs of that province.

Maclellan of Bombie, an ancestor of Lord Kirkcudbright, accompanied the Scottish patriot, Wallace, when, after his defeat at Falkirk, in 1298, he sailed from Kirkcudbright for France, in order to entreat the help of Philip, the French king, in his struggle against Edward I., their common enemy.

The Maclellans became so numerous and prosperous about the beginning of the fifteenth century, that there were no fewer than fourteen knights of the name at that period living in Galloway. Sir Patrick Maclellan of Bombie forfeited his estates for marauding through the lands of the Douglases, the Lords of Galloway. James II promised to restore the lands to anyone who would stop a band of gypsies who had been terrorizing the district. Sir Patrick's son, Sir William killed the leader and brought his head, on the end of his sword, to the king. The king seemed not to remember the promise but Sir William declared "THINK ON" and was granted the lands.

The Maclellans were from the earliest times staunch Royalists, and zealously supported the successive kings of Scotland in their contests with their turbulent and too powerful nobles. Sir Robert MacLellan, a direct descendant of the Laird of Bombie whom the Earl of Douglas murdered, was one of the Gentlemen of the Bed-chamber, and was raised to the peerage by Charles I., in 1633, by the title of Lord Kirkcudbright.

The newly created peer fought gallantly on the royal side in the Great Civil War. John, the third lord, was very eccentric and hotheaded, and in his impetuous zeal on behalf of the royal cause, he compelled his vassals in a body to take up arms in behalf of the King, and incurred such enormous expense in raising and arming them as completely ruined his estates, which were seized and sold by his creditors.

As nothing was left to support the dignity, the title was not claimed for nearly sixty years after the death of this luckless Royalist, and even then it was assumed only for the purpose of voting in a keen contest, for the position of representative peer, between the Earls of Eglintoun and Aberdeen. The sixth Baron Kirkcudbright, de jure, was so reduced in his circumstances that he was obliged to support himself and his family by keeping a glover's shop in Edinburgh. Once a year, however, on the night of the Peers Ball, he took his place in full dress, with his sword by his side, among his brother nobles, and by this act asserted his equality of rank with those who on other occasions were his customers.

William McClellan of Borness, who became sixth Lord Kirkcudbright, had 6 sons and 5 daughters. The youngest son, John, seventh Lord Kirkcudbright, on petition to the King, had his claim to the title allowed by the House of Lords in 1773. He entered the army and attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1801, leaving two sons. The elder, Sholto Henry, became eighth Lord Kirkcudbright, and died without issue. The younger, Camden Grey, ninth Lord Kirkcudbright, had an only child, a daughter, and on his death, in 1832, the title became dormant or extinct.

Our clan was without leadership during the clan revival in the 19th century, but in 1981, a small group began what is now Clan MacLellan, gathering members from around the world. The "Scottish Diaspora" dispersed MacLellans throughout the world; the largest numbers settled in Ulster, then Nova Scotia and the United States. Some made their way to Australia