Western USA Branch
According to Irish manuscripts the ancestors of the Clan MacLachlan are descended from the O'Neills, Kings of Ireland. The name means "son of Lachlan" and Lachlan itself is from the older Gaelic name Lochlainn. The name MacLachlan became a surname many years after the family had moved from Ireland.
Tradition states that one of the sons of O'Neill went to Scotland in the early 1100s and married a princess from Norway. Their first son was named Lachlan, so the mother could remember her homeland of Norway, the Land of Lochs, or Lach lan. One of their grandsons, Anrothan, married a Scottish princess from Cowal, an area in western Scotland. (She was the daughter of either the King of Scots, or possibly the local King of Argyll, or even the sub-king of Cowal -- it is not known for certain which.) She supposedly received an inheritance of Cowal and Knapdale. Chiefs of the clan later claimed their descent from Anrothan. Medieval Irish and Scottish genealogies tell us that Anrothan was the ancestor of the MacLachlans of Strathlachlan, along with the MacEwens and Gilchrists.
There is an old, charming legend that gives the reason why the MacLachlan Chiefs' coat-of-arms is supported by two roebucks (deer). When King Alexander II made his great show of strength in Argyll in 1249, he ordered the local chiefs to send their taxes "by the fastest messenger." Laclan Mor (Mor is the gaelic word for great or large) tied the moneybags to the horns of a roebuck, demonstrating both the ingenuity of the early MacLachlan Chief and his thoughts regarding having to pay taxes even in those days.
In 1292 King John Balliol elevated Argyll into a sheriffdom and Gillescop (Gilespic) MacLachlan was one of the 12 principal barons of whose lands it was composed. His son received the same name and gave his support to Robert Bruce and attended the King's first Parliament at St. Andrews in 1308.
Ewan MacLachlan, in 1296, was among the Scottish landowners obliged to swear an oath of fealty (allegiance) to the victorious King Edward I, of whom Gillescop MacLachlan the younger in 1305 requested "the barony of Molbride, which was called Strat," presumably Kilbride in Strathlachlan.
MacLachlan the younger made a grant to the Catholic Church, friars of Glasgow, and in 1456 Donald of Castle Lachlan confirmed the family's grant. In 1536 the Chief, Lachlan MacLachlan, was prominent among the party of the Early of Argyll. By the time the Chief's estates were enumerated in a statute in 1633, they contained more than 30 farms in Strathlachlan and the neighboring areas of Loch Fyne.
The MacLachlans were elevated into a free barony in 1680. When the revolution came in 1688, the MacLachlans swore their allegiance to Prince Charles. It says much for the popularity of Lachlan MacLachlan of the Ilk, 17th Chief, that he was able to make his way with his men from the very center of Argyll to join the Prince in the North, despite the fact that he was surrounded by Campbells.
Clan MacLachlan played a gallant part in the 1745 Rising with Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Prince Charles dispatched MacLachlan of Castle Lachlan with a few horses to Perth to give them intelligence of his designs and to hasten their march to Carlisle. MacLachlan was struck by a cannonball as he was advancing on horseback to lead his regiment. It is said that the dead Chief's riderless horse broke away and galloped toward home, swimming across Loch Fyne, bringing the first news of the catastrophe, and that the horse thereafter took up residence in a ground-floor cellar of the castle. Retributive measures by the government after 1745 caused the dead Chief's property to be confiscated for his part in the rebellion. In 1746 the British sailed up Loch Fyne and bombarded the castle, leaving it in ruins, and leaving the bereaved family without a home. The lands were later restored to the late chief's son.
There is so much to be recorded in the history of the MacLachlans, and so little on record. Not only are the events prior to 1745, when most of our ancestors lived in the Highlands, of considerable interest, but many later occurrences also make for good reading. MacLachlans have migrated to many lands, including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, and the United States. Some have moved back to Scotland upon their retirement, while others have chosen to remain in their new countries.