In 1645 on May 9th, King Charles’ representative, the Marquis of Montrose, confronted an army of Covenanters led by Sir John Urray, near a village named Auldearn in Scotland. Rain was falling as the battle commenced. Among the 3,500 foot and 400 horse assembled under Urray’s command, was Ruairidh MacIain Domhnull Bhain MacLennan, Chief of the Clan, defending the standard of Lord Seaforth. A tall, rugged, red-bearded highlander, he fought savagely and desperately in the ensuing clash, during which Urray’s forces were slowly overwhelmed by a flanking movement of the Gordon Cavalry.

Ruairidh and his two brothers were ultimately killed along with many more MacLennans in that segment of the battle. For the next 330 years, the Clan had no official Chief. During 250 of those years, due to pressures political and financial, many remaining Clansmen and their descendants were forced or chose to leave Scotland to seek survival in newly discovered lands. Many septs with names distorted by usage or altered for practical purposes, have resulted.

In 1969, Ronald George MacLennan declared his intention to claim the position of Chief. Due to the tireless energy of this vital, proud Scot, the Clan recognised his right to the position. Thirty years of tenacious searches and researches were rewarded with the Matriculation of Arms – the acknowledgment of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland – and his installation as Chief of the MacLennan Clan at a ceremony in Inverness in 1978, which was the first such ceremony to be performed for at least two centuries.

In 1989, Chief Ronald died of leukaemia and his then 12 year-old son and heir, Ruairidh Donald George MacLennan inherited the Chiefship of the Clan MacLennan, becoming Scotland’s youngest Clan Chief. Quietly proud of his heritage, Ruairidh knew throughout his childhood that he would one day become Clan Chief and has handled the position with dignity and due gravity, hosting his first Clan Gathering in Scotland in 1990 at the age of 13. Since then, he has visited Clan members and represented the Clan at Gatherings in Australia, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand and the United States of America.

The Chief’s Coat of Arms, with the motto “Dum Spiro Spero” (While I breathe I hope) includes two pipers because the Clan is noted for its piping. A number of MacLennans held the position of town piper in Inverness. Ruairidh continued this tradition becoming a proficient piper at an early age. He was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh and he became Pipe Major of the School band in 1994. He went on to study at the University of Aberdeen, joining the Aberdeen Universities Officer Training Corps Pipe Band in 1998. In 2001 he transferred to the 51st Highland Division Pipe Band (TA) which later became the 7th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

A keen hill walker, landscape photographer, mountain biker and kayaker, Ruairidh suitably based himself in the small village of Dores on the shores of Loch Ness, near the Highland capital, Inverness. After graduating with a Masters degree in Geography at the University of Aberdeen, he went on to a post-graduate Masters in Land Economy. He then trained with Strutt & Parker in Aberdeenshire, and with CKD Galbraith in Inverness. After working in rural estate and property management, he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor and worked as a District Valuer carrying out a range of property valuations and advice for the public sector throughout the Highlands & Islands of Scotland.

An updated version of our Chief’s book “The History of the Clan MacLennan” is among many other Clan Histories on our member-only Genealogy pages – Please click here.