name MacRae may be derived from the Gaelic "mac rath"
meaning "son of Grace" and is found initially around
Beauly, north of Inverness, in the 12/13th centuries before
moving to Wester Ross in the 14th century. Staunch allies
of the MacKenzies, they looked after the MacKenzie castle
of Eilean Donan. At one time they were called "MacKenzie's
shirt of mail" and they were well known for their fighting
qualities. When the MacDonald Lord of the Isles attempted
to regain his title in 1539, he besieged Eilean Donan Castle
and a MacRae is reputed to have killed him with an arrow.
The MacRaes benefitted from the good fortune of the MacKenzies
and became hereditary constables of Eilean Donan. The castle
was restored by a MacRae descendant in the 1930s and may now
be the most photographed castle in Scotland.
In the 17th century Duncan MacRae became known as a writer
of Gaelic poetry and compiled an anthology of Gaelic verse
known as the Fernaig Manuscript. Duncan also became known
as "Duncan of the Silver Cups" because of his magnificent
The MacRaes were well to the fore supporting the Jacobites
at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715. In 1719, the chief of
the Clan MacKenzie, the Earl of Seaforth, landed at Eilean
Donan with a small force of Spaniards in support of the Jacobite
"Old Pretender". But a government naval force arrived
and bombarded and destroyed the castle. Perhaps as result
of these earlier experiences, only individual clansmen rose
in support of Charles Edward Stewart in 1745.
When the Earl of Seaforth raised the 78th Seaforth Highlanders
in 1778, so many of the regiment were MacRaes that it became
known as "the MacRaes."
In the Lowlands, the name was sometimes contracted to Reith
- Lord Reith was the famous general manager of the BBC in
its early days. He established the standards and ethos of
The MacRae clan motto is "Fortitudine" which means
Surnames regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the MacRae clan
include Macara, MacCraw, MacCreath, MacGrath, Macra, Macrach,
MacRaith, MacRath, Raith.
Information courtesy of RampantScotland.com
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