The Clan Chisholm
Feros Ferio - 'I am fierce with the fierce'
BRIEF HISTORY - It is most likely that the first de Chesholme was one of the knights of William the Conqueror, arriving in England in1066. Scottish society, in the 150 years following the Norman conquest was a crucible in which two dynamic cultures, Celtic and Anglo-Norman were increasingly intermingled. Out of this the fiercely independent Scots character was formed. David I was the youngest of the three sons of Malcolm Canmore and Saint Margaret - the sister of Edgar Atheling - grew up at the Norman court, where his sister had married Henry I. David had a policy of gaining the allegiance of Norman knights by giving them tenancies in areas under his jurisdiction. According to clan tradition one of these knights was de Chesholme. By the end of the thirteenth century the de Chesholmes were prominent in David’s early territories around Roxburgh and Berwick.
By the early fourteenth century Alexander de Chesholme was called ‘Lord of Chesholme in Roxburgh and Paxtoun in Berwickshire. His son married the daughter of another border laird, Sir Robert Lauder of the Bass. In 1329 Sir Robert became Justiciar of the North and Constable of the royal stronghold, Castle Urquart, and acquitted himself so well he was given lands near Elgin and Nairn. Robert Chisholm’s son inherited these lands from his wife.
Through successive marriages tenure of Erchless, Lovat ( which later passed to the Frasers by marriage), Beauly, Struy, and Crochail in Strathglass were added to the patrimony of the Chisholm. A clan legend states that the lands in Strathglass were acquired around 1400. Although many chiefs lived at Erchless, they took their title from Comar in Strathglass which they held outright - Erchless remaining a tenancy till much later. On the 13th March 1538 James the V of Scotland confirmed the land grant of Knockfin, Comarmore, Easter and Wester InverCannich, the two Breakachies and the woods and forests of Affric Coulavie and Breanulich to John Chisholm - the new barony of Comarmore!
SEE TODAY - Close to where the road from Struy crosses the river and meets the Eskadale road there is a standing memorial stone - a rough stone slab, about 6’ high, with an inscription which the passer by may not be able to make out, and if he does he may not be much the wiser. The stone stands where William Chisholm said goodbye to his wife, Christine Ferguson, before Culloden. He was standard bearer to the Chisholm of Chisholm. According to local lore his widow hoped he would come back until she recognised her husband’s old coat on a travelling tinker. She composed the song “Mo Run Geal Og” (Cumha Uilleim Siosail) - ”My Fair Young Beloved” (A Lament for William Chisholm), a composition of great emotional depth which is a classic of it’s period.
In the Chisholm graveyard, close to Erchless Castle you will find some very fine carved crosses and gravestones. Watch out for the large Celtic carved crosses, the obelisk and the numerous carvings of the Chisholm crest. At the village of Cannich if you head up the road towards Mullardoch you will find a seat placed in memory of Wilfrid G. Medlam, who as a member did so much for the Clan Chisholm Society society. It sits next to another Chisholm Stone that overlooks Comar Lodge, which was built for a Chisholm in 1740.
For more information on the Clan Chisholm connection please download the Chisholm Trail leaflet.