History of Clan Lamont
Clan Lamont is one of the oldest of Scottish clans, with an oral tradition of descent stretching back
to the Kings of Ireland. The name is derived from a chief in the 13th century, Sir Laumon, whose
charter granting lands to the Paisley Abby, is still in existence. Few clans can document their
existence at such an early date. Although the name comes from the 13th century chief, the clan
is much older, being known as MacKerracher before Sir Laumon’s time. Sir Walter Scott refers to
him in Antiquary as “Lamon mor “, or the Great Lamont in English. Sir Laumon’s mother is believed
to have been a daughter of the great Somerled, ancestor of the MacDonalds. Powerful when
Scotland was being shaped into a nation, and still a notable clan for some six centuries afterwards.
The rugged terrain of the Cowal peninsula is the ancestral homeland of Clan Lamont. Tradition
ascribes to a chief of the clan the impressive title of ‘Great Lamont of All Cowal’, but in what might
be termed historic times, the northern boundary of the Lamont lands has been a line from the Holy
Loch by Glendaruel to Kilfinan on Loch Fyne. Along the eastern shore of Loch Gilp, an inlet of Loch
Fyne, were other lands of the Lamonts. Cowal, takes its name from Comgall, king of Dalriada and
progenitor of one of the four main tribes of that early western kingdom On three sides its shores
are washed by the waters of the Firth of Clyde, the Kyles of Bute and Loch Fyne. while Loch Riddon,
Loch Striven, the Holy Loch and Loch Goil run into its interior. To the north it is almost sealed off by
mountains. Cowal still retains the wild beauty of lonely places much as they were in days when the
clans settled their differences with blood-shed tradition, supported by a genealogical work of 1682 found in Inveraray Castle, maintains
that a son of Sir Laumaon, had to flee Cowal as a result of a murder; and founded the Lyons of Glamis. He took the name of Lyon from
the Lamont arms, and chose as his arms, the reverse of the Lamonts, a blue lion on a silver field. As the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth,
is a Lyon of Glamis, if this tradition is correct, the Queen Elizabeth II is a Lamont on her mothers side!
As detached from the mainstream of Scottish history as their native hills are from the surrounding country, Lamonts got involved in events
which stirred other Highland clans. Twice they sallied forth in force: first to oppose a claimant to the throne and secondly to help a king
who was to lose his head. Both campaigns cost them dear.
In the early 1300s, came a great down turn in the Clan’s fortunes. Laumon’s grandson, Sir John, supported the MacDougalls of Lorne
against Robert the Bruce. The Lamonts of Ardlamont, however, who held their land as vassals of the High Steward in Bute, may have
fought in Bruce’s bodyguard at Bannockburn.
The Battle of Bannockburn 1314 | An English army, led by Edward II, marching to relieve Stirling Castle, were met by King Robert the
Bruce at Bannock Burn, near Stirling. The over-confident English army was soundly defeated, losing 3/4,000 men, Scottish casualties were
light. King Edward II escaped back to England.
When Bruce was secure on the Scottish throne the Lamont Chief suffered with the House of Lorne and the
Clan’s land was claimed by the king’s loyal supporter, Campbell, Black Knight of Lochawe. By the end of the
14th century a great deal of the original territory of the clan had been lost ; and thus began a feud between
the Lamonts and the Campbells which continued on and off for centuries in spite of considerable
Toward Castle, the seat of the Lamont Chiefs, was built in the 14th-15th centuries. Mary, Queen of Scots
spent a night there in 1563 during the lifetime of John, 10th chief, who was the son-in-law of the Earl of
Argyll. A century later, it was another Campbell Earl of Argyll, who was to be responsible for the destruction
of Toward Castle.
In the 17th century wars of Montrose, Sir John, 14th chief. who had been knighted by King
Charles, after much shilly-shallying, joined Argyll’s Covenanting army and in the inglorious rout
of that force at Inverlochy he and his brother were taken prisoner. He then threw in his lot with
Montrose the Royalist general. Archibald, the chiefs brother, with Colkitto’s fighting Irish, crossed
Loch Long in boats provided by the Lamonts and landed at the Point of Strone.
After defeating a Campbell force in the heights above the point the Royalist army mustered at
Toward and then harried far and wide in the Campbell lands. The Lamonts had their share in this
killing and plundering particularly in North Cowal, and they attacked the old tower of Kilmun and
the bishop’s house in Dunoon. Dunoon is a place of grim memory for the Lamonts. There the
Campbells carried out one of the massacres which stain their clan’s history. In 1646 the
Campbells made a concentrated attack on the Lamont castles of Toward and Ascog, and, when
the garrisons surrendered under written guarantee of liberty, the Campbells ignored the terms of
capitulation. The survivors of the defenders were carried in boats to Dunoon and in the church
were sentenced to death. About 100 were shot or stabbed to death and another 36 of ‘the special
gentlemen’ of the Lamonts were hanged from a tree in the churchyard and dead and dying were
buried in pits. The Chief and his close kin were hustled away to Inveraray, where some were
hanged The Chief and his brothers being kept prisoner for five years. It was 16 years before the
ringleaders of the massacre were brought to justice, and Sir Colin Campbell was beheaded.
The Clan Lamont Society in 1909 raised a monument on the spot where so many met their deaths.
After 1646, the much reduced Clan Lamont had a fairly peaceful history, finally having
the good sense or luck to not get involved with any more losing causes. We stayed out
of both the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite uprisings. This may have been due to the fact that
they were now pretty well surrounded by Campbells, who always sided with the English
government (To their great profit). With the destruction of the Clan system in 1745,
the structure of Highland society was changed for all time. When the power of the
Chiefs was eliminated, so was their need for dedicated clansmen to protect and expand
the clan lands. The result of this, in time, was the infamous Highland clearances;
where chiefs cleared the land of crofters, and substituted the more profitable sheep.
As was the case with the Lamonts, some chiefs tended to sell off the clan lands instead
of shifting to sheep. Sadly, as a result of this policy, there are now none of the
ancestral lands in Lamont hands. Starting very early, even before 1600, Lamonts have
tended to disperse, and are now one of the most widespread of clans.
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