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My Name is MacRory, MacRauri, MacGrory, Wright ...
Am I a MacLaren?

taken from the CMSNA Brochure

The objective of this brochure is (1) to discuss eligibility for membership in the Clan MacLaren Society of North America, (2) to provide some information on variability in Scottish names, and (3) to present a brief statement about how the names MacRory, MacRuari, MacGrory, McRoy, and Wright are related to Clan MacLaren.

Much of this information is from the book The MacLaren, A History of Clan Labhran by Margaret MacLaren of MacLaren, 2nd edition, 1984. Margaret is the mother of our current Chief and did a monumental research of Clan and Scottish records. This book is probably the best source of information regarding variability in and derivation of names associated with Clan MacLaren.


Chief Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Acheskine stated that an individual is automatically a member of Clan MacLaren by birth, marriage, or adoption. He further stated that one must choose to be a member of one of the three Clan MacLaren Societies established to support Clan MacLaren.

The Constitution of the Clan MacLaren Society (in Scotland) was adopted at a special meeting of the Society held on Thursday, October 11th 1973. In the original Constitution, eligibility for membership was defined under two categories. They were:

(a) Persons bearing or connected with the name MacLaren or MacLaurin in any of its spellings by birth, marriage, or descent. Also listed some of the main patronymic variations of Labhruinn.

(b) Persons bearing or connected with the name of any sept of the Clan.

Included are names derived from the patronymic Patrick (this applies equally to Clan Lamont), to be distinguished by knowledge of background history and origins of the family concerned (see the brochure on MacPatrick/Patterson):

Patterson, Paterson, MacPatrick, MacPhate, MacPhater, MacFater, MacFeat, etc.

Also included are names derived from Clan Ruari (which applies equally to Clan Ranald), to be distinguished by knowledge of background history and origins of the family concerned:

MacRory, MacRuari, MacGrory, etc.


Margaret MacLaren of MacLaren discussed Patronymics, Surnames, By-Names, Sept names, and the derivation of these various names associated with Clan MacLaren.

The concept of a By-Name was used and discussed by Frank Adams in his book The Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands, 3rd Ed., 1934.


The word Sept means a branch or division. In Scotland the term Sept was originally used to identify a small group affiliated with a clan and acknowledging the authority of the chief. Today, especially in America, the term Sept has a much looser meaning. It is often used to designate "members of a Clan" who bear a variety of the primary surnames which are in some way linked with a specific Clan.

It appears that the most desirable terminology for describing the array of names associated with Clan MacLaren is "variable or variant" spellings of the names MacLaren or Labhram.

The origins of Sept names may be divided into the following groups:

1. Corruptions and anglicized versions of the clan name.

2. By-names which were derived (a) from a patronymic which became the surname of a family of branch of the clan in the same way as the name of the eponymous became the surname of the whole clan; (b) from a hereditary profession or trade; (c) from a personal characteristic or peculiarity usually physical; or (d) from the name of the part of the clan territory occupied by the family in question.

3. Names of families related to the chief by marriage and accepting his authority.

4. Names of smaller clans or families unrelated by blood or marriage but bound to the clan by bonds of manrent.


Margaret MacLaren of MacLaren stated "The second largest Sept of Clan MacLaren is MacRory (MacRory, MacRuer, MacRury, MacRurie, MacGrory).

Roderick or Ruari was an unusual name among the MacLarens, and was perhaps derived from a marriage link with the famous Clan Ruari, the descendants of Ruari, the second son of Ranald, second son of Somerled, first Lord of the Isles, who flourished about the middle of the 12th century (he was killed in 1164) and was the progenitor of Clan Donald. The original lands of Clan Ruari were in Bute and after the Battle of Largs (1263), when the allegiance of all the Western Isles was transferred from the Norwegian to the Scottish Crown, a considerable rearrangement of the possessions of Somerled's descendants took place. As a result Clan Ruari lost Bute but was compensated by a grant of lands in the North Isles, namely Uist, Barra, Eigg, and Rum, and the lordship of Garmoran.

Ruari, the progenitor of Clan Ruari, had two sons, Dugall and Allan. Dugall died without male issue and was succeeded by his brother Allan who had an only son, Ruari. In 1325 Ruari was forfeited for treason (he supported Edward Baliol) but in 1344 his only son, Ranald, who had succeeded to the chiefship, was pardoned and confirmed in his possessions.

Two years later Ranald was assassinated in Perth by the Earl of Ross and the MacRuari lands went to his sister Amy, the wife of John, chief of Clan Donald, who then assumed the title of "Lord of the Isles". John had three sons by Amy MacRuari but later divorced her and married the daughter of Robert, High Steward of Scotland (afterwards Robert III) by whom he had a further three sons. After his father-in-law became king, he obtained a royal charter to the MacRuari lands with succession to the sons of his second marriage. Of the sons of the first marriage, John, the eldest, predeceased his father. Godfrey or Gorrie, the second son resisted the disposition of his mother's lands but Ranald, the third son, was placated by the grant of a part of these lands to be held by the Lord of the Isles and his heirs. On Ranald's death, Godfrey dispossessed his nephews, and the Clan Ruari destroyed itself in feuds between Siol Gorrie and Clan Ranald.

The MacRuari emblem was the "Black Galley of the Isles" and the black galley was added by the MacLaren chiefs to the ancestral chevrons of Strathearn on their own shield (see next column). It seems likely from the heraldry of Clan MacLaren and from the fact that MacRory is an important sept name of the Clan, that there was a marriage between the chiefly houses of Clan Labhran and Clan Ruari (though no evidence has so far come to light to show when it took place), and that with the disintegration of Clan Ruari, some of its members transferred their allegiance to Clan Labhran.

The following MacRories appear in the Bond of 1573: Johne Dow M'Rorie, James Makrorie, Johne M'Patrik V'Rorie, Laurence M'Patrik V'Rorie, and Malcum his brother. According to tradition at least one family of them left Balquhidder towards the end of the century and settled in or near Perth but some families stayed. As late as 1747 the Balquhidder Register of Baptisms records the baptism of a child to a MacLaren "alias McRorie" -- a perfect example of the double surname.


Margaret MacLaren suggested that none of the Sept names traditionally assigned to Clan Labhran are derived from a profession or trade. However, she later states "there were several families of McIntyres ( anglice Wright) who settled in Balquhidder. The rental for 1509 for the crown lands of Balquhidder show the following McIntyres were tenants at the western end of the Glen: Gillemore in Monachyl, Donald in Invercarnaig, and Duncan in Monachyl Tuarach. The following year Donald, John, Gilbert, and Duncan McIntyre were tenants in Invenenty. There is of course a Clan McIntyre and a member of that Clan may have settled in Balquhidder, but it seems more probable that these MacIntyres were MacLarens, distinguished by a professional by-name. They fought with the MacLaren contingent under Steward of Appin in the '45. MacIntyres or Wrights whose origin can be traced to Balquhidder may be regarded as a sept of Clan Labhran.


If you are a MacRory, MacRuari, MacGrory, McRoy, or Wright and are of Scots descent, you are eligible to join the Clan MacLaren Society of North America. To join, drop by the Clan MacLaren tent at a Highland Games, write the membership secretary, download an application from the "Membership Information" page on this site, or join on-line through the "Membership Information" page. Don't forget -- when you join, please provide a copy of your genealogy so we can add to our records.

Other Clan MacLaren Family and Sept Names

Copyright 2004 Clan MacLaren Society of North America, Ltd.

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