Clan MacLaren has, along with MacGregor, Ferguson, and MacNab, occupied the lands in Balquhidder and Strathearn since the 12th Century, where they were the predominant clan. The name derived from Labhran (Laurin) of Ardveche who was hereditary Abbot of Achtus in Balquhidder in the 13th Century. The MacLarens signed the Ragman's Roll in 1296. In the 14th Century they became Crown tenants without actual ownership of the land. The MacLarens were a warlike clan with strong ties to the Stewarts of Appin. The Clan fought at Flodden in 1513, and suffered severely at Culloden with the Jacobites, on the side of Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1746. Sir Walter Scott visited Balquhidder on legal business, which he describes in the introduction to "Rob Roy". In "Redgauntlet" he describes the escape of MacLaren of Invernenty after Culloden.
In 1672, after many official records were lost, an Act of Parliament ordained that all nobility and gentry in Scotland register their armorial bearings with the Lord Lyon. Because of the earlier loss of the legal title to Clan lands, the then chiefly head of the Clan Labhran, and his successors, did not trouble to register his arms. The result was that the Clan became officially chiefless and landless pending compliance with the Act. Of course the Clan continued to recognize its own chiefs, and during the Jacobite rising came out as a Clan. In 1957, Donald MacLaren (father of the current Chief) finally complied with the Act by recording the ancient Arms in the Lord Lyon Register. The Chief also acquired title to a small part of the traditional Clan lands including the ancient gathering site of Creag an Tuirc) and the stigma of "chiefless and landless" was removed.
The heartland of the Clan MacLaren lies in and around the parish of Balquhidder, and the hills that slope north from Loch Voil and Loch Doine, which are known as the famous Braes o' Balquhidder. The parish is 18 miles long and 7 miles wide, and includes the west end of Loch Earn and most of Loch Lubnaig. The ruined Kirk of the village is dated 1631, and lies near the site of an even earlier church. The present church was built in 1855. Graves in the kirk yard date from 1685 and include that of Rob Roy MacGregor. The ancient rallying place of the Clan was Creag an Tuirc (The Boar's Rock), which is on a small hill overlooking the Kirk, and can be approached by a fairly steep path. In 1987 the Clan Society erected a cairn to commemorate the founding of the Society.
Another branch of the Clan was connected with Tiree and included the distinguished mathematician, Professor Colin MacLaren. This branch is now dormant.
Chief of Clan MacLaren
Clan MacLaren Societies
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