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Clan Forbes

☀☀☀ Officially registered clan, with Clan Chief, registered with the Lord Lyon Court.

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  • Crest/Badge
  • Gaelic Name: Foirbeis
  • Motto: Grace me Guide
  • Origin of Tartan:
  • Name Variations:
  • Lands Aberdeenshire
  • Seat: Castle Forbes was built in 1815 on the land claimed by Oconachar, overlooking the Don.
  • Clan Chief: Nigel Ivan Forbes, 23rd Lord Forbes


Origins of the name

Forbes is a parish in the Aberdeenshire area. Tradition tells that the 'Braes o’ Forbes' were once uninhabitable because of bears living in the area. Oconachar, founder of the clan, killed the bears and claimed the land as ‘first occupier’. The present chief still holds part of the Lordship of these Forbes lands.

Historical references

In 1271, Duncan de Forbes (chief at the time), obtained a charter from Alexander III for the land, confirming his claim. In the fourteenth century John de Forbes of the Black Lip had four sons with whom the family expanded widely and prosperously. William began the Pitsligo line, John was progenitor of the branch of Polquhoun and Alistair of Brux was ancestor of extensions in Skellater and Inverernan.

Alexander, the eldest of the brothers, fought in the 1411 Battle of Harlaw against the invaders from the Isles, led by Donald. He was created Lord Forbes by James I around 1444. To this day the Lordship is regarded as Scotland’s premier. His own three sons would extend the family with the branches of Corsindae and Monymusk, Corse, and later the Baronets of Craigievar.

Forbes people

  • Alexander de Forbes , 1st Lord Forbes (c.1380-1448), feudal baron of Forbes, was a Scottish peer who fought at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411
  • "Black Arthur" Forbes, the 6th Lord Forbes's youngest son. He was killed at The Battle of Tillieangus 10 October 1571
  • During the 1715 rebellion, Duncan Forbes of Culloden, President of the Court of Session, opposed the Jacobite cause. He is remembered for his efforts to win the rebels better treatment from their captors. Speaking out for the people after Culloden, Butcher Cumberland responded with the sneer, 'that old woman talked to me about humanity.' A memorial to Duncan Forbes stands in the Parliament Hall at Edinburgh.

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References, Sources and Further Reading