Clan MacThomas

Clan MacThomas
Clan MacThomas
Crest badge
Clan member crest badge - Clan MacThomas.svg
Crest: A demi-cat-a-mountain rampant guardant Proper, grasping in his dexter paw a serpent Vert, langued Gules, its tail environing the sinister paw
Motto: Deo juvante invidiam superabo
Region Highland
District Perthshire

MacThomas of Finegand arms.svg
Andrew Patrick MacThomas of Finegand,[1]
The Chief of Clan MacThomas.[1]
Gaelic title MacThomaidh Mhor.[1]

Clan MacThomas is a Highland Scottish clan from the Glens of Eastern Perthshire. The clan takes its name from Thomaidh Mor (Big Tommy), who was the great-grandson of the William Mackintosh, 8th chief of the Clan Chattan.[2] The seat of the Clan MacThomas was at Finegand (Scottish Gaelic: Feith nan Ceann, meaning "burn of the heads") in Glenshee.[2]



Origins of the Clan

Tomaidh Mor lived in the 15th Century in the Badenoch Region of Scotland, south of Inverness. It was an inhospitable place and with the Clan Chattan becoming large and unmanageable (and not being heir to the Chattan Chiefship) Tomaidh Mor took his family and followers in an easterly direction across the Grampian Mountains before settling in Glenshee. There they flourished becoming an independent Clan in their own right, albeit retaining close ties with the Clan Chattan Confederation for defence reasons.[2]

16th Century

The 4th Chief, Robert MacThomaidh, lived at the Thom in Upper Glenshee. In 1587, the Clan MacThomas was mentioned in the Acts of the (Scottish) Parliament as one of the " Clannis that the Capitannes,Cheffis and Chiftanes quhom on they depend". Robert was killed by a band of highland marauders at the end of the 16C and as he only had a daughter, the Chiefship passed to his younger brother, John, the 5th Chief, who lived three miles south of the Thom at Finegand.[2]

17th Century, Clan Conflicts & Civil War

The MacThomases were successful cattle breeders and had acquired considerable influence and power at the beginning of the 17th Century. But it was turbulent time and marauding groups of robbers (caterans) caused continuous trouble. In 1602, the largest raid took place when two hundred caterans rounded up some 3000 head of cattle on MacThomas territory. The robbers were pursued and a furious fight took place known as the Battle of the Cairwell. Eventually the caterans were defeated but not before they had killed most the cattle out of sheer spite which caused some financial loss to the MacThomases.

At the time, the Scottish Parliament was dominated by the Covenanters, who supported Presbyterianism and Alexander, the 6th Chief, acted as a Covenanter Government agent. He died in 1637 and was succeeded by his son, John, the 7th Chief, who was to become a legend in his own lifetime and a Highland hero to this day. McComie Mor (as he is often known) put to flight some tax collectors in defence of a poor widow; he killed the Earl of Athol's champion swordsman; he slayed a man who insulted his wife; he fights his son in disguise to test his courage; he overcomes a ferocious bull and he is even familiar with the supernatural.

In 1644, John McComie of Finegand joined the Royalist Army and for the next two years served throughout Montrose's "glorious" campaign with six brilliant victories but after a crushing defeat at Philiphaugh, he returned to cattle raising in Glenshee. McComie Mor prospered to such an extend that he sold Finegand and purchased the Barony of Forter,a much larger estate over the hill in Glen Isla leaving behind hundreds of clansfolk in Glenshee.

Towards the end of his life, the 7th Chief was won over by the prosperity Oliver Cromwell brought to Scotland and started to co-operate with Cromwell's men. This was too much for his Royalist neighbours and when Charles II returned to the throne in 1660, his enemies saw an opportunity for revenge. A decree, lawsuit and a crippling fine together with a damaging feud with the Farquharsons over land which led to the murder of his eldest and fourth son at a skirmish at Drumgley near Forfar 1673 led to his death the following year. The MacThomases were at a low ebb and when Thomas,the 9th Chief, was forced to sell the Forter Estate the Clan started to drift apart.[2]

18th Century to date

The Chiefly family fled to Fife where they became successful farmers before moving back across the Tay to Dundee where the family, with interests in property and insurance, prospered as the population of Dundee doubled in the 18th Century. Other clansfolk moved to Aberdeenshire where one William McCombie of Tillyfour MP, became famous for breeding Aberdeen-Angus cattle. Patrick, the 16th Chief, became Provost of Dundee in 1847 purchasing the Aberlemno Estate in Angus. His son, George, became one of Scotland's youngest Sheriffs (Judges) in 1870. When he died George left his fortune (£4.3 million in today's terms) to St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, together with the Aberlemno Estate. His heir, Alfred,17th Chief, contested the will in a famous court case in Edinburgh in 1905 but lost to the shocked dismay of his family. In 1954, the Clan MacThomas Society was founded by Patrick, 18th Chief, who married a 3rd Cousin of Her Majesty the Queen. His son, Andrew, the 19th and current Chief, has dedicated much time to his clan with a result that you can not be in Glenshee without being aware of the historic connection with Clan MacThomas.[2]

Clan profile

"Ancient" version of the MacThomas Tartan
Clach Na Coileach or Cockstane. Meeting place of the Clan MacThomas. They built their first settlement at Finegand

Motto and current chief

  • Clan Motto: Deo juvante invidiam superabo (Latin) (With God's help, I will overcome envy).[2]
  • Clan Chief: Andrew MacThomas of Finegand, 19th Chief of Clan MacThomas.[2]

Clan Septs

Sept names of Clan MacThomas (recognized by the Clan MacThomas Society):

Note: Prefixes Mac and Mc are interchangeable.

List of clan chiefs

Chief Name Dates Notes
1st Thomas (Tomaidh Mor) 15th Century Seated at the Thom, East bank of the Shee Water.
2nd John MacThomaidh of the Thom Early 16th century Son or Grandson of Tomaidh Mor.
3rd Adam MacThomaidh of the Thom mid-16th century Son of John.
4th Robert MacThomaidh of the Thom Murdered 1600 The Thom was lost when his only daughter married a Farquharson.
5th John McComie of Finegand 1600–1610 Robert's brother; moved seat to Finegand.
6th Alexander McComie of Finegand[3] 1610–1637 Married a Farquaharson and gained more land at Benzian Mor in Glenshee.
7th John McComie (Iain Mor) 1637–1674 Alexander's son; known as "McComie Mor", greatly expanded territory and prestige of the clan; acquired lands and Barony of Forter in Glenisla (1651);[4][5] rose to support Montrose in 1644[6][7]
8th James McComie 1674–1676 3rd son of Iain Mor.
9th Thomas McComie 1676–1684 5th son of Iain Mor.
10th Angus Thomas 1684–1708 Aka "Mr. Angus" educated at St. Andrew University, Fife; 6th son of Iain Mor, anglicized surname, (dejure Chief).
11th Robert Thomas 1708–1740 Large estate at Cullarnie, later moved to Belhelvie; son of Angus, (dejure).
12th David Thomas of Belhelvie 1740–1751 Eldest son of Robert. Died Young.
13th Henry Thomas of Belhelvie 1751–1797 Second son of Robert. Continued to farm at Belhelvie.
14th William Thoms 1797–1843 Eldest son of Henry, became a merchant in St. Andrews, further Anglicized surname, died with no children.
15th Patrick Hunter MacThomas Thoms 1843–1870 Son of George Thoms (a son of Henry and half-brother of William). Provost of Dundee. Purchased estate of Aberlemno in Angus.
16th George MacThomas Thoms 1870–1903 Son of Patrick; Sheriff of Caithness, Orkney and Shetland.Bequethed his vast fortune and lands to St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.
17th Alfred MacThomas Thoms 1903–1958 Writer to the Signet.
18th Patrick MacThomas of Finegand 1958–1970 Great-grandnephew of Patrick, the first Chief known to be officially recognized by the Lyon Court since Thomas McComie in 1676. Army Officer. Married a 3rd cousin of Her Majesty the Queen.
19th Andrew MacThomas of Finegand (MacThomaidh Mhor) 1970-date Current Clan Chief, Retired Banker.

See also


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Andrew MacThomas of Finegand, The History of the Clan MacThomas, 2009, various pages
  3. ^ Latta MS. (viz., The Scottish Genealogist, Vol. XII N. 4, p. 91, n5)
  4. ^ A. M. Mackintosh; Mackintosh Families in Glenshee and Glenisla, 1916; pp. 48-51
  5. ^ W. M'Combie Smith; Memoir of the Families of M'Combie and Thoms, 1889; pp. 30-36
  6. ^ W. M'Combie Smith; op. cit., p.165; mentions a tradition that Montrose and Iain Mor became personal friends, and infers from the formers letter to the Tutor of Strowan, dated from Glenshee on 10th June 1646 (9 months after Philiphaugh), that "the Great Marquis" was then a guest at Finegand
  7. ^ A. M. Mackintosh; op. cit.; p. 52

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