Clan Trotter

Clan Trotter

Clan Trotter is a Lowland Scottish clan. Several distinguished families of this name include the Trotters of Charterhall, of Catchelraw, of Prentannan and of Mortonhall.



Origins of the clan

The name of Trotter is said to derive from the French, ‘trotier’, a ‘runner’ or ‘messenger’. One legend says that this name was given to a brother of Lord Gifford for delivering a message to King James III of Scotland with great speed. The Borders clan bearing this name was headed by the Trotters of Prentannan in Berwickshire, who followed the Clan Home on their many forays across the border.

The name Trotter Trottman, or Trottier are also found to be of English descent. As an occupational name, 'the trotter' i.e. a messenger, one who trotted back and forth with messages. This name is found in many ancient manuscripts of England from the 16th century onwards. These may have been Trotters who left Scotland and settled in England.

The name is also common in Northumberland and Durham. The Trotters of Mortonhall, which lies on the outskirts of Edinburgh, claim to have held their lands as far back as the reign of King Robert II of Scotland. William Trotter of Catchelraw was one of the knights charged with keeping the peace on the Borders under royal warrants of 1437 and 1450. One of his grandsons was treasurer of the city of Edinburgh.

16th century & Anglo-Scottish Wars

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars of the 16th century the Clan Trotter fought at the Battle of Flodden Field against the English in 1513, where their chief was killed.

17th century & civil war

During the Civil War the Trotters of Mortonhall were staunch adherents of King Charles I, and in 1645 were fined for assisting the royalist commander James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose. Dr John Trotter was a surgeon at Tynron in Dumfries who followed his family’s Jacobite sympathies, treating and concealing wounded Scots soldiers retreating from England.

During the latter half of the 17th century, after the Civil War the Clan Trotter fought in support of the early Jacobite risings led by John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee. The Clan Trotter fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 where they were victorious, led by a chief who descended directly from the chief killed at Flodden in 1513.

18th to 19th centuries

The grandson of the chief who fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie was the Reverend Robert Trotter, was a distinguished academic who produced a work on the life of Christ and the Apostles which is still considered standard reading in many theology colleges. Robert Trotter of Bush was Postmaster General for Scotland. He died in 1807. Thomas Trotter of Mortonhall was killed serving with his squadron of Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Clan chief

Alexander Richard Trotter of Mortonhall, and 5th of Charterhall, and chief of the Name and Arms of Trotter, JP, DL.[1]

Clan profile

  • Arms: Quarterly, 1st & 4th, Argent, a fess Gules between three mullets in chief Sable and a crescent in base Azure; 2nd & 3rd, Argent, a chevron between three boars’ heads couped Sable.
  • Crest: A knight in armour Proper, holding his courser Argent caparisoned Gules.
  • Motto: In promptu (In readiness).
  • Supporters: Dexter, a lion rampant Gules, armed and langued Azure; sinister, a horse Argent maned and hoofed Or.

See also


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