Shrouded in mystery, the origins of the Cameron clan are still unknown to this day, however, while there is not a definitive beginning for their name, there are a few theories concerning where it may have come from.
One states that the family is descended from a young son of Camchron, a King of Denmark, however, a more likely explanation is that the first clan chief, Donald Dubh, can trace his lineage back to either the Macgillonie family or the medieval family of Cameron of Ballegarno in Fife.
If the latter explanation is true, it is believed that Donald Dubh united a confederation of tribes which would go on to become Clan Cameron around the beginning of the 15th century and from here, the clan would eventually grow as it gained control of its now traditional heartlands at Lochiel, near Fort William.
Eventually, the clan would begin a fierce feud with the neighbouring MacKintosh clan, a fight that would continue in one form or another for around three centuries as the clan continued to dominate the area around Lochiel. They would also eventually expand south and a famous clansman, Taillear Dubh an Tuaigh, would settle at Dunoon and begin a branch of the ubiquitous Taylor family in the area which would remain loyal to the Camerons over the subsequent years.
By the 17th century, the clan was thriving and one of their greatest clan chiefs, Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, would become a prominent enemy of Parliamentarian forces. The popular chief would fight on the side of the King on many occasions and would be knighted in 1682 by the Duke of York in Edinburgh before fighting alongside the Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. The clan’s Jacobite sympathies would continue beyond Sir Ewen’s death in 1719 as his grandson, known as the ‘Gentle Lochiel’, welcomed Bonnie Prince Charlie when he landed in Scotland in 1745 before triggering the rebellion of that year by supporting the prince with the backing of his clan.
This decision to give such staunch support to the prince would, sadly, have a devastating effect on the Camerons as their lands were forfeited and their buildings burned following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746. It would take 30 years for the Camerons to be given back their estates and, after seeing the damage, Donald, the grandson of the gentle Lochiel, would instead decide to build a new home at Achnacarry. The building would be completed by the mid-19th century and stands on the banks of the River Arkaig, just under 10 miles from the clan’s original seat at Tor Castle, near Lochiel.
In more recent times, the clan has enjoyed a close relationship with the military and the Cameron Highlanders regiment with which they started. The current clan chief is Donald Angus Cameron of Lochiel. Donald serves as the Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire and is active in clan affairs including gatherings and clan society events.