Hailing from the northeast of Scotland, the Forbes Clan were traditionally associated with lands stretching from the mountain ranges of Aberdeenshire to the coast of Banff and Buchan.
Once in control of over 150 houses along the banks of the River Don, their crown jewel remains Castle Forbes, a 19th-century house built to serve as their grand seat. It is still occupied by the descendants of the original owner of the lands, Duncan Forbes, and stands in the area where he was first granted control in 1271.
Slowly consolidating their power in the aftermath of Duncan’s death, the clan would build their reputation in Aberdeenshire throughout the 14th century and would then receive recognition at a national level in the 1440s when Alexander Forbes was elevated to the peerage and took his seat in parliament. They would continue to grow in the subsequent years, before a long and bitter struggle with the Gordon Clan would reach its climax in the 1520s with a number of prominent clan members murdered on both sides before the Master of Forbes was wrongly executed for plotting to execute the King., a crime he was accused of by the Gordons.
Quickly having the Master of Forbes’ conviction overturned, the family would return to favour with the monarchy but their relationship with the Gordons would be irrepairable as continued lawlessness in Aberdeenshire became a staple part of daily life in the 16th century. The feud would be further exacerbated by the reformation as the Gordons remained Catholic and the Forbeses decided to switch to Protestantism, creating serious divides in the area. The majority of other clans would align themselves with one of the families with friction coming to a head in 1571 as two battles were fought at Tillieangus and Craibstone. Sadly for the Forbeses, their Lord’s seat at Druminnor would be plundered and twenty-seven clan members massacred before the fighting was finally brought to an end by an Act of Parliament, as the families were finally forced to put down their arms. Sadly, despite the fighting finally being over, the struggle between themselves and the Gordons had left the Forbes Clan in a serious amount of debt. To combat this loss of money, the family would be required to sell much of their land, however, they would manage to keep the majority of their important assets.
Through this turmoil, the clan would also produce a number of gifted members of the millitary. One particularly notable member would be James Ochoncar, seventeenth Lord Forbes. Starting as an officer in the Coldstrean regiment, he would rise to the rank of general and would command the Cork and eastern districts of Ireland. Such was the impact he made there, he would be able to fund the building of Castle Forbes, the clan’s impressive seat in Aberdeenshrire. It would be James himself who would design the layout of the estate as he went a long was to repairing the family’s reputation.Today, the castle remains home to his great-great-great-grandson. The current chief of the clan is Malcolm, twenty-thrid Lord Forbes, who lives nearby at Balforbes on the southern banks of the River Don.