Of Anglo-Norman origin, the Grahams first came north to Scotland with David I in the 12th century.
Originally given land at Dalkeith in Midlothian, an early member of the family, Sir John de Graham, would go on to become a companion in arms to the great patriot, William Wallace, in his struggle against England for independence. Sir John was a legendary warrior even in his own time and – after falling at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 – he would be honoured by a gravestone and effigy at Falkirk Old Parish Church which can still be visited today.
The family would then expand their influence across the country and acquired further lands at Mugdock, north of Glasgow, where they would build their clan seat and castle around 1370. They would also see their stature amongst the Scottish nobility grow in the subsequent years as the clan chief, Patrick Graham of Kincardine, was created a peer in 1451 with the title ‘Lord of Graham’ and the family were promoted to Earls of Montrose only two generations later.
By the 17th century, the family’s reputation and influence had increased massively and they were classed as one of the wealthiest families in Scotland thanks to their extensive lands and powerful titles. This would, however, lead to them becoming heavily involved in conflicts and this would reach its zenith in the 1640s, when James Graham, the 5th Earl, would become captain-general of King Charles’ army in Scotland as he fought against the covenanters. James would ultimately lose this war and was forced to flee to Norway after the King was eventually executed under the orders of Oliver Cromwell. Sadly for the Earl, he would soon face the same fate as he was captured and killed after returning to fight in the name of Charles II.
The Grahams would eventually recover from the execution of their most prominent chef and were paid back by the Stuart family for their efforts after the restoration as the chiefs were later promoted to the highest rank of the peerage in 1707.
Today, the Graham name remains well known throughout Scotland and the family seat of the clan is located at Buchanan Castle in Stirlingshire. The current clan chief is James Graham, 8th Duke of Montrose.