MacTavish History

Carved footprint at Dunadd Hillfort, thought to have been part of the Dal Riata's coronation ritual. This is the land of the early MacTavish.

Carved footprint at Dunadd Hillfort, thought to have been part of the Dal Riata’s coronation ritual. This is the land of the early MacTavish.

The Seannachie’s Section – History

These Seannachie pages are copyrighted by Patrick L. Thompson and Clan MacTavish, with the exception of given sources. They may not be copied or stored in any other format or media.

Sean”na*chie\,  SHAWN-NA-KEE, n. [Gaelic:  seanachaidh.]
-In ancient Scotland a seannachie was the servant of the chief who preserved and repeated the legends, lore, traditions and facts attributable to the tribe or clan, and one who maintained the genealogies of the families. With him resided the complete history of the clan. He was so respected that during battle, even the opposing warriors would pass their swords over his head. Killing a seannachie from another clan was considered taboo, although it did happen from time to time.
-He also officiated at the installment of the new chief of his clan, reciting the lineage of the Chiefly family from the ancient past to present chief.The office of seannachie within most clans went dormant shortly after the last Jacobite rebellion (1745-46), but many clan chiefs revived the ancient office foreseeing that clan history was still in need of preservation. The seannachie of old was an office within the household of his chief, and he may have been closely related to the chiefly family, perhaps a brother, cousin, nephew or uncle. The office was commonly hereditary, passing from one family member to another, so the chronicler of the clan’s legacy would train his successor, thus assuring that all he knew was preserved for the next generation.Today, a seannachie serves much the same purpose as his ancient predecessor, acting as the clan historian, researcher and archivist, preserving the historical account of the clan and chiefly family, or other families within the clan. With the advent of computers, and data storage and retrieval systems, the seannachie’s task is a much easier one.

A Note to the surfers of this site.
-The Internet is a constantly misused media, with many pages filled with uniformed, and blatantly incorrect information. The concept of the internet is to provide good solid information, and not millions of pages of diatribe or arguments. When coming across argumentive pages that contradict information, actually look for authoritative statements made by reputable Historians, Literary ancient annals, organizations of a legal stature, or Legal authorities themselves. Correct information is usually documented from other reliable sources, and you should be able to find other URLs or confirmed references which back-up claims which are made. The Internet has billions of web pages. Make sure you are getting your information from credible web sites, ones that provide provable reference sources from which the information is gleaned. If a site or a person claims something is NOT so, there MUST BE ABUNDANT SOURCES TO PROVE THAT CLAIM.  If abundant, proven sources do not exist, that information is false. 
 —There are sites that provide incredibly bad diatribe, argumentative and false information. Many sites fit that description. Be sure that you are an informed Internet surfer.

These Seannachie pages are copyrighted with the exception of given sources.

The History of Clan MacTavish Names

The following two PDF links examine the family names and variations associated with Clan MacTavish


The History of Clan MacTavish

The ancient Highland Clan MacTavish was legally restored to its standing in 1997 with the ascension of the current chief’s father, E.S. Dugald MacTavish of Dunardry, being formally recognized by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1997, as “Chief of the Name and Arms of MacTavish”, and “Chief of the Clan MacTavish”, declared in the official Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, Volume 82, Folio 36, HM New Register House, Edinburgh, Scotland. Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon King of Arms, declared in the 1950s that the MacTavish Chiefship is one of the oldest in Scotland. Since Sir Thomas declared this as fact, other clan organizations have sought to make Clan MacTavish and its septs part of themselves, which is impossible.

One might  encounter the word subclan or sub-clan in some writings. This is a very modern term which has been manufactured in an attempt to muddle the understanding of what a clan truly is. A clan is a distinct group of people, often sharing a bloodline, and descended from a specific person or group of persons, and at its head is one leader, the chief of the clan. Therefore, there can be no such thing as a sub-clan, for such would entail that there was no chief of the sub-clan. Where a Chief anciently existed, and the bloodline is lost, and no present chief exists, the clan is considered dormant, and has no right to wear their former chief’s crest badge. Why? because the Chief is the head, and the crest badge in LAW his or her personal property. He or she grants his members the right to wear his/her badge, and if there is no chief, there is no one to grant that authority.

The chiefship of the Clan MacTavish has been meticulously traced in ancient records, and does not evolve from any other sources, bloodline, or kinship, except that which is known from those exact records. Clan MacTavish is a DISTINCT CLAN, it is not part of any other clan, and it never was. For a direct male linage of the chiefly line see below: Royal Pedigree-Cenel nDuach and The MacTavish Chiefs

The prior and last recorded chief of the MacTavishes was William MacTavish (29 March 1815 – 23 July 1870), Hudson’s Bay Company Governor of Assiniboia and Prince Rupert’s Land (Manitoba), Canada, who is declared heir to his father in The Retours of Services of Heirs records on 8 March, 1858. The Matriculation of William’s grandfather, Lachlan MacTavish of Dunardry, occurred in 1793. Lachlan being the last matriculated chief of the MacTavishes until 1997, posing a dormancy of the Clan MacTavish which lasted just over 200 years. With this dormancy some other clans claimed the whole of Clan MacTavish and associated names as their own, causing much confusion among clan members as to where their origin and loyalty might be placed.

As of 1997 The Clan MacTavish is officially resurrected, and its ancient status as a Pictish people has been confirmed by exhaustive research, which has been published in an insightful and enlightening book, titled, History of Clan MacTavish.

The current and 27th Chief of Clan MacTavish, Steven Edward Dugald MacTavish of Dunardry, as well as the supporting members of the clan, invite the World community of MacTavishes, Thomsons, Thompsons, and their septs to support and celebrate their common heritage. There is a renewed sense of pride and dignity among the MacTavishes for we are members of a very ancient race.

The Honorable Clan MacTavish was brought out of a 200-year dormancy through the matriculation of the late Chief Dugald MacTavish of Dunardry in 1997 via formal affirmation by the Court of Lord Lyon.

Clan MacTavish is an ancient Highland Clan with origins in the period known as the high middle ages.  Having roots that trace back to the early middle age royal families of Ireland and the Dal Riada settlements in the Pictish world that would become known as the Coastal Highlands of Western Scotland.

The MacTavish families share a heritage rich in the early history of the Irish and Scottish Clans, lands, and migrations. Many associated families are enjoying anew or have discovered their Scottish heritage in the fellowship offered through our Clan activities.

We are fortunate to enjoy the services of our Clan Chief’s Seannachie (Historian), Patrick Thompson, to assist our understanding and appreciation of MacTavish History

Chief’s History Documentation

The Bloodline provided is of a maternal nature and not the direct male line. Much of the descent in The Bloodline of MacTavish Chiefs is based on mythical texts. Be that as it may, The MacTavishes share a connection with Clan Campbell, and were for many generations Followers of the Earls and Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell.

The exhaustively researched, direct Male lineage of the MacTavish Chiefs is provided separately in a PDF, Royal Pedigree-Cenel nDuach and The MacTavish Chiefs, below, found in the book “History of Clan MacTavish“. It was developed and verified from a variety of Irish and Scottish historical texts. This lineage may be found at HM New Register House, Edinburgh, Scotland.

(Links to Historical Documents are in PDF Format)

Celtic Kings Documentation

(Links To Historical Records are in PDF Format)

NEW 2017 Old Map of Knapdale (Knapdalia), Argyllshire pdf, showing the Old MacTavish Castle Keep of Dunardry.

Knapdalia Map 1654 (pdf)


MacTavish Migration Map

Click map to view

MacTavish Migration Map

“Sons of Steven” Migration Map

Click map to view
Sons of Steven Migration Map



Understanding MacTavish and Thomson Heraldry (pdf)

NEW 2017 The Commons of Argyll, by Duncan C. MacTavish, 1935

The Commons of Argyll_by DC MacTavish (pdf)   http://The Commons of Argyll, DC MacTavish, 1935

NEW 2017 An Account of the Depredations committed on Clan Campbell and its Followers. (pdf)