Grant Histories: Overview

Grant Histories
Monymusk Text
Age of the Monymusk Text
Cromdale Text
Tullochgorm Text
Shaw Text
Baronage Text

Other Pages
Complete list of Chiefs
The Name Grant
Grant Arms
Grant Family Trees
Chief`s Ancestral Lines
The Cherokee Connection
The DNA Project
The Septs

Fraser/Norman Critique I
Fraser/Norman Critique II

Over the centuries the story of the Grants has been told and retold in many versions - all with their errors. Here is as complete a list as we can muster:

Old Books

a. The Monymusk Text (c1710 [MT]: So called because it was printed up at the behest of Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk in 1876 under the title "Ane Account of the Rise and offspring of the name of Grant". Close analysis shows that an early manuscript version of this text was produced before 1622, with updates being incorporated whenever a fresh copy was made. The edition from which the printed copy was made seems to have been made between 1705 and 1713 when a final page appears to have been added to bring it up to date. Our conclusion is that this edition may well have been done at the behest of Captain James Grant of Wester Elchies, a 1714 portrait of whom, in full armour, was in Castle Grant for a long time.

b. The Cromdale Text (1729) [CT]: So called because it was written by Rev James Chapman, the minister at Cromdale. He finished it around 1729, but it was first published, only many years after his death, in MacFarlane`s `Genealogical Collections` in 1750. It seems that James Chapman had a particular debt of gratitude to Sir James Grant who, as a Covenanter, dismissed the incumbent minister and held the post vacant pending the finding of a minister (presumably James Chapman himself) of a suitable persuasion.

c. The Shaw Text (1775) [HM]: Lachlan Shaw wrote `the History of the Province of Moray`, first published in 1775. This was the first text to cast doubt on the Norwegian origins of the Chiefs - but he left the matter open. To be fair to Shaw it should be pointed out (a) that he admits he did not have access to adequate information and (b) that in any case this was but a very brief chapter in a very long work. Unfortunately the way had been left open for him by the really very undisciplined (and hugely erroneous) nature of the chronology in the MT and CT.

d. The Birkenburn Manuscript (1782) [BMS]: William Mackay of Inverness, who wrote about the Grants of Glenmoriston in the later 1800s, seems to have been the owner of a manuscript many times larger than any of those previously mentioned, written in 1782 at Birkenburn House (just outside Keith) and addressed to "Mr Ludovick Grant" (in reality Lewis Alexander Grant). The self-effacing author admits to not having access to sources he would have liked and it is clear that he relied in large measure on a version of the MT. While a hugely useful document in many ways, it does not actually help us substantially in our task. Our best guess is that the author was the Rev. Francis Grant, for several years in later life the minister at Knockando before his death in 1805. He was married to Jane Stuart of Birkenburn and they produced several children in the late 1700s. The original MS is now in the National Library of Scotland. (MS 3658).

e. The Baronage of Scotland (1798) [BS]: Sir Robert Douglas followed up his `Peerage of Scotland` with a tome covering the lesser nobility - the Baronage. Like HM before him he left open the matter of the origins, but for the period 1215 - 1450 he does seem to have had access to more sources of information. It now seems most likely that the text was composed by "The Good" Sir James Grant - the date would appear to be before 31st March 1772 (the death of Alexander).

f. The Gordon Text (1882) [HM2]: JFS Gordon revised and updated HM in 1882. As for the genealogy of the Chiefs of Grant he reproduced Shaw`s text and then wrote a separate, much larger and quite different version of his own as an addendum. For the origins he seems to have been content to reproduce the accepted BS line, though he was of a sufficiently independent mind to try just a little to fill in some of the more obvious gaps.

g. `Chiefs of Grant` (1883) [CoG]: In 1883 Sir William Fraser published his enormous 3-volume opus. The edition was limited to a mere 150 copies (but even a similar but smaller, 2-volume, work on the MacGregors by a member of that Clan only ran to 300 copies).

h. `Rulers of Strathspey` (1911) [RS]: In 1911 Earl Cassillis published his far lesser work - intended for wider access than CoG. While careful to leave his options open and while he does not follow Fraser`s lineage precisely, he is generally content to follow the revisionist line of CoG.

i. `The Clan Grant` (1955) [IFG]: This small book by Dr Isabel Frances Grant (a descendant of Field Marshall Sir Patrick Grant of Tullochgorm) is still in print and available from the Clan Grant Society and Famedram Publications of Ellon (SBN: 7179 4526 x). In it she supports Fraser`s proposition with no proof whatsoever - a view it is understood she later resiled from. Her arguments are far less cogent than in her many other - often most erudite - works.

j. `A History of Clan Grant` (1982) [STG]: In 1982, Sir Trevor Grant, the Late Lord Strathspey, published a fairly short volume. This is still in print, available from Phillimore (ISBN 0 85033 422 X). The main value of this work was the updating of the story since Cassillis. As for the early times, little new information is brought to light, but he does refer to his number in the line and, for the first time, he did try to apply the discipline of a proper timescale to the list. By his doing this, the holes in previous efforts too became all too abundantly clear - serving perhaps better than anything else as a spur to the current endeavour.

The Clan Grant Centre Trust