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In the Highlands, the name came from the Gaelic "sithech" meaning "wolf" and was initially used as a first name but became a surname early in the 13th century. Shaw Macduff, a younger son of Duncan, Thane of Fife (a descendant of Kenneth mac Alpin) assisted King Malcolm IV in putting down a rebellion in Moray and he was made keeper of Inverness castle. Shaw's grandson was granted land in Rothiemurchus (in Strathspey). His son married a daughter of the Macdonald Lord of Islay in 1291.
The Shaws and their Mackintosh allies supported Robert the Bruce against the Comyns (Cummings) and took part in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
James Shaw of Rothiemurchus, a descendant of Shaw "Corrfhiaclach" (Bucktooth) is regarded as the first chief of clan Shaw. He was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. In the 16th century the Rothiemurchus lands were lost after a Shaw chief murdered his stepfather and the lands were forfeited to the Crown who sold them to the Laird of Grant.
The Clan Shaw were one of the principal septs of the Clan Chattan. They were descended fro Shaw, great grandson of Angus, 6th chief of MacKintosh, and he is credited with being the commander of the Clan Chattan at the Clan Battle at Perth in 1396, for which service he received the lands of Rothiemurchus. James, of Rothiemurchus, was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. During his son Alasdair’s infancy the Comyns repossessed themselves of Rothiemurchus and built the famous castle on Loch-an-Eilean. On reaching manhood Alasdair recaptured Rothiemurchus which was confirmed to him by written title in 1464. The lands passed out of the possession of the Shaws in the sixteenth century.
Another important family of Shaws were in possession of Tordarroch (in Strathnairn, south of Inverness) from 1468 till the eighteenth century. The Tordarroch Shaws were styled the Clan Aidh or Ay and were amongst the most prominent septs of the Clan Chattan, and in the Rising of 1715 they were described as “ the most resolute and best armed of any that composed the army,” and the “regiment was reckoned the best the Earl of Mar had.” Other families of the Shaws were established in Dell, Dalnavert, Black Isle, and in the Western Isles. Certainly it was this line which signed the Clan Chattan bonds of union in the 17th century. Tordarroch was held on a lease from clan Mackintosh who reclaimed the land in the late 18th century but it has since been regained by the chiefs of Clan Ay.
The Shaws of the Lowlands had a different origin. William de Shaw, whose name appears in the Ragman Roll of 1296, was the ancestor of the Ayrshire Shaws, and the Shaws of Sauchie and the Shaws of Greenock were important branches of the family in the South.
Crest: A demi-lion, gules, holding in the dexter paw a sword, proper. Badge: Red whortleberry.
For more detailed information on this sept and its Mackintosh genealogy see
also the Clan Shaw page of this site.
There is also a strong connection between this family and
the Clan MacBean's of Clan Chattan.