The Gaelic 'Ban' or Bain means ‘fair’ and with Scottish blood made up with so much Norse and Germanic stock this descriptive term could have been applied to many people. Indeed the name is found associated with several clans in many districts. There was an early Scottish King called Donald Ban. Through various Gaelic manipulations the three forms of the name have become MacBean, McVean and MacBain. It seems probable that the name originated from the personal appearance of the bearer, Ban or Bain meaing “ fair,” consequently the name is found in many districts and associated with several clans.
Originally the MacBeans are said to have come from Lochaber in the suite of the heiress Eva, daughter of Dougall Dall, of Clan Chattan and settled in eastern Inverness-shire. Eva married Angus Mackintosh of Torcastle, the 6th Mackintosh chief, and after their marriage lived for some time at Tocastle in Glenloy, but due to the enmity of Angus Og of Islay, they withdrew to Rothiemurchus. It was from this marriage that the Mackintosh lines of Dalmunzie and Totcastle decends.
The MacBean Lands were located on the south side of Loch Ness. There are several notible family groups, such as the MacBeans of Faillie, the MacBeans of Tomatin, the MacBeans of Pittanie, and the MacBeans of Kinchyle. It is the MacBeans of Kinchyle that the Chieftainship is passed through to our present Chief, James McBain of McBain - 22nd Chief of Clan MacBean.
Myles MacBean was a strong supporter of MacKintosh against the Red Comynn, and at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, many of the MacBeans fell fighting for MacKintosh. The principal family were the MacBeans of Kinchyle, and Kinchyle signed several important Clan Chattan agreements in 1609, 1664 and 1756. Other families were the MacBeans of Drummond in the parish of Dores, MacBean of Faillie in Strathnairn, and MacBean of Tomatin in Strathdearn.
The MacBeans were ever a war-like clan, and at the Battle of Culloden, Gillies MacBean, filling a breach in a wall, killed fourteen of the Hanoverian side before he fell. His feat was almost emulated over a century later by Major-General William MacBean, who enlisted in the 93rd Regiment as a private, and rose to the command of the regiment in 1873. He gained the Victoria Cross for attacking and killing single-handed eleven of the enemy in the main breach of the Begum Bagh at Lucknow in 1858. Another member of the Clan, Major Forbes MacBean, of the Gordon Highlanders, gained the D.S.O. for his gallant conduct at the taking of the heights of Dargai in 1897.
After the loss at the Battle of Culloden, Donald MacBean - 15th Chief of Clan MacBean - was in the British Army and fighting in North America. Through taxation, the lands of Kinchyle were lost. William McBain - 16th Chief of Clan MacBean , immigrated to Canada in the early 1800's, bringing the Chieftain lineage to North America. Many clan members came to North America during the late 1700's and early 1800's. Some through the military, some through exploration, and some through transportation as prisoners.
In the mid-1900's Hughston McBain was interested in his heritage and started doing research. It was discovered that the Chieftainship of Clan MacBean had been vacant for almost 200 years. After several years of follow-up research and applications to the Lord Lyon, he became recognized as the 21st Chief of Clan MacBean.
Crest: A demi cat gules. Badge: Red whortleberry, Boxwood.
Septs of the Clan: Bean, MacBeath, MacBeth, Macilvain, MacVean