The Earldoms And The Rise Of The Anglo~Norman Clans


   It should be noted at this point that the central and eastern highlands (i.e. the region that had been established as the Scots Kingdom) had, for centuries, been divided into seven provinces that were called Coicidh. These Coicidh were composed of two or more Mortuaths, or ‘great tribes’, which were in turn composed of numerous tuaths or kindreds / clans. The seven Coicidh included: Caith, comprised of present-day Caithness and Sutherland; Ce, comprised of Buchan and Mar; Ciric, comprised of Mearns; Fibh, comprised of Fife; Fidach, comprised of Moray and Ross; Fodhla, comprised of Atholl; and Fortrenn, comprised of the western part of Perthshire. Each of the Mortuaths were governed by a Mormaer, (i.e. steward) and each of the Tuaths were governed by a Toiseach (i.e. chief). The Coicidh would eventually take on the Saxon name of earldoms, which were ruled over by native earls descended from the Celtic tribe known as the Picts. The family lines which had ruled over these earldoms (and also those of Angus, Lennox, and Menteith) were failing by the latter part of the Thirteenth Century. According to Fitzroy Maclean, as the Fourteenth Century dawned, the ancient earldoms were being replaced by new clans. Less patriarchal than those clans of the western highlands, and more feudal in structure, the new clans of the eastern and central highlands were composed largely of individuals not related by blood.

   Commencing during the reign of David I (1124 to 1154) a number of powerful Anglo-Norman families came to settle in Scotland. They included the de Brus, from which the family of Bruce descended; the de Bailleuls, from which the family of Balliol descended; and the FitzAlans, from which the Stewarts descended (as a result of gaining the hereditary position of High Steward of the realm). From these forerunners descended the Fourteenth Century Scottish kings: Robert the Bruce, his son, David II, and David’s nephew, Robert Stewart. These monarchs, likewise, granted to their supporters ~ who were primarily Anglo-Normans ~ substantial estates in the Scottish Lowlands and the Eastern and Central Highlands. Small family groups residing in the vicinity of these new lairds aligned themselves with those lairds’ own patriarchal clans to form so-called ‘feudal clans’.