clan graham society


Definition of the Word "Clan"

The Gaelic word for "clan" is children, but is best translated as "family." Originally each clan was made up of the descendents of one man and his children. Today a clan is a social group whose core comprises a number of families derived from, or accepted as being derived from, a common ancestor. Almost without exception, that core is accompanied by a added number of dependent and associated families who have either sought the protection of the clan at some point in history or have been tenants or vassals of its chief. The clan system which arose in Scotland around the 11th century was a complex society. The clan family was headed by a chief. The chief is owed allegiance by all members of the Clan.

montrose x menteith

Origins of the Grahams

Scholars have long debated whence came the people and name Graham. Some say the Grahams are descendants of the Graeme who commanded the armies of Fergus II in 404 AD. Others are equally convinced that they are of Norman descent, while yet others claim a Flemish or even Danish descent. Which are correct? For a complete examination of the subject click HERE to read "Theories on the Origins of the Grahams" by Nellie Graham Lowry, Society Genealogist.

Cadets and Septs of the Grahams

Learn more about the Grahams' extended family through cadets and septs. Click HERE to read the report from Ann Belanger, editor of The Laurel, the Society's Canadian newsletter. Click HERE to see a flyer (.jpg graphic) from W. James (Jim) Nethery and Richard Graham.

Chief of the Clan Graham

duke shield x
James Graham, the 8th Duke of Montrose, is our current "An Greumach Mhor" (Chief of the Grahams). Read more about His Grace HERE.

Badge and Armorial Bearings

Pictured above on The Clan Graham Society website banner are the official badge (left) and coat of arms (right). Read the important protocol for their use, see illustration details and learn about their historical symbolism HERE.

Clan Motto - "Do Not Forget" ("Ne Oublie") - and Colors

The motto of the Graham Clan is "Ne Oublie." It means “Do Not Forget.” Frequently we ask, “What are we not to forget?” Historians may have several reasons for this motto which may be based upon biblical teachings.

The colors for Clan Graham are gold ("or") and black ("sable"). The armorial bearing for each Graham who is granted arms by the Lord Lyon King of Arms has a modified arrangement of the following: The gold shield and three gold scallops on a black field. Grahams who have not been granted arms may display a simple gold shield with three gold scallops on a black field.

His Grace, the 8th Duke of Montrose, was the Honored Guest at the San Diego Highland Games in 1997. The following are a few statements given in his address to the Clan Graham Society:

"On the Graham Coat of Arms are three scallop shells. These represent pilgrimages of three Graham ancestors. The pilgrimages were made by medieval knights to the shrine Santiago de Campostila. Around 1230-1260, pilgrimages were made by two of the senior Dalkeith branches of the Grahams and this was marked by the inclusion of the scallop shells on the Graham Coat of Arms. Shells were used to collect alms for the poor.

"More direct evidence has since been found of the sixth title holder of the Graham of Montrose family. Patrick Graham made two pilgrimages in 1352 and 1361. Official records show he was issued certificates of safe conduct through England.

“My hope would be that those associated with the name of Graham would be a repository of the best of traditions that we are asked not to forget, some of which are contained in the concept of chivalry, bravery and Christian service to your fellow man.”

Tartans of the Grahams

The official tartan of the Clan Graham Society is the Modern Montrose Graham. There is an alternative tartan, the Menteith Graham. This provision is made as a courtesy to the descendants of the Menteith Graham (peerage line is extinct). There is also an Ancient Montrose and Menteith tartan being an attempt to reproduce the colors of the older vegetable dyes.

Another tartan associated with Clan Graham is known as the Red Graham. This is the plaid worn by The Great Marquis of Montrose in 1650 when he was sent to the gallows. It was a MacNaughton who gave his red plaid to The Great Marquisto wear to the gallows so at least Montrose would be spared the indignity of being paraded to his death dressed like a pauper. The "Red Montrose" is very similar to the MacNaughton tartan but the position of two colors has been reversed in the Graham.


montrose tartan x menteith tartan x red graham tartan



Clan Plant - The Laurel (Laurus Nobilis)


Until recently, the Sparge Laurel has been recognized as the Clan Graham plant. Our Chief and the Lord Lyon conducted an investigation and found that the Sparge Laurel is not indigenous to Scotland and is poisonous. The True Laurel (Laurus Nobilis), indigenous to Scotland and not poisonous, has been approved by our Chief and is now the Clan plant. The True Laurel is similar to that seen on Greek and Roman noble heads--very fitting as a Graham Clan plant. The Lord Lyon has awarded this change to our Chief.

According to Wikipedia, "The symbolism carried over to Roman culture which held the laurel as a symbol of victory. It is also the source of the words baccalaureate and poet laureate, as well as the expressions 'assume the laurel' and 'resting on one's laurels.' In the Bible, the laurel is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christian tradition, it symbolizes the resurrection of Christ."

The Society newsletter from Canada is aptly titled The Laurel.