History & Heritage2021-02-22T18:52:10+00:00

The Great Grahams

The Grahams have a rich history and heritage that we are proud to share with the world. Below are articles of interesting people, places and things. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required for the PDF articles. More content will be added gradually to create an archive of resources for the clan.

Dukes of Montrose

James Graham, 8th Duke of Montrose (1935- )
James Graham, 7th Duke of Montrose (1907-1992)
James Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose (1878-1954)
Douglas Graham, 5th Duke of Montrose (1852-1925)

James Graham, 8th Duke of Montrose (1935- )

“An Greumach Mhor” ~ Chief of the Clan Graham
James Graham, 8th Duke of Montrose

His Grace was born on April 6, 1935, in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Africa, where his father, then the Marquis of Graham, went to establish his career independent of the social ladder which operated in the United Kingdom at that time. The Marquis and his wife were carving a farm out of the African bush. In an effort to escape the attentions of the mosquitoes, the family’s first home was two round mud huts situated on a kopje. It turned out that the situation was not really suitable for young children. After some illness, the Duke and his sister were returned to Great Britain.

The Marquis had attained the rank of Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. At the outbreak of the 2nd World War he joined the Royal Navy and entrusted his farm to a manager. He saw action in the battle of the Mediterranean and duties on the Russian convoy patrols.

His Grace attended two boarding schools. The first had been evacuated to Aberdeenshire for the duration of the war and the second was Loretto School near Edinburgh. The school emphasized a physically tough and Spartan regime, but it also enabled him to learn piping and highland dancing. The former activity has now been passed on to his two sons.

After leaving school, he traveled widely as a volunteer worker. He visited many countries where he took a special interest in the efforts of many of the young countries that were trying to establish their independence and democracy. This was part of various initiatives coordinated by Moral Re-Armament (MRA).

In 1962, he returned to Scotland to oversee some of the family farms and estates. He was finally given full responsibility in 1984. He has been active for many years in his local branch of the Scottish National Farmers Union including serving nine years on the National Council. In 1997, he was President of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society and has many rural interests.

In 1970, he married a Canadian of Scottish descent, the late Catherine Young, whose father, a Rhode’s Scholar, founded Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg and was one of those killed in the Dieppe Raid of 1942. They have a daughter and two sons – Hermione, James, and Ronald. Hermione is married to Christopher John Thornhill, has twins, and is a psychologist and the President of the Preshal Trust, a charity based in Govan, Glasgow. James (Jamie), the Marquis of Graham, has now taken over the running of the Graham Estate in Scotland and has spent several years promoting renewable energy and anti-pollution measures in China. He speaks Mandarin fluently. He has directed energy exchanges in Europe and now has a position in the UK government. Ronald married Florence Arbuthnott in 2016, has two boys and is a lawyer practicing with a firm in England.

After the death of his father in 1992, His Grace took his seat in the House of Lords and participated in the debates on Scottish devolution and the reform of the House of Lords. In 1999, he was the only Duke elected to remain in the interim House along with 92 other hereditary peers. The Duke is currently the senior peer in government in the House of Lords with roles in farming, fishing, forestry and the environment.

James Graham, 7th Duke of Montrose (1907-1992)

James Graham served as the first chief of Clan Graham Society in North America and is the father of our current “An Greumach Mhor,” also named James Graham.

James Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose (1878-1954)

An extensive four-part biography of His Grace was written by W. James (Jim) Nethery. Log in to the Members Only section to download an exclusive 42-page PDF from the archives.

Douglas Graham, 5th Duke of Montrose (1852-1925)

Society and Membership

The Clan Graham Society is an organization of the descendants of the families of the “Gallant Grahams” of old Scotland.

Its membership is made up of those Grahams who know and who propagate the very distinguished accomplishments and honorable ideals of the Grahams, past and present. Because of the large number of Grahams in Scotland, their wide dispersion all along the Highland line was from Montrose on the North Sea to Loch Lomond (and further west) down past Glasgow through the Lowlands to Carlisle on the Border.

Other Titled Grahams

Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham of Gartmore (1852-1936)
James Graham – The Great Marquis of Montrose (1612-1650)
Sir John Graham of Dundaff (13th century)
Sir William de Graham (12th century)

Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham of Gartmore (1852-1936)

Click HERE to download a PDF article about “Don Roberto” who was also known as “The Uncrowned King of the Scots”; article by W. James (Jim) Nethery; graphic layout by Ekena B. Parkinson; poetry by Father Andrew McDonald Graham.

James Graham – The Great Marquis of Montrose (1612-1650)

Special collection of articles commemorating the 400-year birth anniversary will be available for download from the Members Only section. COMING SOON

Sir John Graham of Dundaff (13th century)

Sir John Graham of Dundaff is known as the “Graham with the Bright Sword”


Sir John de Graham was born during the early 13th century. Tradition holds that he was born in a Motte and Bailey castle below Fintry hills. These castles were made by digging a ditch around a mound (motte) built up with the soil from the ditch. On the flattened top of the motte a high palisade made of logs was built for defense. Adjacent to the motte, there was a living area of several acres, which was called the bailey, it was surrounded by another palisade and ditch. Graham’s castle, at the head of the Carron valley, was unique because it had a square ditch. These castles were used by the Normans for protection and to control the indigenous population.

Sir John’s father is believed to be the grandson of William de Graham. Sir John was legendary for his bravery, and was known as “Graham with the Bright Sword.”

Sir William Wallace met Sir John, late in 1296, after escaping his English pursuers by swimming the icy River Forth. He spent three nights with the Grahams of Dundaff before going to Gilbank, near Lanark, for Christmas. Early in 1297, Sir John Graham, with 30 men, met Wallace at Queensberry as he was being pursued by the English. Together, they suddenly turned and charged their pursuers. Many of the English scattered, leaving their leader with a small group of men. Sir John and his men promptly attacked and annihilated all of them.

May 1297, they avoided an ambush at Lanark with Wallace and Graham fighting off the English, in a narrow Street, leaving 50 dead and escaping through the home of Wallace’s wife, Marion. The sheriff murdered Marion and burned her house. The next night Wallace returned and avenged Marion’s death by killing the sheriff and his son, while Sir John Graham led an attack on the English garrison, killing the commander and all of his men.

At Scone, Sir John helped Wallace avenge the killing of his uncle, Sir Ronald Crawford, by attacking a English court which was in session.

Sir John Graham was a member of the army, led by Sir William Wallace and Sir Andrew Moray, at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, on September 11, 1297. The Scots lured the English army onto a narrow wooden bridge, across the River Forth, then firing the bridge and attacking those who had already crossed. The English were defeated and driven out of Scotland but Sir Andrew Moray died of wounds he received during the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

At Falkirk, July 22, 1298, Sir John Graham died while fighting at Wallace’s side. His armor had not been properly secured at his waist and a English knight found the fatal area with his sword. William Wallace carried Sir John’s body to St. Mary’s Kirk in Falkirk, where he was buried.

History records him as the “Right Hand of Wallace.” The inscription on his grave reads:

“Her lyse Sir John the Graham, baith wight and wise,
Ane of the Chief who saved Scotland thryse,
Ane better knight no to the world was lent
Nor was gude Graeme of truth and hardiment.”

Sir John Graham’s sword hangs in the home of the 8th Duke of Montrose and is inscribed:

“Sir John de Graham verry wicht and wyse
Ane o’ ye chiefs relievet Scotland thryse,
Fought vith ys sword, and ner thout schame,
Commandit nane to beir it bot his name.”

Sir William de Graham (12th century)

William de Graham is “oldest titled Graham”


On the occasion of the Annual General Meeting of the Clan Graham Society at Buchanan Castle Golf Club, July 1995, His Grace the Eighth Duke of Montrose described William de Graham as “the oldest titled Graham.” He said that he had served in the court of King David I, of Scotland, from the time of his journey north from England in 1124, to assume the throne of Scotland. The Duke went on to say that King David introduced a revolutionary new concept, feudalism, to Scotland. It improved his ability to govern and helped stabilize the nation.

As a reward for his services to the King, William de Graham was given the baronies of Dalkeith and Abercorn in Midlothian in 1127. He witnessed the signing of the charter of Holyrood Abbey, in 1128.

From the first days of his reign, King David gave large grants of his kingdom to his knights, as a reward for their service. He established the first Scottish Mint and introduced the concept of burghs. He established dioceses and parishes to strengthen the church, and endowed many monastic orders with land, enabling them to build abbeys and priories. The spread of feudalism helped King David tie the younger sons of English or Norman families to him as their king and feudal lord.

William’s sons John de Graham and Peter de Graham of Abercorn and Dalkeith continued in the service of Kings Malcolm IV and William I. John de Graham is recorded as a witness in 1170 and at the court of William the Lion at Alyth in 1200. William de Graham’s descendant, Sir John Graham of Dundaff, died while fighting beside William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk, on July 22, 1298.

This article serves as the basis of the original script for the DVDs that are available to see in the Graham Room at Mugdock Castle.

Other Famous Grahams

The First Graham of Netherby

By |

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA Lang Will's eldest son, Richard Graham, was the first Graham of Netherby. Who was this Lang Will (William Graham) and what was his title? John [...]


The Grahams have great tastes! Whether it’s “gourmet” or clan comfort food, below are some members’ recipes. More will be added soon to build our online clan cookbook. Thanks to HI Cookery for granting the Society permission to use the food photos (other pictures from members are credited). Ith gu leòir! (Scots Gaelic for “Eat plenty!”).


Have a Happy Hogmanay with this traditional new year’s cake filled with raisins, currants and almonds. This is a good-luck gift from “the first-footer” (first visitor to one’s home in the new year). Learn more about Scottish new year traditions HERE. And get the recipe with step-by-step photos from the Winter 2012 edition of The Clan Graham News (archived in the Members Only site).


This is the ultimate world-famous cookie from Scotland! Kathleen Wheeless, the Clan Graham Society tent chairperson for the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina, shared her classic shortbread cookie recipe in the Winter 2012 edition of the Clan Graham News. Read more about the cookie’s culinary history and see step-by-step photos for making shortbread in the Members Only site.


Although it is not known whether these tasty tea cakes were named after the Scottish town, Montrose, or James Graham the Great Marquis of Montrose, they are still a terrific treat. Click HERE to see the recipe (.jpg/.jpeg file opens in a new browser window).


A boiled egg is enrobed in savory sausage, coated in crumbs then deep fried to seal in the flavors. Scotch eggs are a favorite festival food and this substantial snack can be made at home! Click HERE for visual step-by-step photo directions of this recipe.


Originally named “Dr. Graham’s Honey Biskets,” these crackers were part of Reverend Sylvester Graham‘s controversial diet plan and his specialty graham flour. Learn more about him and get the recipe by downloading the PDF articles HERE (background written by Jenny Fitzsimmons and recipe tested by Ekena B. Parkinson). John and Margaret Graham of North Carolina, who sponsor clan tents in their area, say they bake these treats for the children who come to visit them at the Scottish games. These young “taste testers” give their homemade graham crackers a positive review!


Leek and tattie (potato) soup is a Scottish staple that is both hearty and heartwarming. The vegetables are cheap and chunky to make a filling first course. The recipe for this comfort cuisine, along with step-by-step photos, is featured in the Winter 2012 edition of The Clan Graham News (log in to the Members Only site).

Significant Places

General Scottish Roots

The Scottish Thistle

The thistle ranks next to the rose in British heraldic importance. Although of ancient origin, as the rose, the reason for its importance remains largely [...]


“Poetry and Lyrics by and About Montrose” compiled by W. James (Jim) Nethery (PDF)

>>> Download Here <<<

“Murder of Charles I”


Great good and just! could I but rate
My griefs to thy too rigid fate,
I’d weep the world to such a strain,
As it should deluge once again:
But since thy loud – tongu’d blood demands supplies,
More from Briareus’ hands than Argus’ eyes,
I’ll sing thy obsequies with trumpet sounds,
And write thy epitaph with blood and wounds.

“The Ghost of Bonnie Dundee” (After the Account of Francis Watt)


In the year of Sixteen eighty-nine,
In Auld Reekie, in Edinb’rgh Castle,
The Earl of Balcarres was cruelly confined;
For he’d no be an English king’s vassal.

‘Twas July 27th – quite certain’s the date –
He was layin’ a-bed i’ the nicht,
When a wraithlike hand drew back his drape,
And the Earl saw a wonderfu’ sicht.

He saw his auld camrade, the Bonnie Dundee,
Wi’ his lang raven locks hangin’ doun:
John Graham, as handsome as ony did see,
From the soles of his boots to his croun.

He stood there in silence, yon bonnie Viscount,
Wi’ his hand on his richt shoulder blade,
Tae hide – (Balcarres learned from later account) –
The dread wound siller bullet had made.

The boffled Earl called oot distracted
Tae his frien’ and unexpected guest,
Yet while this ghostly scene enacted,
Claver’se vanished – (and noo ye’ll have guessed):

The verra day and the hour of his callin’
Found Graham in Killiecrankie’s Pass,
Where, the battle won, Dundee had fallen:
Both the victor and victim, alas!

“To Doughty Deeds” (A Salute to Robert Graham of Gartmore – 1735-1797)


In Graham blood there runs a flood
Of passion pure and poetry:
Montrose, Mentieth, both trod the heath –
Braw bards adorned each moiety.

Montrose, we recall, scorned ambition small,
While Gartmore wrote of doughty deeds;
‘Tis yon Robert Graham we seek to acclaim
Ere his mark from our mem’ry recedes.

Hanoverian Nicol, e’er leal, never fickle,
(one of King William’s great champions),
Sired in ’35 a baby boy blithe,
Born in Flanders Moss in the Grampians.

A cadet was he, so necessity
Made Rab his own fortune-maker:
With alacrity, the lad set to sea
To seek the Isle of Jamaica.

For increase of health in the realm of wealth
Hard work’s the best prophylaxis:
There Rab won esteem and, a mere eighteen,
‘Came Receiver General of Taxes!

Twelve long years later, his influence greater,
Robert entered politics, namely:
He won his election – with all due affection –
As St. David’s Member of Assembly.

Comes a sudden rise in stock: he inherits Ardoch
By the demise of Mr. Bontine;
Now he is a squire of Dumbartonshire:
The new Laird of broad acres green.

Sickness the despot induced our proud Scot
To leave his belov’d Jamaica;
Denying himself for his wife’s ill-health:
To Ardoch estates he will take her.

Though proud as a Graham, he must change his name:
As Laird, a Bontine he’s become.
A victim of gout, (too much port, no doubt –
Though he claimed he drank nothing but rum!)

Uric acidity has the proclivity
Of making hapless victims groan and writhe.
Although the pain was rigorous, the Laird himself was vigorous:
William Cunninghame was born in ’75!

In the year of ’87, Robert acts like godly leaven,
Regardless of his adversity;
Proud Academe’s protector, Rab’s now elected Rector
Of Glasgow’s own University.

While hope might seem forlorn, he’s ardent for reform
Of Bonnie Scotland’s Royal Burghs.
By post chaise or ship he oft makes the trip
To London to tell of their sorrows.

His uncle, the Earl of Glencairn, passed on without leaving a bairn,
And Rab gained Finlaystone in ’96.
Traditionally, and once again, he changed his name to Cunninghame:
One could say that he was nominally prolix!

Earning even greater fame, another bore his name:
Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham.
In passing I refer to that great writer, Don Roberto,
Swashbuckling “Prince of the Pampa,” – the same!

Robert Graham of Gartmore has left his mark, for sure,
And “If Doughty Deeds My Ladye Please,”
His endeavors for his nation must bring this acclamation:
“Well done, guid kinsman, rest at ease!



As the Clan Graham worldwide continues to celebrate the 400th birth year of James Graham, the Great Marquis, in 2012, one fan has expressed a tribute to Montrose by writing a poem.

Franka Rose (1958-), who was born in Sardinia, Italy, and moved to Canada when she was 2 years old, was inspired to write “Foundations” after reading extensively about Montrose’s life.

“History is a love of mine but never have I become as interested in an individual as I have in James Graham, Marquis of Montrose,” explained Franka. “He was many things, a knight, warrior, gentleman, a Lord, kind, generous, husband, father and friend. Many other labels can be attached but mainly he was a man.”

Franka admitted that she first learned about Montrose from “a romance novel—of all things—and it was on the very last page that the author mentioned that James Graham was a real man who fought during the Civil Wars in Scotland and was hung and quartered in 1649. I was immediately drawn to find out who the real Montrose was, as the character in the book was ninety percent fictional.”

She continued, “When I did a bit of research and looked at all that was written about the man, I did not want to read just anyone’s book because there were a few books that were considered fictional. The only two authors I thought worthy of reading. Perhaps there are others but I started with [the book by] the Rev. Dr. George Wishart, (Montrose’s friend) “Memoirs of The Most Renowned James Graham,” published in 1819, and Mark Napier’s “Memoirs of Marquis of Montrose” Volumes I and II), published in 1864. These two books or three gave me everything I could want to find out from beginning as a child (Napier) to end, the real man’s life.”

Read the poem, “Foundations,” HERE (downloadable PowerPoint file).


Click on the links below to see the lyrics and listen to the tunes from an external site.

“Scotland the Brave”


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