Spessart Highlanders > Our Tartan
The Story of Clan MacEwen
Although of ancient origin, there are few authentic records of this clan. Records from
1450 show that the Clan MacEwen, together with the Clan Neill and the Clan Lachlan,
formed the Siol Gillevray of the Gallgael. The genealogy proves that Clan MacEwen
existed long before 1450 and that they were known as the MacEwens of Otter.
The Reverend Alexander McFarlane, minister of the parish of Kilfinan, writing in 1794,
states that On a rocky point on the coast of Loch Fyne about a mile below the church of
Kilfinan is seen the vestige of a building called MacEwens Castle. This MacEwen was a
Chief of a clan and proprietor of Otter. The MacEwen lands were located on the southern
shore of Loch Fyne with the Lamonts to the south, separated by the River Kilfinnan, and
the MacLachlans to the north where the terrace slopes looked down onto Otter Spit and
the stream divides the parishes of Kilfinnan and Strathlachlan.
Ewen of Otter, who gives his name to the clan, lived at the beginning of the thirteenth
century. His name is derived from Eoghan which translates from the Gaelic as Born of the
Yew Tree. Gillespic, 5th of Otter, flourished about a century later. In 1174, Malcolm
MacEwen witnessed the charter by Malcolm, the Second Earl of Atholl, of the church of
Dul to Saint Andrews. In 1219, Gilpatrik MacEwen was listed as one of the perambulators
for the lands of Kynblathmund.
MacEwen tradition holds that the MacEwens supported Somerled in his stand against the
Scottish crown's campaign to secure the western seaboard. They suffered severely when
Alexander II campaigned against Argyll in 1222.
Swene MacEwen, 9th and last of Otter (the last Chief), granted, in 1432, lands of Otter to
Duncan Campbell of Lochow in repayment for overdue loans, and resigned the Barony of
Otter to James I. It was returned to him until his death with remainder to Celestine, son
and heir of Duncan Campbell. In 1493, James V confirmed the barony of Otter to Colin
Campbell, Second Earl of Argyll and thereafter Otter remained in possession of the
Campbells. The manner in which the Clan MacEwen lands were lost suggests that Swene MacEwen was a victim of the Campbell facility to exploit the law to their own benefit at the detriment of simpler neighbors. Without lands, the MacEwens became a broken clan and found their way to many districts. Many settled in the lands of their cousins an neighbors - the MacLachlans. A large number are known to have settled in Lennox County while others went further afield to Lochaber, Perth, Skye and the Lowlands, including Galloway. Other MacEwens stayed where they were swearing allegiance to the Earl of Argyll, some eventually becoming hereditary bards and sennachies to the Campbell Chiefs of Glenorchy. Records from around 1513 indicate that the MacEwens had been pretty well dispersed from their homeland. For the past 500 years, Clan MacLachlan has continued to serve in this role as protectorate to their MacEwen cousins.
The crest and motto -- an old stunted oak putting forth new branches and fresh foliage with the motto "Reviresco" - "I will be strong again"