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Camerons in Speyside, How & Why ?
The foundation myth !

So why are there so many Camerons living around Speyside ?  This is, in fact a very good question, and all things being equal they should not be there. Back in the day, when a man's sword was his best friend and his sporran was his bedmate, the clan system held sway. This is discussed in more detail elsewhere, however the result of it was that in the Highlands, the vast majority of the population of a particular area would be of the same clan and would have adopted the clan's name , even if they were not born with it, they enjoyed the protection of the Clan chief and his warriors and in return would be called on to fight for him if needed.

The traditional Cameron lands being further to the west in a large area centred around Lochaber, the Clan Chief was known as Lochiel. So there were many Cameron of Lochiels over history, not one amazingly long lived superman. Speyside was the territory of the Clan Grant,  centred unsurprisingly around their chief's stronghold of Castle Grant, which equally unsurprisingly, was close to Grantown on Spey, the town having been founded by " The Good Lord Jim Grant in the 18th Century.

So whats with all the Camerons and why aren't they dead at the hands of the locals ?  Well.....guess what, there is a story about that.

It used to be that the Camerons lived in and around Lochaber and the Grants along the Spey and up towards the coast. Lochaber is an ill-defined area of the West Coast around Latter-day Fort William. Relationships between the two Clans had never exactly been cordial with frequent Cattle raids, abduction of maidens and the odd massacre when needed. It would seem though that some time around the 13th or 14th Century, things were getting out of hand and the whole area was at risk of total anarchy which to be fair, would benefit neither of them.

Archibald Cameron of Locheil. The last Jacobite executed for Treason.

The then Cameron of Lochiel must have had a spare daughter or two as he came up with an idea to settle things down a bit. In an attempt to sow the seeds of peace Lochiel proposed that his daughter should be married to the Son of Lord James Grant of Strathspey. Needless to say, history has not recorded the names of the couple to be betrothed, however Grant must have accepted the idea as in due course his daughter was despatched from her home in Lochaber, to meet and marry her Lord to be.

It seems that said daughter was none too keen on the idea, (being sent to marry a bloke you have never met ? so whats wrong with that ?) and it would seem that the only thing short of physical force that was going to get her there was if she could take a sizeable detachment if loyal Cameron Warriors with her. Presumably to protect her virtue, or whatever they called it back then, and to ensure that she was treated in the manner to which she intended to become accustomed.

If legend is to be believed, this all proved a bit unnecessary as the young couple mightily approved of each other from the word go and she did not require her virtue to be defended thank you very much.  This left her sizeable detachment of fit young warriors with nothing to do and a long way from home.

It seems that at that time the depredations of the Camerons and Grants on each other, had created something of a shortage of young men in the area, to the extent that young widows and unmarried girls were having to run their farms or earn their keep pretty much on their own.  The redundant warriors must have felt honour-bound to help out, they seem to have dispersed across the area and assimilated into the local community. Judging from the birth rate the following year it would seem that they assimilated themselves into more than the local community. In the 1430's John Grant, Abbott of Elgin reported in his chronicle " An epidemic of weddings between Cameron Men and the Maids & Widows of Clan Grant".

Lochiel's plan would appear to have worked, at least for much of the time. Relationships between the two Clans have been relatively harmonious since. There was the odd massacre here and there, but boys will be boys, overall things were much better than they had been.

Is this story plausible ?  Well there is nothing to make one instantly dismiss it as bullshit, it doesn't involve any wizards, love spells or other such legend stuff. To a certain extent it does fit in with the facts, and Abbott Jim really did comment on the epidemic of weddings. Under normal circumstances such weddings would have been very unusual at the time , which does suggest that these were not normal circumstances. Doubtless it would not have been the only reason for an improvement in inter-clan relations, but  at the end of the day, it makes a good story and is as likely as any other explanation.

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