The Grants are a Scottish clan, traditionally said to be descended from Gregor Mor MacGregor, who lived in the 12th century. On that basis the Grants are one of the principal branches of the Siol Alpin, of which Clan MacGregor is the chief. However, the name father of the clan is sometimes said to have been Haakon Magnus, a Norse king. The two traditions are not compatible. The first recorded ancestor of the chiefs was Sir Lawrence Grant, Sheriff of Inverness in 1263. The first ancestor from whom it is possible to trace the inheritance of the chiefship was Sir Ian Ruadh Grant, Sheriff of Inverness in 1434.
The present chief is Sir James Patrick Trevor Grant of Grant, Baronet and 33rd Chief. The clan is divided into five branch clans: Grant of Freuchie (the chiefs), Grant of Auchernack (Clan Allan), Grant of Tullochgorm (Clan Phadraig), Grant of Gartenbeg (Clan Donnachie, Baronets of Dalvey), Grant of Dellachapple (Clan Chiaran). The Grants of Corrimony and Grants of Ballindalloch are feudal Barons. Glenmoriston is also a possession of a branch of the family.
Battle of Dunbar
Peter Grant was taken prisoner at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 and deported to America.
During the English Civil War, the Parliamentary Army executed King Charles I. His son Charles attempted to regain his father’s throne through various invasions originating in Scotland. The Scots, although by religion in sympathy with the Parliamentarians, were loyal to the Stuart dynasty. During one of these invasions Oliver Cromwell, Protector of England, marched on the Scots. The Scots surrounded the English army at Dunbar, but General David Leslie, commander of the Scottish army, believed that the English were still in the best position. The Covenanters (leaders of the Scottish Presbyterian Church) claimed that victory had been revealed to them in a vision and ordered Gen. Leslie to attack the English, which he did on 3 September 1650. The battle lasted all day and the Scots were defeated. Ten thousand of Leslie’s forces, including the whole of the Scottish foot, surrendered. Three thousand were killed. Cromwell wrote, “I do not believe that we have lost twenty men.”
One hundred forty members of Clan Grant, including Peter Grant, fought for Prince Charles under the command of the Chief’s brother at the Battle of Dunbar. The English pursued many remnants of the Scottish army as far as eight miles before capturing them. The English took 5,000 prisoners and marched them 100 miles from Dunbar to Durham and Newcastle in England. The Cathedral at Durham was converted into a prison for the prisoners. Banks wrote, “Their food consisted of Pottage made with Oatmeal, Beef and Cabbage, a full Quart at every Meal for every Prisoner. They had also Coals daily brought them, as many as made about 100 Fires both Night and Day and Straw to lie upon.” Yet, 1,600 of them died in 58 days from disease and lack of medical attention to their wounds. Of the surviving prisoners, 900 were sent to Virginia and 150 to New England. Peter Grant was among those deported to New England. They sailed on the ‘Unity’ captained by Augustine Walker. The ‘Unity’ sailed in the winter instead of waiting for spring, so the trip was rough and the prisoners had scurvy, but all arrived safely in Boston near the end of December. The prisoners were sold as indentured servants for £20-30 each, and were expected to work off the price of their voyage for 6-8 years, then be given their freedom. The typical cost for passage across the sea was £5, so Capt. Walker made quite a profit. Peter Grant was sold to work at the Lynn Iron Works in Massachusetts and like his fellow prisoners probably received his first medical attention after the battle from his purchasers.
Battle of Worcester
In 1651 another battle for Prince Charles, the Battle of Worcester, resulted in the deportation to New England of Peter’s brother, James Grant, and a kinsman of theirs, another James Grant.
Origin of the Grant Family of Berwick, Maine
A tradition in one branch of this Grant family claims that the surname was originally MacGregor and that an ancestor adopted the surname Grant, as did many of the MacGregors when that surname was outlawed in 1604 after the Battle of Glenfruin in 1603. Some American sources say our Grant family is probably from the Glenmoriston area of Scotland because only the Grants of Glenmoriston are said to have participated in the Battle of Dunbar at which Peter Grant was captured. However, Prof. Gordon Donaldson of the Scots Ancestry Research Society states that there is no authority for a particular part played by the Grants of Glenmoriston in that battle. In fact, James of Freuchie, the 16th chief of Grant, raised the entire clan for Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The confusion probably arose from events 100 years later. After the Revolution of 1688, the Grants of Freuchie supported the new regime, while the Grants of Glenmoriston supported the exiled Stuarts. During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the Duke of Cumberland’s men ravaged the lands and burned the house of Grant of Glenmoriston. After the Battle of Culloden ended the Stuart hopes, Grant of Freuchie persuaded 70 of the Glenmoriston Grants to return to Inverness and surrender their arms, promising them their freedom. Instead, the government captured them, convicted them, and sold them as indentured servants in the colonies. In 1746, when the Young Pretender was in hiding in the Highlands, he took refuge in a cave with a band of robbers who have gone down in legend as “The Seven Men of Glenmoriston.” One of those men was a “Black” Peter Grant.
Instead of Glenmoriston, it is more likely that this family of Grants came from Strathspey. In 1650, 140 Grants fought at the Battle of Dunbar under the command of the chief’s brother. A year later, 150 Grants from Strathspey, the area ruled by the chiefs, Grant of Freuchie, fought under the chief at the Battle of Worcester. Because three different Grants in this family were captured and deported after these two battles, it seems likely that all three came from Strathspey.
Peter Grant was probably not among the gentry of the clan. After the Battles of Dunbar and Worcester those who held the rank of Captain and above (that is, the gentlemen) were imprisoned, while those below the rank of Captain were transported. Further, neither Peter nor the two James are recorded as having been officers at Dunbar or Worcester.
In 1997 I suggested James Grant the Drummer might have been James Grant of Auchterblair, an illegitimate son of James Grant of Ardneidlie and Logie. In 1629 James of Auchterblair married his cousin Agnes, daughter of Robert Grant of Lurg. They had a son Peter, born about 1630. They are also said, on unknown authority, to have been the parents of Deborah Grant, wife of John Knowlton, of Ipswich, Massachusetts. This family of Grants came to an unknown end. They were replaced at Auchterblair by a different family of Grants sometime before 1673.
It was a nice theory but it didn’t bear up to yDNA analysis. The yDNA signature of the descendants of Peter Grant (R-CTS3655) does not match the yDNA signature of the chief’s family (R-DF88).
- Gregory le Grant, said to have been a cadet of the MacGregors.
- Sir Laurence le Grant (about 1230-?), Sheriff of Inverness; married a daughter of Gilbert de Comyn.
- John le Grant of Inverallan (about 1296-?).
- Sir John Grant (about 1333-about 1370), married Elizabeth.
- Sir John Grant (about 1380-?), married Matilda, daughter of Gilbert Comyn of Glencairnie.
- Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie (before 1413-about 1472).
- John Grant, younger of Freuchie (about 1448-1482), married Muriel, daughter of Malcolm Macintosh of that Ilk.
- John Grant of Freuchie (about 1462-1528), married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Ogilvy of Findlater.
- James Grant of Freuchie (about 1485-1553), married Elizabeth, daughter of John, Lord Forbes.
- John Grant of Freuchie (1507-1585), married Margaret Stewart, daughter of John, Earl of Atholl.
- Duncan Grant, younger of Freuchie (1527-1582), married Margaret, daughter of William Macintosh of that Ilk.
- James Grant of Logie & Ardneidlie (abt 1568-?), had by an unknown mistress:
- James Grant of Auchterblair (abt 1605-?), married Agnes Grant of Lurg.
- Peter Grant of Auchterblair (abt 1630).
- James Grant “the Drummer” (abt 1605-1683), captured at the Battle of Worcester (1651) and deported to America. He left property to Peter Grant, to Peter Grant’s son James, and to his own foster daughter Elizabeth Grant, the daughter of Peter’s brother James, but without naming his relationship to any of them. Historians are divided on the question, but he might have been the father of Peter Grant.
- Peter Grant (abt 1634-abt 1712), of Berwick, Maine; married 1664 Joanna (Ingersoll?), the widow of his brother James Grant “the Scotchman” and perhaps daughter of Lt. George Ingersoll, of Salem, Massachusetts. Peter Grant was captured at the Battle of Dunbar (1650) and deported to America.
- Capt. James Grant (1672-1735), of Kittery, Maine; married Mary Nason, daughter of Jonathan Nason, of Berwick, Maine. James Grant served as a Captain in the local militia during King Philip’s War.
- Capt. James Grant (1703-1765), of Kittery, Maine; married Sarah Joy, daughter of Ephraim Joy, of Kittery, Maine. James Grant was a member of the Louisburg Expedition against the French in 1745, and in 1757 Captain of the Montsweag Militia.
- Capt. Andrew Grant (1730-1809), of Woolwich, Maine; married Elizabeth Dunton, daughter of Timothy Dunton, of Westport, Maine. Andrew Grant served as a Captain in the Penobscot Regiment during the American Revolution. In 1777 his company marched to the Relief of Machias, Maine, and engaged the British at the Battle of Machias.
- Ruth Grant (1775-1860); married Malatiah Luce (1772-1849), of Vinalhaven, Maine. She was born the year before the American Revolution, went west with the Mormons to Nauvoo in 1838, and went from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City in 1850 at the age of 75. She died at Ogden, Utah in 1860 at the age of 85.
Coat of Arms
Grant of Freuchie: Gules three antique crowns Or. Crest: A burning hill proper. Supporters: Two savages proper. Motto: Stand fast.
The hill depicted in the crest is Craigeleachie (opposite Rothemurchus), where a fire was lighted to call the whole clan together in Strathspey, the seat of the Grants in Morayshire.
- Battle of Dunbar
- The Cromdale Text
- Descendants of Peter Grant The Scot Exile
- Exiles from Scotland
- The Monymusk Text
- Scottish Prisoners of War Society
- The Tullochgorm Text
- Mike Hamilton, ‘Scotch Prisoners’ captured 3 September 1650 at the Battle of Dunbar (n.d.). Contains the name of James Grant, but not Peter Grant.