We are finally having some results come in that begin…..just begin, mind you….to tell us something.

DF McNab is a known descendant of the cadet house of Innishewan. The exact point in time where the Innishewans ‘came off’ from the main line of the Chiefs is not known. At the latest, it could have been circa 1500, but most likely it was 1300 or much earlier. DF’s results (at 37 markers) suggest a 45% chance that he and Jamie Macnab of Macnab share a common direct-line male ancestor within 24 generations (about 720 years, so around 1300). So we can say this result, while not conclusive of anything, is consistent with the history we have.

DF’s closest matches are with GJ (71% probability they have a direct line male ancestor in common in the past 240 years; 99.8% probability they share one in the past 720 years – GJ lists his earliest known male ancestor as a James McNab); V (at 75%); and a McGregor (at 72%).

Jamie, our chief, has no really close matches at all – not just within our group but with all testers with FTDNA. Within our group, his closest match at 37 markers is also with McGregor (78% within 24 generations); V (at 61%) and then with both K and DF (45%) with M just behind (at 44%).

K and V show clear evidence of being related, with a 58% chance they share a common direct-line male ancestor within 4 generations, and a 99% chance they share one within 16 generations. (I’ve just confirmed that V’s gggg-uncle is K’s ancestor – awaiting further details!)

We have an Abbott who has joined the project because his family lore is that his ancestors were once Macnabs, but changed their name on coming to America. While he doesn’t show any close connections, his results at 37 markers suggest about a 45% chance he shares a direct-line male ancestor within 24 generations with M and DF, and with McGregor.

A. McNab comes from a line of McNabs who believe they may have no blood connection with the main body of the clan, being descended from a different abbot altogether from the Forfar area. Results are inconclusive, but do show an approximately 65% probability of sharing a direct-line male ancestor with GJ and V within 24 generations.

It is important to stress here that these are yDNA results – meaning they tell us only about the DNA of each individual’s father’s father’s father’s…..etc. So these probable male ancestors in common can ONLY be Macnabs….which makes all of this incredibly exciting and incredibly relevant.

We hope to have results soon from a known Acharn descendant, and I’m working on Barravorich, Barrachastalain, and the French McNab line. We NEED to get as many McNabs as possible to test – the more results we have, the more we’ll learn!

Please see earlier post on this page for details on how to join the project; if you have questions after reading that post, feel free to email me at macnabhistory@gmail.com

Loraine Smith
Shennachie to the Chief of Clan Macnab
July 31, 2016


 Macnab Pistols





A clansman has acquired an interesting pair of flintlock belt pistols, which bear the Macnab crest and motto.

They were made about 1770 by Joseph Adams of Birmingham and are very finely decorated with silver furniture.

They have been adapted in contemporary times with the addition of a belt hook – as that was how pistols were worn with Scottish dress.

The pistols must have belonged to a wealthy Macnab who was entitled to use the coat of arms
– maybe Francis Macnab 16th chief, in his early days ( he would have been about 36 when they were made ) – but they are not the pistols he is carrying in his portrait by Raeburn. .

Interestingly, a close look at the portrait shows that Francis is not carrying a pair of pistols, as one would expect, but two quite different ones. The one on his shoulder belt is a classic Scottish ramshorn butt pistol , but in his right hand he is carrying a small screw barrelled pocket pistol. Both of these weapons would have been made decades before the picture was painted about 1813. In the National Gallery of Scotland commentary on the portrait, they note “ at the right cuff of the coat MacNab’s fist emerges holding a tiny pistol “.

The pistols illustrated came from Blair Atholl castle but their archive s contain no information on when or from where, they acquired them.

One possible source is from the sale of the contents of Kinnell House in 1935 and the owner would be very grateful for any information on that sale, who were the Auctioneers, or about the contents of the house before the sale.

Anyone with information about the pistols, or the 1935 Kinnell Estate sale, please contact macnabhistory@gmail.com




Greenville Highland Games


Just a reminder to everyone that the Greenville Highland Games are coming up soon – May 27 and 28 – in Greenville, South Carolina.

Our Clan Chief, Jamie Macnab of Macnab has been invited to be the honored guest! Please see the games website  at         www.gallabrae.com                 for details of the events, tickets, etc.


Also, we will be having the first official meeting of the newly reformed and incorporated Clan Macnab Society.

There will be a Clan brunch hosted by the gracious John and Darleen McNabb on Friday May 27th at 11AM. All are welcome, but you MUST RSVP to ClanMacnabSociety@gmail.com. Please only RSVP is you are CERTAIN of your attendance! Their home is in The Biltmore Estate at Ashville, NC. The address is 17 Eastwood Road, Biltmore Forest, NC. If you plan on attending please RSVP soon with specific names and numbers. We need a headcount. ClanMacnabSociety@gmail.com

We hope to see you there!


WANTED : John NcNab of Callander



John McNab of Callander was Historian for the first Clan Macnab Association in the UK, and wrote the first Clan History, published in 1907.

I have several of his letters, which make it clear that he had a collection of Macnab family trees (mostly for the Cadet House of Innishewan), and that he carried on correspondence with many clansmen all over the world.

He was born at Bridge End, Callander, Scotland Nov 17, 1862 to Dr. Peter McNab and Jean Gordon McIntosh (after Dr. Peter’s death, Jean married a Robert McAlpine, Jr.), and died unmarried May 21, 1935 at 2 Bridge St. in Callander. He is buried, with several generations of his family, at the Little Leny Buchanan Burial Grounds.

I believe his only sister, Jeannie Gordon McNab, also died unmarried, however, his father, Dr. Peter McNab, had several brothers and sisters, who may have had children:

  • Beatrice born 1812
  • Mary born 1825
  • James born 1815 who died in Ontario, Canada
  • Alexander born 1818
  • Robert born 1820
  • John born 1827 .

Dr. Peter McNab’s parents were John McNab, farmer of Callander and Christian (or Christine) Buchanan.

I am hoping to locate John McNab’s papers and would appreciate it if anyone with knowledge of this family, particularly of living descendants, would contact me at macnabhistory@gmail.com


Loraine Smith

Shennachie to the Chief

Scottish referendum: Clan chiefs agree to stay neutral on independence

The heads of all the clans and members of The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs

The heads of all the clans and members of The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs

Jamie Macnab, the 24th chief of the Clan Macnab, is staying out of the Scottish independence debate for good reason. “The Macnab clan were on the English side at Bannockburn,” he says. “We were apparently a huge and very powerful clan prior to Bannockburn, but now we’re a very small clan, probably as a result of the side we took… I don’t think we’re very good at choosing any of our battles.”

His reluctance to be drawn on which way he will be voting on 18 September is shared by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs (SCSC), of which about 120 of Scotland’s 140 clan heads are members. This week it issued a statement saying it would be remaining neutral on the issue of independence.

“2014 will be a great year for clanship for many people and a momentous year with the referendum,” it read. “There are varying views amongst chiefs and clans over what is best for Scotland. Because of these differing opinions, the SCSC will not comment on independence.”

The announcement was included in a press statement welcoming Bannockburn Live, a two-day jamboree to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English in 1314. Taking place over a weekend of 28 and 29 June at the famous site near Stirling, it will include the largest battle reenactment ever seen in Scotland. The symbolism of the event has not been lost on supporters of the Yes campaign.

Many clan chiefs plan to attend and one might assume that it could prove to be an awkward social occasion for the Macnabs, given their history. But their 51-year-old chief, an estate agent who lives in Edinburgh and specialises in the sale of country houses, told The Independent the idea that Scotland’s clan leaders are automatically more likely to side with Alex Salmond on the issue of independence is nonsense. “There’s an assumption that chiefs would be tartan-wearing, claymore-bearing people who are into a Yes vote – I don’t think that’s true at all,” he says.

It is an opinion shared by Sir Malcolm MacGregor, 55, who became the 24th chief of his clan in 2003, and who is also the convenor of the SCSC. “Outwardly, I suppose we wear the attire – kilts and tartan – which might designate a nationalist, but I would never suggest that because of that the clans are biased towards the nationalists,” he says. “If you look at the history of Scotland and the clans you will find many who are in fact unionists. I’d be wary of saying ‘If you’re in a kilt, you must be a nationalist’.”

Sir Malcolm also refuses to say which way he will be voting, but Danus Skene, 70, who has been chief of the Clan Skene since 1994, is a committed supporter of independence. “I’m a patron of Yes Scotland. For me, it’s a matter of management common sense,” he says, adding that he believes the concept of Britishness has “fulfilled its usefulness and its relevance”. He believes the majority of the other chiefs are likely to vote No, but says his own decision had nothing to do with his status as the leader of a clan.

Of course, political differences among Scotland’s clan leaders are nothing new. While some supported the 1707 union with England, others opposed it. The Campbell clan also played an important role in defeating the Jacobite rebellion of 1715.

These days though, some of the chiefs do not even live in Scotland. While some still own grand estates which are important to Scottish tourism – Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the historic seat of the MacLeod clan, is one example – for the majority their main task is replying to emails from their enthusiastic namesakes scattered around the globe.

“An academic in the west coast of America asked me within a month of me being chief to write an address to be read out at his son’s wedding,” says Jamie Macnab. “Another amusing one was a clansman who wanted a Macnab crest tattoo put on his arm and wanted to check he was using the right version, so he referred it to me for approval.”

If the chiefs do have any real influence any more, it is more likely to be found overseas than at home. In North America in particular, Scottish heritage is an enormous draw for the diaspora and when invited to join their kinsfolk, clan leaders are treated like celebrities.

“I’m asked on a regular basis to go to America, to Canada, to Australia or South Africa to speak at dinners as a guest of honour,” says Sir Malcolm. “That is very much part of a modern role – you’re an ambassador for Scotland, basically. People overseas will be far more interested to hear a clan chief speak on matters, say to do with independence, that perhaps they would a politician.”

Taken from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/scottish-referendum-clan-chiefs-agree-to-stay-neutral-on-independence-9544161.html

Clan Macnab in The Australian Scottish Banner

This arrived in the post this morning.
View the full article as a pdf >