One of the oldest Scottish clans
, members of Clan Lamont can trace their history back to the Celtic
tribe of Dal Riata
. When Fergus Mor Mac Erc
, leader of the Scots
and founder of the kingdom of Dalriada
arrived in Cowal
, there came with him decendants of Anrothan O'Neill
, the last King of Tara
. Of the line of Anrothan, there was born Aodha Alainn O'Neil
. He had three sons: Gillachrist
, and Dunslebhe
. Dunselbhe's sons were Ewen
(progenitor of the MacEwens
) and Fearchar
, progenitor of the Lamonts.
Originally called MacErchar, the name Lamont came from Sir Laumon, chief of the clan in the early 1200's. (in Gaelic, the clan name can be rendered Mac Laomain Mor Chomhail Uile - The Great Mac Lamont of All Cowal). Clan Lamont has one of the earliest documents confirming its existence - a deed granting land to the monks of Paisley Abbey signed by Sir Laumon in the early 13th century and surviving to this day. Soon after, fleeing a charge of murder, one of the sons of Laumon founded the Lyons of Glamis, from whom the Queen Mother is decended. One the stories illustrating the principles of highland hospitality involves the Lamonts as well - in the early 17th century, the chief of the clan was out hunting with the MacGregors. When a fight broke out, he stabbed MacGregor the Younger of Glenstrae, killing him. Fleeing for his life from enraged MacGregor clansmen, he arrived (without his knowledge) at the house of the slain youth's father, MacGregor the Elder of Glenstrae. Informing MacGregor that he was being pursued by a band of men intent on taking his life, MacGregor offered him protection. When the men arrived at Glenstrae to inform MacGregor that his son had been murdered, both discovered the truth. In accordance with the rules of hospitality, however, MacGregor the Elder let the chief go free.
Unfortunately, the history of the clan tends to be a history of poor decisions. When Robert the Bruce was pressing his claim to the Scottish throne (as dramatized in Braveheart), the Lamonts threw their weight behind the MacDougalls of Lorne in their bid for the crown. Following the victory of Robert the Bruce in the Battle of Bannockburn, the Lamonts lost much land to the Campbells, with whom there had always been much ill will, in spite of considerable intermairrage. Later, in the time of Sir John, 14th chief of the clan, the Lamonts fought on the side of Charles I in the English Civil War. This decision would lead to the worst disaster faced by the clan. In 1646, following the Battle of Naseby and the surrender of King Charles to the Scots, the Campbells (who had opposed King Charles' efforts to reform the Scottish church) laid siege to the Lamont stronghold of Ascog and the clan seat at Toward. After some time, the Lamonts agreed to surrender under terms of safe conduct and release. The Campbells, in one of the many acts of betrayal which darken their history, ignored the terms which had been agreed to and slaughtered several hundred (some sources say 200 total, others say 900 with 200 of those being "special gentlemen" of the clan, while still others say 100, with 26 of those being "special gentlemen" of the clan). Sir John himself was imprisoned in Dunstaffnage. The chief's immediate family, however, was more fortunate. Mary Lamont was able to flee with her sons to Northern Ireland, changing her and her sons' surnames as they hid from Campbell retribution. (On a personal note, they succeeded - I am born of the line she and her sons founded in Ireland which later emigrated to America).
As a final blow to the clan, thirty years after the massacre of 1646, a group of Lamonts on the Isle of Mull were slaughtered by government forces for their beliefs. They were the last practitioners of the Druidic religion, keeping the traditions alive since they came to Scotland. Upwards of fifty Lamonts were killed, with only a few escaping the slaughter.
Following the massacre at Toward and Ascog, the clan seat moved to Ardlamont, and the clan finally had the sense and/or good luck to stay out of any further losing causes, avoiding both the first and second Jacobite uprisings. In turn, the Lamonts produced many fine members of society, including Colin Lamont (Astronomer - 1754-1851), Major General John Lamont (1773-1829), Thomas W. Lamont (Wall Street financier in the early 20th century), John Swainson (Governor of Michigan in the 1960's), Norman Lamont (British Counsellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher), John McCain (Arizona senator and U.S. presidential candidate), and - according to tradition - Queen Elizabeth II (the Queen Mother is a Lyon of Glamis).
The clan crest is a dexter hand, coupled at the wrist, surrounded by the clan motto Ne parcas nec spernas (Neither spare nor spurn).