The Clan History
BEATON/BETHUNE: It would appear that most Beatons were originally Bethunes or MacBeths. As Bethune the name originates in Flanders from where it came to Britain with the Norman Conquerors of 1066. The progenitor of the Scottish line was established in Angus by the 12th century and his descendant, Alexander, after supporting Bruce in the struggle for Independence, was killed at Dupplin, near Perth, in 1332. Alexander's son married the heiress of Balfour in Fife where their descendants founded the various lines of the family which thereafter flourished in that county. The line provided a sequence of eminent churchmen/statesmen, among whom was Cardinal Beaton who was murdered at St Andrews in 1546 in the aftermath of his purge against heretics. Mary, a daughter of Bethune of Creich, was one of the 'Queen's Maries' who accompanied Mary Queen of Scots during her domicile in France. A son of the Bethune Laird of Balfour, having acquired a knowledge of medicine, was enticed to migrate to Skye, where he founded a dynasty of physicians which rivalled that of the legendary MacBeths, former physicians to the MacDonald Lords of the Isles. On the fall of the Lordship in 1493 many MacBeths removed to other parts of the western seaboard, and inland, where many adopted other names, including Beaton. The adoption of the name by the former physicians to the Lordship dates from at least the 16th century and this, allied with their dispersal throughout the Highlands, has led to many scholars confusing the two kindreds. Both lines were allied with varying clans, dependent on place of residence or prudence of the moment, but it should be recalled that both enjoyed a heritage as rich as any in the affairs of Scotland and were quite distinct from any other clan or family. No chief is known for the name and any clan allegiance would be determined by place of ancestral origin or affiliation. Evidence of origins in Mull, or the surrounding area, would indicate descent from those formerly allied with the Lordship, and later the Macleans, while associations with Skye would point to a further link with the Macdonalds, and to the MacLeods.
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