The Clan History
The modern clan Chisholm or Siosal, in Inverness-shire, though claiming to be of Celtic origin, are, it is probable, descended from one of the northern collaterals of the original family of Chisholme of Chisholme in Roxburghshire, which possessed lands there as early as the reign of Alexander III.
Few families have asserted their right to be considered as a Gaelic clan with greater vehemence than the Chisholms, notwithstanding that there are perhaps few whose Lowland origin is less doubtful. Their early charters suffice to establish the real origin of the family with great clearness. The Highland possessions of the family consist of Comer, Strathglass, &c, in which is situated their castle of Erchless, and the manner in which they acquired these lands is proved by the fact, that there exists a confirmation of an indenture betwixt William de Fenton of Baky on the one part, and "Margaret de la Ard domina de Erchless and Thomas de Chishelme her son and heir" on the other part, dividing between them the lands of which they were heirs portioners, and among these lands is the barony of the Ard in Inverness-shire. This deed is dated at Kinrossy, 25th April, 1403.
In all probability, therefore, the husband of Margaret must have been Alexander de Chishelme, who is mentioned in 1368 as comportioner of the barony of Ard along with Lord Fenton.
The Chisholms came into prominence in the reign of David II, when Sir Robert de Chisholm married the daughter of Sir Robert Lauder of Quarrelwood, and ultimately succeeded him in the government of Urquhart Castle. In 1376 he occupied the important position of justiciar north of the Forth.
Wiland de Chesholm obtained a charter of the lands of Comer dated 9th April 1513. In 1587, the chiefs on whose lands resided "broken men", were called upon to give security for their peaceable behaviour, among whom appears "Cheisholme of Cummer". After the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, Erchless castle, the seat of the chief, was garrisoned for King James, and General Livingstone, the commander of the government forces, had considerable difficulty in dislodging the Highlanders. In 1715, Ruari or Roderick MacIan, the chief, signed the address of a hundred and two chiefs and head of houses to George the First, expressive of their attachment and loyalty, but no notice being taken of it, he engaged very actively in the rising under the Earl of Mar; and at the battle of Dunblane, the clan was headed by Chisholm of Croefin, an aged veteran, for which the estates of the chief were forfeited and sold. In 1727, he procured with several other chiefs, a pardon under the privy seal, and the lands were subsequently conveyed, by the then proprietor, to Roderick's eldest son, who entailed them on his heirs male. In 1745, this chief joined the standard of the Pretender with his clan, and Colin, his youngest son, was appointed colonel of the clan battalion. Lord President Forbes thus states the strength of the Chisholms at that period. "Chisholms - Their chief is Chisholm of Strathglass, in Gaelic called Chisallich. His lands are held crown, and he can bring out two hundred of the men".
Alexander Chisholm, chief of the clan, who succeeded in 1785, left an only child, Mary, married to James Gooden, Esq, London, and dying in 1793, the chiefship and estates, agreeably to the deed of entail, devolved on his youngest brother, William, who married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Duncan MacDonnell, Esq of Glengarry, and left two sons and one daughter. On his death in 1817 he was succeeded by the elder son, Alexander William, once member of parliament for Inverness-shire, who died, prematurely, in September 1838. He was succeeded by his brother, Duncan MacDonnell Chisholm, who died in London 14th September 1858, aged 47, when the estate devolved on James Sutherland Chisholm, the present Chisholm, son of Roderick, son of Archibald, eldest son of the above Alexander, who resides at Erchless Castle, Inverness-shire.
The common designation of the chief of the house is "The Chisholm", and whatever be its antiquity, it is a title which is very generally accorded to him, and, like the designation of "The O'Connor Don", has even been sanctioned by use in the senate. An old chief of the clan Chisholm once not very modestly said that there were but three persons in the world entitled to it - "The Pope, the King and the Chisholm".
One of the chiefs of this clan having carried off a daughter of Lord Lovat, placed her on an islet in Loch Bruirach, where she was soon discovered by the Frazers, who had mustered for the rescue. A severe conflict ensued, during which the young lady was accidentally slain by her own brother. A plaintive Gaelic song records the sad calamity, and numerous tumuli mark the graves of those who fell.
The once great family of Chisholme of Cromlix, sometimes written Cromleck, in Perthshire, which for above a century held the hereditary bailie and justiciary-ship of the ecclesiastical lordship of Dunblane, and furnished three bishops to that see, but which is now extinct, was also descended from the border Chisholmes.
Motto: Feros ferio - "I am fierce with the fierce"
Badge: A hand holding aloft a boar's head on the point of a dagger.
Names associated with the clan: CHESOLME CHEISHAME CHESOM CHEISHOLME CHESOME CHESEHELME CHESSAM CHESEIM CHESSAME CHESHELME CHESSEHOLME CHESHOLME CHISHOLM CHESIM CHISHOLME CHEISHELM CHISM CHESEHOLM CHISOLM CHESHOLM CHESOLM CHESAME CHESHELM CHESHOM CHISOLME CHISOMME CHISSEM CHISSIM CHISSOLME SHESHELM SCHISOLME SCHISHOLME SCHISHOME SHISHOLME SCHISOME
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