Chief of Clan Macnab Dies

Clan Macnab - Timor Omnis Abesto (Let fear be far from all)

Clan Macnab – Timor Omnis Abesto (Let fear be far from all)

We are very saddened to hear news that James Charles Macnab, 23rd Chief of Clan Macnab, died on January 11 aged 86. Macnab served as a member of the Royal Airforce, the Scots Guard and a Lieutenant in the Seaforth Highlanders, and played an active role on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.

Macnab was a much loved member of the community in Killin, the centre of Mcnab territory. He met with clansfolk regularly and was involved in the organisation of the International Gathering of the Clans in 1977 and the subsequent Gathering at the Scottish Homecoming of 2009. He is particularly remembered for being what a fellow chief affectionately termed “a dominant character” at the Lochearnhead Games, being chieftain on several occasions.

Born in 1926 in London, Macnab was the eldest son of James Alexander Macnab OBE TD, de jure the 21st Macnab of Macnab, and Ursula Watford (nee Barnett). His father won an Olympic gold medal in the coxless fours at the Paris Games in 1924. Young James was evacuated from London in 1940 to Ottawa, returning four years later as a war effort volunteer before enlisting as a soldier. He took part in active service in the final year of World War Two in India, Java and Singapore, before being commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders. In 1948 he transferred to the Federation of Malaya Police Force where he served for nine years first as Assistant Superintendent, then Acting Deputy Superintendent. He was involved in many gunfights against guerillas, and on one occasion rescued Ian Tedford, a then Ghurka officer. Colonel Tedford retired to Scotland, and always credited Macnab with saving his life.

Macnab retired from the Police Force and moved to Scotland in 1957, aged 31. He took up residence with his Great Uncle at Kinell House, eventually taking over the running of the estate and farms.  He married Diana Mary Anstruther-Gray, elder daughter of Lord and Lady Kilmany, on 11 April 1959 at St Andrews Episcopal Church. For a time they rented Auchtubhmor House, Balquhiddrer from Sir Gregor MacGregor of MacGregor, before purchasing Finlarig and Tirarthur Farms in Killin. He returned as a Captain in the 11th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders from 1960-1964, until his work as a Local Government Councillor prevented his regular attendance.

Following the death of his great uncle in 1970, Macnabb succeeded Archibald Corrie Macnab of Macnab as Chief. However he inherited high death duty liabilities, and in 1978 was forced to sell Kinell House and a large portion of the estate. Macnab stayed in the Killin region until 1985, when he moved his family to Leuchers (near St. Andrews).

History shows that Clan Macnab survived somewhat against the odds. Known as a “considerable clan” before the reign of 13th-century King Alexander III, the then Macnab chief fought against King Robert Bruce, having his lands and possessions ravaged in return. Further lands were lost when 6th chief Finlay Macnab mortgaged a great portion of territory to the Campbell of Glenorchy ancestor of the Marquis of Breadalbane. Support for the Royalist cause of Charles I led to Covenanters burning Macnab lands, and the clan was saved from extinction possibly only by support for the Hanoverian cause in the 1715 and 1745 Risings.

James Macnab is succeeded by his eldest son, James (Jamie) William Archibald Macnab. Jamie is the director at Savills in Edinburgh, and a member of the Royal Company of Archers, Queens Bodyguard in Scotland. All clansmen are welcome to attend the memorial service which will be held at the Killin Parish Kirk at 2pm on Friday 15th March 2013. The memorial will be followed by a procession to Innis Bhuie (The Macnab burial island) for internment of the ashes.

James Charles Macnab of Macnab, 23rd Chief of Clan Macnab 1926 - 2013

James Charles Macnab of Macnab, 23rd Chief of Clan Macnab 1926 – 2013


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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