Lorry Driver to Become New Chief of Clan Gunn
Clan Gunn is one of Scotland’s oldest Clans, it’s history dating back centuries. The Clan is descended from Vikings, claiming their descent from Sweyn Asleifsson, a warlike Norwegian known as “the Ultimate Viking”. This most northern Clan inhabited Orkney, Sutherland and Caithness. Clan Gunn has been without a chief for more than 200 years. The last Clan Chief was Morrison Gunn, an army officer who died childless, a succesor has not been found – untill now.
41 year old former Lorry driver William Murray Gunn has stepped forward to claim his right to be chieftan, ending years of dispute about who should be head of the family.
Clan Chief’s have historically been wealthy land owners, coming from a public school background and titled parantage. Gunn comes from a working class background. He is now in line to become the latest chief after the recent death of his father William Sinclair Gunn, a plasterer from Wick, who decided not to take up the title.
A geneologist claims that Gunn’s senior’s heritage can be traced directly back to the previous chief, Morrison Gunn, who died in Gibraltar in 1785. Also backing Gunn’s claim is Hugh Peskett, the Scottish editor of Burke’s Peerage, who said he has proved that the line of descent should pass from Morrison Gunn to William Murray Gunn’s father. Peskett states “There is totally sound genealogy that WS Gunn is the rightful chief,”.
In the Scotsman William Murray Gunn says he is now considering applying to the Lord Lyon to become the first recognised clan chief.
He said: “My dad was the direct line. The only thing that puts me off is that I’m just working class and I’m used to being myself and doing my own thing.
“But I’m semi-retired just now. Of course, it does excite me that I’m descended from clan chiefs. It is hard to put into words. But I’m just an average person.
“I mean, I was always happy being part of the family, but being a clan chief never came into my thoughts. But when it was looking like I was, it was exciting. You’re afraid of it too, because I don’t know what it entails.” He added: “I would like to take it and let the clan do what it wants; that’s the kind of person I am.”
It was during the 1990s, a genealogist discovered that William Murray Gunn’s great, great, great, great grandfather Robert Gunn, who was alive in the early 1800s, was a distant cousin of Morrison Gunn. They also found that Morrison Gunn and Robert Gunn had a common great grandfather, Donald Gunn, who lived between 1685 and 1709 and was clan chief. Gunn’s claim is not without rivals, while his father was alive the issue became complicated by
a claim from a Michael J Gunn, a historian descended from the same line.
Due to William Sinclair Gunn not being interested in the chieftainship, it was agreed to resign in favour of Michael J Gunn, but later reneged on that deal, according to Peskett, leaving the succession undecided. While having no official chief, the clan does have a respected commander, appointed by the Lord Lyon in 1972 to fill the gap.
The 76-year-old commander said he would welcome a resolution. “We are in limbo at the moment,” he said. “I was appointed in 1972 until such time as the chiefship was resolved and I’m still here. If they find a legitimate chief, that’s fine. The Lord Lyon is considering the questions that people have raised.”
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