Lorry Driver to Become New Chief of Clan Gunn


Clan Gunn has been without a chief for over 200 years

Clan Gunn has been without a chief for over 200 years

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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About Amanda Moffet

I run www.scotclans.com with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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5 thoughts on “Lorry Driver to Become New Chief of Clan Gunn

  1. J. GUNN

    Bletherskite, exactly that what this lorry driver story is. Me an my father have been studying our roots and how the Gunns arrived from Sweden to Finland, where we live, a couple of hundred a years ago. I believe that soon we will have strong enough evidence to prove that we have the clan leadership.

    Just a couple of points that we have found so far. ! know that during the reformation my ancesters where recruited as mercenaries to fight for the church and that is how we ended up in Finland. Secondly the second name for all the first male born Gunns in Finland has always been Johannes, or John; brother of James. In addition my My grandfather´s first name was Karl = Earl, My name is Jari; Jarl in Swedish e.g. Earl. Thirdly my father told me that in his childhood there was a group of people looking for the chief of the clan Gunn around Scandinavia, but they ignored it because they thought of it as a joke. In addition this happened shortly after the 2nd WW, which made them question the true intent of these people. With Best regards, J.J. Gunn

  2. Jim Loftus

    CELTIC BLOOD, a novel available through amazon deals with the early history of clan Gunn. It uses the scant historical record to weave a story of heroism and hardship, and explores the viking connection of clan Gunn. Whoever the founder was, to gain prominence he must of been an intelligent hardy warrior who inspired feelings of loyalty from his friends and to find his way in a hostile dangerous world where only the fittest survived and only the very fightest of all, created a name that would live on proudly for generations, right up to the present.

    Jim Loftus

  3. Robert Voyles

    Casting about for a new pen-name, I settled on Gunn Sinclair. See the website; I’m on a sort of mission to show that it was not the Vikings who came to Minnesota in 1362, leaving behind the Kensington Runestone. No, it was most likely Templars/Cistercians…referencing the HOOKED X. I believe the Knights Templar (including Gunns and Sinclairs) meant for there to be a New Jerusalem in medieval Minnesota. We have plenty of related evidences besides the runestone: metal battle weapons, Norse-type rock carvings, and plenty of stonehole rocks! Indeed, the runestone was surrounded by a dozen or more. There are many great photos of Runestone Park at the website. Thank you for your interest. Email me with any questions. Bob Voyles, Author & Publisher.

  4. Carol Taylor

    well..just read the article about the lorry driver..well done l say..if he truly is the right descendant then it just goes to prove it takes all types..l last attended a Gunn clan gathering back in 09 and like to think of all of them as my distant (very distant) cousins..good luck to William..always thought it was a good name, thats why l named my youngest that, it will be a good strong leading name for a clan..good luck from down under..Carol..

  5. paul andrew sandison

    slange. I like the fact that a ‘lorry driver’, is to be the nu clan cheiftan. I drive non h.g.v., nad have now something in common, with my chief.
    good luck,


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