Sir William de Strivelyn, grandson of John de Strivelyn, had two sons through which the chieftainship passed. For four generations the line went down through Sir William’s eldest son, also called William, and then, through lack of a male heir, it passed to the grandson of Sir William’s youngest son, John. John de Strivelyn was the sheriff of Dunbartonshire, as well as the governor of the royal Dumbarton Castle, which he held for James I. The king also appointed John Armour Bearer and Comptroller of the Royal Household, and in 1430 he was knighted. John’s son William was given the lands of Glovat, which had been held by the Earl of Lennox.
The lands of Keir in Perthshire were acquired by the Stirling family in the mid 1400s.
George, William’s son, became chief of the clan after the death of his father sometime in the first half of the 16th century, and he also held Dumbarton Castle. However, George fell out of favour with the King’s regent in 1526 when he fought on the losing side of the Earl of Lennox in a battle at Linlithgow Bridge, which was part of a power struggle for the control over the young James V. George’s lands were forfeited, but restored the year later. At the disastrous 1547 Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, George led his clansmen into battle against the English. He would later die from the wounds he received at the fight.
A feud existed between the Stirling clan and Clan Kincaid, which came to a head in 1563 when the two families battled. The chief of the Stirlings, Malcolm, lost an arm in the fight, however, this did not prevent him from going into battle again the next time the two met in 1581. This time the Kincaid chief was killed by a Stirling of Glovat.
Sir Mungo Stirling, the great-grandson of George, was a Royalist and strong supporter of Charles I (who had knighted him) during the Civil War. At the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645 Clan Stirling fought under the command of James Graham the 1st Marquess of Montrose. The battle ended in a decisive victory for Sir David Leslie’s Covenanter army.
In 1666 Charles II created George Stirling, Sir Mungo’s son, a Baronet of Nova Scotia.
During the Jacobite Uprisings, the Stirlings continued to remain loyal to the House of Stuart, supporting the Jacobite cause. This support saw the chief of the time, James Stirling, imprisoned and his lands forfeited, but he was later released and his estates returned.
Perhaps the best-known Stirling is Sir David Stirling. Sir David was the founder of the British Special Forces unit, the 22nd Special Air Service (SAS). During the Second World War, in the North African theatre, Stirling commanded the unit, whose actions behind enemy lines severely hindered the activities of General Rommel’s army. Francis John Stirling of Cadder is the current chief of the Clan Stirling.