King Alexander III died in 1286 throwing the country into a long lasting turmoil and an ongoing conflict with England as its larger neighbour fought to dominate the countries future. With the murder of the Red Comyn at the hand of Robert the Bruce in 1306 and Bruce’s rise to power the Strachan’s found themselves on the wrong side of history. The Comyns and Strachans had possible blood ties through the Earldom of Buchan. Bruce had a war on two fronts; both against the English and also against the supporters of Comyn’s heirs’ claim to the throne. Bruce waged a ‘scorched earth’ war against Comyn’s supporters. Having consolidated the lowlands, Bruce turned his attention north and devastated the area around Kincardineshire, ending support for Comyn in the North-East. The ‘de Strachan’ Barons were initially disinherited in 1308 after being defeated at the Battle of Inverurie.
At the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 the Strachan’s may have been among forces that had taken the field on the English side but along with other Scot’s nobles defected over to Bruce on the eve of the battle.
This didn’t aid the Strachan cause and in the years after the battle Bruce set about taking revenge on those who had stood against his rise to power. In 1316 he granted the barony of Strachan to Sir Alexander Fraser.
After Robert the Bruce’s son David was captured by the English the family was reinstated. By 1355, almost all the families which had formerly benefited from the Strachans had renewed their allegiance, gaining various lands and privileges. After this time, the five most influential Strachan Houses were Thornton, Monboddo, Glenkindie, Carmyllie, and Lenturk.
Adam Strachan married Margaret Mar, and was subsequently granted the lands of Glenkindie. Strachans are now recognized as a sept of the Tribe of Mar.
Sir James Strachan of Monboddo married Agnete, heiress of the Barony of Thornton in Kinkardine. His elder son Duncan inherited the lands of Monboddo, while the younger son took the lands of Thornton.In 1625 the Strachan Baronetcy, of Thornton, was created in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia for Alexander Strachan, who was a Commissioner of the Exchequer and also a favourite of King Charles I. Alexander’s son was Colonel Alexander Strachan, a cavalry officer who distinguished himself by defending Thornton against the Marquis of Montrose in 1646. After transferring his allegiance to Charles II in 1650, he was appointed Commissioner and advisor to the King. The Baronetcy subsequently passed into the line of Monboddo in 1663.
Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, 6th baronet was created a Knight of the Bath after distinguishing himself at the Battle of Trafalgar, and was granted Freedom of the City of London in 1810.
The title and Baronetcy of the Strachan clan became dormant in 1845 after the last Chief, Admiral Sir Richard John Strachan died in 1828 leaving no heir. The name is now recognized as an Armigerous clan and the current head of the clan is Major Benjamin Strachan who has written a history of the clan, entitled ‘A History of the Strachans’.
Thornton Castle, 2 miles west of Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire was formerly the Clan Seat. It passed into the ownership of Alexander Crombie in 1804 and is still inhabited.