Clan Carmichael History

The name Carmichael is rooted in the soil of Scotland’s Southern Uplands, deriving from lands in Lanarkshire granted to Sir James Douglas in 1321. Sir John de Carmichael received the charter of these lands from William Earl of Douglas (sir James Nephew) towards the end of the 14th century as a reward for support of Douglas claim to throne of Scotland. In 1441 a barony was confirmed covering 14,000 acres.

Mauldslie Castle, Lanarkshire

Mauldslie Castle, Lanarkshire. Mauldslie was built for Thomas Carmichael, 5th Earl of Hyndford by Robert Adam between 1792-93


One of the clan’s most heroic figures is undoubtedly Sir John de Carmichael of Meadowflat. Sir John was part of a Scottish army who fought alongside the French against Henry V of England. At the battle of Beauge in 1421 Sir John came face to face in combat with Duke of Clarence, Henry V’s Brother commanding English Army. Sir John broke his spear unseating Clarence from his horse which resulted in the demoralised English army fleeing the field. This act is commemorated by the broken lance on the clan crest.

Sir John’s daughter Catherine was a mistress of James V, He built the Castle of Crawfordjohn as a secret meeting place. The affair produced an illegitimate son who was half brother to the ill fated Mary Queen of Scots. By way of a contrast to Mary’s well known Catholicism, another notable Carmichael; Peter Carmichael of Balmedie was implicated in the murder of Cardinal Beaton alongside John Knox – for his part in the murder he was sentenced to work on the galleys alongside Knox himself.

A later Sir John Carmichael was a strong ally of James VI, who knighted him during the Queen’s coronation. Appointed captain of King’s guard among many other honours, he met an unfortunate (but alas typical) fate. While arresting a number of Armstrongs during one of the many border disputes he was ambushed and murdered.

Carmichaels were on both sides during the Civil war. Lord Carmichael stood on side of Charles I but two of his sons fought for the parliamentarians while the other two were Royalists. The brothers were reunited tragically at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, where one of the royalist sons, John Carmichael was killed fighting against his own elder brothers, one of whom commanded the Clydesdale Regiment. The sixth Earl died in 1817 without issue so the family titles became dormant. Carmichael-Anstruthers became proprietors until 1980. The present Chief of the Clan is Richard Carmichael of Carmichael. 30th Chief of the Name and Arms and 26th Baron of the lands of Carmichael in Lanarkshire.