A Robert de Semple was recorded twice during the 13th century. Around 1246 he was a witness to a charter to Paisley Abbey, and then later, he witnessed a charter of the Earl of Lennox whilst acting as the chamberlain of Renfrew.
Clan Sempill were supporters of King Robert the Bruce during Scotland’s wars of independence from England in 14th century. For their services Bruce rewarded the two sons of Robert de Semple with land. The elder, called Robert, was given lands that had been taken off the Balliols near Largs in Ayrshire, whilst the younger, Thomas, was given half the lands of Longniddry.
At the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488, a fight during the rebellion against James III, the Sempills fought on the side of the king. Sir Thomas Sempill was killed in action. John, Thomas’s son, inherited his father’s estates and was made Lord Sempill by James IV. John died in 1513 when he was killed fighting against the English at the Battle of Flodden Field during the Anglo-Scottish Wars. His son William became the next Lord.
Robert Sempill, son of William, was the constable at the royal Castle Douglas, and in 1547 he led his Sempill men at the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh near Musselburgh, which saw the Scots crushed by the English. Robert was captured by the English. This was the last instance of a pitched battle between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England.
Initially the Sempills were loyal to Mary, Queen of Scots, but things changed and they ended siding against her at the Battle of Carberry Hill in 1567 and again a year later at the Battle of Langside. The Queen’s opponents were victorious on both occasions.
At the Battle of Culloden during the 1745-1746 Jacobite rebellion the Sempill clan fought with the British government. The Sempills fought in the in the 25th Regiment of Foot, which is known today as the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.
The current Clan Chief is Lord Sempill the 21st Chief.