The surnames Malcolm and MacCallum are both derived from the Gaelic word "calaman" which means a dove; this came to symbolise the Holy Spirit and the Latin equivalent was "columba" - the name of the Irish Saint Columba> who established the monastery on Iona. Followers of Columba were "maol Chaluim" which gradually became the name Malcolm. While the two names may be from the same roots, there was no genealogical relationship between the two (although an early MacCallum chief did change his name to Malcolm, confusing the situation).
From the 10th century onwards, there were four kings named Malcolm and there were three landowners named "Maucolum" ( from Berwick, Perth and Montrose) who were signatories to the Ragman Roll> in 1296.
The clan MacCallum became established in northern Argyll and in 1414 Sir Duncan Campbell granted lands to them at Craignish peninsula, not far from Kilmartin> where family legend says one of the early branches of the name became established. The Campbells> also made Ranald MacCallum hereditary keeper of Craignish castle. The Campbells also granted land to Donald, son of Gillespie MacCallum, another branch of the clan in Duntrune, adding to property already owned at Poltalloch in Argyll. The Poltalloch MacCallums have held the chieftainship of the clan from that time but later adopted the name Malcolm. The 15th Laird of Poltalloch was raised to the peerage as Lord Malcolm of Poltalloch late in the 19th century. However, the home of the present clan chief is now Duntrune Castle.
In the middle of the 17th century, Zachary MacCallum met a party of MacDonalds> (enemies of the Campbells) and killed seven of them before being scythed down. Neil MacCallum, a nephew of Zachary, served in the French navy and is reputed to have been the father of the Marquis de Montcalm, who defended Quebec against the Highlanders who scaled the Heights of Abraham there, bringing to an end French rule in Canada.
The surname Malcolm is associated initially with Dunbartonshire and Stirling in the 14th century and later in Dumfriesshire. In the 18th century, George Malcolm of that county had three sons, all of whom became Knights of the Order of the Bath, two as generals and one as an admiral. General Sir John Malcolm was the British representative in the court of the Shah of Persia and published a history of that country in 1815 which is still highly regarded. His brother, Admiral Sir Pultney Malcolm commanded St Helena during Napoleon's exile there after the Battle of Waterloo.
The Malcolm/MacCallum clan motto is "In ardua tendit" which means "He has attempted difficult things".
Malcolmson is regarded as a sept (sub-branch) of the Malcolm/MacCallum clan.
Return to Index of Clans/Family Histories.
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