The name is derived from a Brethonic word "Ocel-fa" meaning a high plain. Ogilvie was a province of the Picts> in Angus (there is still a Glen Ogilvie there), ruled by a mormaer, who became the first earls in the area. In the 12th century Gillebride, Earl of Angus gave the lands of Ogilvy to his son who anglicised his name to Gilbert. The Ogilvys were hereditary sheriffs of Angus in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Early in the 15th century, Sir Patrick Ogilvy commanded the Scottish contingent fighting with Joan of Arc against the English and was called "Viscomte d'Angus". Later in the 15th century, Walter Ogilvy was Lord High Treasurer of Scotland. His eldest son, John, obtained the castle and lands of Airlie in 1459 and other descendants became Earls of Seafield and Deskford. John's descendants became Lord Ogilvy of Airlie. Ogilvys spread over large parts of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire.
The Jesuit martyr John Ogilvie was hanged at Glasgow Cross for refusing to accept the supremacy of King James VI> in spiritual matters. He was canonised in 1976, the last Scot to be so honoured.
The Ogilvys were staunch supporters of the Stewart monarchy and joined Montrose in his campaign; the earl's second son was killed at the Battle of Inverlochy in 1645. The Ogilvys had a violent feud with the Lindsays and there was a clan battle at Montrose in 1646 when the Ogilvys suffered heavy losses. A feud with the Campbells> resulted in the "Bonny Hoose o' Airlie" being burned to the ground.
Lord Ogilvy joined the 1715 Jacobite Uprising and his grandson raised a regiment in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie> in 1745.
Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, wife of Winston Churchill, was a descendant through the female line of David, 6th Earl of Ogilvy. The present chief served as Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth II and Angus Ogilvie, the chief's brother, married Princess Alexandra.
The Ogilvy clan motto is "À fin" which means "To the end".
Surnames regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Ogilvy clan include Airlie, Findlater, Gilchrist, MacGilchrist, Milne, Richardson and Storie.
Return to Index of Clans/Family Histories.
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