This name originated from a place name "Airchart" on the northwest shore of Loch Ness (in the area in which Urquhart Castle> is now located, although the Urquharts only occupied it briefly). The name was recorded as far back as the days of St Columba in the 6th century. Translated from Gaelic, it means "by a rowan wood" or "a fort on a knoll." In old Scots spelling, "quh" represented "ch" as in "loch", hence the pronunciation sounding like "Urchart".
William de Urchard supported William Wallace> and defended Cromarty (north of Inverness) against the English and supported Robert the Bruce>. The Urquharts were rewarded by becoming hereditary sheriffs of Cromarty in the reign of David II>, son of Robert the Bruce. Other Urquharts became established in Moray and in Aberdeenshire.
In the 16th century, Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty is reputed to have had 25 sons, 7 of whom were killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 when it is estimated that 15,000 Scots were killed, 1500 captured and English losses amounted to only 500.
John Urquhart, the grandson of Thomas (above) translated the works of the French poet, Rabelais and still had time to fight at the battle of Worcester in 1651 in support of King Charles I>. John died in 1660 - supposedly from laughing so much at the restoration of the monarchy when Charles II regained the throne.
The Urquharts participated in the Jacobite Uprising> of 1715 and the clan chief died at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The line of the Urquharts of Cromarty died out in the 18th century but the chief of the clan Urquhart was re-established in 1959 when Wilkins Urquhart, descended from an Urquhart who emigrated to America in the 18th century, established his rights with the Lord Lyon. The seat of the clan is Castle Craig on the Cromarty Firth. It was presented to the 25th clan chief by Major Iain Shaw of Tordarroch - the Shaws had been a neighbouring clan of the Urquharts in earlier times.
The Urquhart clan motto is "Meane weil, speak weil and do weil" which means "Mean well, speak well and do well".
There are Urquhart clan Web sites here> and and here>.
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