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Clan Brodie

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Clan Brodie

Clan Brodie
Crest: A right hand holding a bunch of arrows all Proper
Motto Unite
District Moray
Plant badge Periwinkle
Alexander Brodie of Brodie
The 27th Chief of Clan Brodie
Historic seat Brodie Castle

Clan Brodie is a Scottish clan whose origins are uncertain. The first known Brodie chiefs were the Thanes of Brodie and Dyke in Morayshire. The Brodies were present in several clan conflicts, and during the civil war were ardent covenanters. They resisted involvement in the Jacobite uprisings, and the chief's family later prospered under the British Empire in colonial India.


  • Origins of the name 1
  • History 2
    • Origins of the clan 2.1
    • Early history 2.2
    • 15th- and 16th-century clan conflicts 2.3
    • 17th century and Civil War 2.4
    • 18th century and Jacobite uprisings 2.5
    • 19th century and India 2.6
    • Recent history 2.7
  • Traditions and legend 3
  • Branches 4
  • Clan profile 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9

Origins of the name

Early references to Brodie were written as Brochy, Brothy, Brothie, Brothu, Brode.[1][2] Various meanings to the name Brodie have been advanced, but given the Brodies uncertain origin, and the varying ways Brodie has been pronounced/written, these remain but suppositions. Some of the suggestions that have been advanced as to the meaning of the name Brodie are:

  • Gaelic for "a little ridge"; "a brow", or "a precipice";[3]
  • "ditch" or "mire", from the old Irish word broth;[4]
  • "muddy place", from the Gaelic word brothach;[5]
  • "a point", "a spot", or "level piece of land", from the Gaelic word Brodha;[6]
  • of Norman origin;[7] the French Dictionnaire de la Noblesse refers to a 13th-century Knight named Guy de Brothie, who married a daughter of the Knight Aimery de Gain from Limousin.[8]
  • or originated from the Pict name Brude, Bruide or Bridei from the Pictish King name Bridei.[9][10][11]
Map of Scotland showing the district of Moray, where the Brodies lived.


Origins of the clan

The origins of the Brodie clan are mysterious. Much of the early Brodie records were destroyed when Clan Gordon pillaged and burnt Brodie Castle in 1645. It is known that the Brodies were always about since records began. From this it has been presumed that the Brodies are ancient, probably of Pict ancestry, referred to locally as the ancient Moravienses. The historian Dr. Ian Grimble suggested the Brodies were an important Pictish family and advanced the possibility of a link between the Brodies and the male line of the Pictish Kings.[9][12][13]

Early history

The lands of Brodie {Map} are between Morayshire and Nairnshire, on the modern border that separates the Scottish Highlands and Moray. In the time of the Picts, this location was at the heart of the Kingdom of Moravia.[14] Early references show that the Brodie lands to be governed by a Tòiseach, later to become Thane.[15] Part of the Brodie lands were originally Temple Lands, owned by the order of the Knights Templar.[16] It is uncertain if the Brodies took their name from the lands of Brodie, or that the lands were named after the clan.[17]

After the Tòiseachs, whose names are lost, we find a reference to MacBeth, Thane of Dyke in 1262; next, in 1311, a Latin reference to Michael, filius Malconi, Thanus de Brothie et Dyke. It is unclear if Macbeth, Thane of Dyke, is of the same line as Michael. Accordingly, the Brodie Chiefs claim descent from Michael's referred father, Malcome, as First Chief and Thane of Brodie.[1][18][19]

Michael Brodie of Brodie received a charter from Robert the Bruce confirming his lands of Brodie.[20] The charter states that Brodie held his thanage of Brodie by the right of succession from his paternal ancestors.[20] The Brodie chiefs may have been descended from the royal Pictish family of Brude and there is so much evidence of Pictish settlement around Brodie that it has to be considered one reasonable explanation.[20]

Brodye tartan, as published in 1842 in the Vestiarium Scoticum.
Brodie hunting tartan

15th- and 16th-century clan conflicts

  • Johne of Brode of that Ilk, the 7th chief of Clan Brodie, assisted Clan Mackenzie in their victory in 1466 over Clan MacDonald at the Battle of Blar-na-Pairc. He took a distinguished part in the fight and behaved "to the advantage of his friend and notable loss of his enemy," his conduct produced a friendship between Clan Mackenzie and Clan Brodie, which continued among their posterity, "and even yet remains betwixt them, being more sacredly observed than the ties of affinity and consanguinity amongst most others," and a bond of manrent was entered into between the families.[21][22]
  • Thomame Brodye de iodem, the 11th chief, was killed defending against the English invasion at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.[24]
  • In 1550, Alexander "the rebel" Brodie of that Ilk, the 12th chief, with his clansmen, and the assistance of the Dunbars and Hays, attacked Clan Cumming at Altyre, seeking to slay their chief, Alexander Cumming of Altyre. As a result, he was put to the horn as a rebel for not appearing to a charge of waylaying, but was pardoned the year following.[25]
  • In 1562 the said Alexander "the rebel", joined [25]
Brodie Castle in 1976

17th century and Civil War

  • In 1645 Lord Lewis Gordon burnt down Brodie Castle, a Z-plan tower-house built in the mid-sixteenth century. The present building represents a restoration of that building, although the tower is believed to date back to 1430 and the newest parts were added 1820–30.[26] Nearby, on the Downie (Dounie) Hillock, there are the remains of an Iron Age fort.[27]
  • Alexander “the good” Lord Brodie of Brodie, the 15th chief, was a covenanter during Wars of the Three Kingdoms. An ardent presbyterian, his faith led him to be responsible for acts of destruction to Elgin Cathedral and its paintings. He was judge in trials of witchcraft, sentencing at least two witches to death. He was commissioner for the apprehension of Jesuits and catholic priests and the plantation of Kirks. He served on the committees: of war for Elgin, Nairn, Forres, and Inverness; of estates; of the protection of religion; and of excise. Lord Brodie was elected Commissary-General to the Army. He went twice to The Hague to seek the return of the exiled King Charles II of Scotland, first in 1649, then, with a lager party in 1650, returned successfully with the King. Oliver Cromwell was eager to enroll Brodie into his regime. Tempted, Lord Brodie resisted Oliver Cromwell's summons to discuss a union of Scotland and England, writing in his diary "Oh Lord he has met with the lion and the bear before, but this is the Goliath; the strongest and greatest temptation is last.". Lord Brodie was the target of an unsuccessful royalist plot for his capture in 1650. He was the author of a diary revealing a complicated, yet devote mind, torn by temptation and doing what he believed to be right.[28][29][30][31]
  • Alexander Brodie of Lethen went south with a contingent of men. He commanded a troop with some credit at the disastrous Battle of Dunbar (1650).[33]

18th century and Jacobite uprisings

Brodie chiefs family tree (click on to enlarge, then click again, and a third time for full view).
  • During the Jacobite rising of 1715, James Brodie of Brodie, the 18th chief, refused to surrender his horse and arms to Lord Huntley. Lord Huntley threatened the "highest threats of military execution, as that of battering down his house, razing his tenants, burning their corns, and killing their persons." if Brodie did not comply. Clan Brodie continued to resist, holding fort in the now rebuilt Brodie Castle. Unable to secure enough cannon and gunpowder to proceed with an assault, Lord Huntley was forced to abandon his threats.[34]
  • In 1788 Deacon William Brodie was executed. Deacon Brodie was a descendant of the Milton branch of Clan Brodie.[39]

19th century and India

  • Dukes of Gordon became extinct. Leaving Elizabeth the last Duchess of Gordon. After her husband's death, the Duchess joined the Free Church of Scotland, and was its most prominent benefactor. The Duchess was "much respected and beloved by the people of Huntly and the surrounding district." and lived "a remarkably unaffected, charitable, and Christian life".[40][41][42][43]
  • James Brodie of Brodie's son, James Brodie, younger of Brodie, went to India and worked for the East India Company. He built a mansion in Madras, on the banks of the river Adyar, and named it Brodie Castle (Madras) {Photo}. This property still stands and has become the College of Carnatic Music. James (the younger) died in India in a boating accident on the Adyar River in 1801/02.[44][45][46]
  • On the death of the Duchess of Gordon in 1864, The Brodies of Brodie became beneficiaries of the Gordon estate; inheriting much of the Gordon moveable property.[47][48]

Recent history

  • A rare pontifical document was discovered in Brodie Castle in 1972 and is now housed in the British Museum. The document is thought to date back to 1000AD, and shows evidence of associations with Durham.[13]
Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856), Macbeth Meeting the Three Witches 1855.

Traditions and legend

  • Tradition says a curse was pronounced against the Brodie Chiefs, "to the effect that no son born within the Castle of Brodie should ever become heir to the property." The legend of the source of this malediction was one of the early Brodie Chiefs "who induced an old woman to confess being guilty of witchcraft by offering her a new gown, and then, instead of fulfilling his promise, had her tied to a stake and burnt".[49]
  • The "blasted heath" where Macbeth is said to have met the three witches, is located on the lands of Brodie. The event was popularized in Shakespeare's play Macbeth. This location is referred to locally as Macbeth's Hillock.[50] (Map)
Arms of The Brodie of Brodie
Brodie of Brodie
Arms of The Brodie of Spynie
Brodie of Spynie
Arms of The Brodie of Lethen
Brodie of Lethen
Arms of The Brodie of Mylntoun
Brodie of Mylntoun
Arms of The Brodie of Mayne
Brodie of Mayne
Arms of The Brodie of Rosthorn
Brodie of Rosthorn
Arms of The Brodie of Idvies
Brodie of Idvies
Arms of Brodie of Boxford
Brodie of Boxford
Arms of Captain David Brodie
Cap. David Brodie
Arms of Brodie-Wood
of Keithick
Arms of Callender-Brodie of Idvies
of Idvies
Arms of Brodie-Innes of Milton Brodie
Brodie-Innes of
Milton Brodie


  • Brodies of Brodie, The Thanes and The Chiefs of Brodie
    • Brodies of Spynie
    • Brodies of Asleisk
  • Brodies of Lethen
  • Brodies of Muiresk
  • Brodies of Coltfield
  • Brodies of Milton
    • Brodies of Windy Hills
    • Brodies of Maine
    • Brodie-Inneses of Milton Brodie
    • Brodies of Eastbourne
    • Brodies of Fernhill
  • Brodies of Boxford, The baronets of Boxford
  • Brodies of Caithness
Periwinkle: plant badge of Clan Brodie.

Clan profile

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Genealogy of the Thanes and Brodies of Brodie
  2. ^ Shaw (1882), p.238
  3. ^ Arthur (1857), p.82.
  4. ^ Shaw (1882), p.248-249
  5. ^ "Brodie Name Meaning and Origin". Retrieved 7 February 2008. 
  6. ^ Matheson (1905), p.119
  7. ^ Meirs (2006), p.301.
  8. ^ de la Chenaye Desbois (1774), p.14, at IV Aimery de Gain;
  9. ^ a b Grimble (1980), p. 52.
  10. ^ Brodie, James (1991), p.1.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Rampini (1897), p.257-258
  13. ^ a b c d "Clan History". Retrieved 7 February 2008. 
  14. ^ Bain (1893), p.54.
  15. ^ Bain (1893), p.143.
  16. ^ Bain (1893), p.134-135
  17. ^ Rampini (1897), p.258.
  18. ^ Bain (1893), p.91-92.
  19. ^ Barrow (1998), p.58, p.70, p.72 and Appendix: Moray-Brodie, Moray-Dyke
  20. ^ a b c Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 80 - 81.
  21. ^ Mackenzie(1894).
  22. ^ The Celtic magazine, p.166-167.
  23. ^ Mackenzie (1881), p.98.
  24. ^ Bain (1893), p.221
  25. ^ a b Bain (1893), p.230
  26. ^ "Site Record for Brodie Castle; Brodie Castle Policies; Brodie Estate". Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. . Castle Brodie is at grid reference
  27. ^ "Site Record for Downie Hillock; Dounie Hillock". Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. . Downie Hillock fort is at  
  28. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry: Brodie Brody, Alexander, of Brodie, Lord Brodie (1617–1680)[9]
  29. ^ Brodie of Brodie (1863).
  30. ^ Bain (1893), p.258-287.
  31. ^ Lord Brodie: his life and times, 1617–80. With continuation to the Revolution (1904)[10]
  32. ^ Bain (1893), p.259-272.
  33. ^ Bain (1893), p.274.
  34. ^ Bain (1893), p.302-304
  35. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry: Brodie, Alexander, of Brodie (1697–1754)[11]
  36. ^ genealogy of the Brodies of Muiresk
  37. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry: Brodie, David (1707?–1787), naval officer [12]
  38. ^ Bain (1893), p.433-434
  39. ^ Genealogy of the Brodies of Milton
  40. ^ Bain (1893), p.389-390.
  41. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry: Gordon née Brodie, Elizabeth, duchess of Gordon (1794–1864)[13]
  42. ^ Electric Scotland-Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland, Chapter III – Earldom and Earls of Huntly, Section XIX [14]
  43. ^ Gordon (1865).
  44. ^
  45. ^ The Hindu, Monday, 13 Mar 2006
  46. ^ Brodie,James (1991), p.132-134.
  47. ^ Gordon, Elizabeth, The Most Noble, Duchess of; date 22 April 1864; T. Misc. Papers 22 April 1864; SC1/37/53/pp523-584; Will can be accessed online at link [15]
  48. ^ for info on "moveable property" see link
  49. ^ Shaw (1882), p.236-237
  50. ^ Shaw (1882), p.173-174, p.218-219.
  51. ^ Paul (1893), p. 28, p. 41, p. 44.
  52. ^ Reference for Brodie arms: Heraldry-online, Brodie Arms, Officially Recorded in Scotland [16]
  53. ^
  54. ^ "Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs – Members of the Standing Council". 
  55. ^ a b Shaw (1882), p.252.
  56. ^ The scottish tartans (1800), p. 23.


  • Grimble, Ian (1980). Clans and Chiefs (illustrated ed.). London: Blond & Briggs.  
  • Rampini, Charles (1897). A History of Moray and Nairn. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood. 
  • Bain, George, F.S.A., Scotland (1893). History of Nairnshire. Nairn, Scotland: Nairn Telegraph Office. 
  • Brodie, Alexander; Brodie, James (1863).  
  • Brodie of Eastbourne, William (1862). the Genealogy of the Brodie Family from Malcolm Thane of Brodie, Temp. Alexander III, A.D. 1249—85, to the Year 1862, compiled from various documents and authorities. Sussex, England. 
  • Brodie, James (1991). Brodie Country. UK: Galloper press.  
  • Barrow, G. W. S.; Grant, Alexander; Stringer, Keith John (1998). "Thanes Thanages, from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Centuries". Medieval Scotland: Crown, Lordship and Community (illustrated ed.). Edinburgh:  
  • Shaw, Lachlan; Gordon, James Frederick Skinner (1882). The history of the Province of Moray : comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the County of Inverness and a portion of the County of Banff, all called the Province of Moray before there was a division into counties. Vol. 2. London, England: Hamilton, Adams. 
  • Arthur, William (1857). An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. Sheldon, Blakeman & Co. 
  • Miers, Richenda (2006). "Clans and Families". Scotland's Highlands & Islands (5 illustrated ed.). New Holland Publishers.  
  • Matheson, Donald (1905). The place names of Elginshire. Stirling: E. MacKay. 
  • de la Chenaye Desbois, François Alexandre Aubert (1774). Dictionnaire de la noblesse (in French). Tome VII (Seconde ed.). Paris, France: Antoine Boudet, Libraire, Imprimeur du Roi, rue Saint Jacques. 
  • Mackenzie, Alexander (1894). History of the Mackenzies, with genealogies of the principal families of the name. Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie. 
  • Mackenzie, Alexander (1881). History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles. Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie. 
  • The Celtic magazine; a monthly periodical devoted to the literature, history, antiquities, folk lore, traditions, and the social and material interests of the Celt at home and abroad. Vol. 3. Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie. 1878. 
  • Gordon, Elizabeth Brodie, Duchess of Gordon (1865).  
  • The scottish tartans, with historical sketches of the clans and families of Scotland (illustrated by William Semple ed.). Edinburgh, Scotland: W. & A.K. Johnston. 1800. 

External links

  • – The Clan Brodie Society of the Americas
  • – Brodie Family Genealogy, Information, & Wiki
  • Brodie heraldry
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