In French the name Grant means "Grand" either "big or eminent". The Clan Grant can be traced to a Prince Wodine who came from Asia in the 600's and settled in Norway, building a large city. Wodine's descendants remained strong leaders in the area for centuries. Wodine's descendant "Earl Haakon of Trondelag" was a Viking leader. The Lord High Protector of Norway is known today as King Haakon II.He ruled Norway from 970 to 995. Known for his military strategy and legendary exploits he was given the name of Haakon the Grandt after he defended himself against an ambush armed only with a tree. The clan Motto of "Stand fast" was first associated with Haakon The Grandt.
Haakon's son Hemming married Adelstein, daughter of the first Christian King of Denmark. Though the influence of his wife Hemming decided to convert to Christianity. This decision prompted him to be banished from Norway. They settled in the Viking town of Dub Linh now called Dublin. Hemming and his wife had 6 children, 2 daughters who married and returned to Norway, and 4 sons who at the beginning of the 11th century all moved to Scotland. Their son Andlaw was the progenitor of Clan Grant.
The Gaelic name of Granndaich did not grow to Clan strength until the beginning of the 14th century. The home of Clan Grant is located in the region of Strathspey. Situated between two Craig Elachies (large rocks) on the River Spey. The rocks served as wonderful sentry posts and huge fires were kindled on top of them to signal for the clan to gather or as a sign of danger. The words Craig Elachie mean rock of alarm. A mountain on fire is pictured on the Clan Crest. The old Motto of Haakon "Stand Fast" became the Clan war cry.
The oldest home of the Clan Chiefs is Urquhart Castle Built during the Norman period, on the north shore of Lock Ness. For 2 hundred years the ownership of the dwelling changed hands regularly, bouncing back and forth between the British Crown and the Clan McDonald. In 1476 it was taken by Edward 1 and held for the Earl of Huntly. In 1509 King James IV granted keepership of the castle to the "Grant of Grant". For 35 years it served as the lordly seat of the Grants as Earls of Seafield. In the mid 1500's the McDonalds tried twice more to retake the castle. By the 1600's the Grant's had abandoned it. It has been in ruins for over 200 years
The Grants were strong supporters of Robert the Bruce; with his victory the Grants holdings in Strathspey were secure. This also served to firmly establish them as Highland Chiefs. The surrounding land of Spey provided the Grant's with men and cattle, further establishing them with power and influence. In 1536 Sir John Grant built Castle Freuchie, later renamed to Castle Grant.
In 1630Matthew Grant, a lineal descendant of the Highland Clans joined the followers of a Rev. John White. Rev. White one of the organizers of the "Massachusetts Bay Company" helped to gather over 1500 people, and 14 ships to become the "Winthrop Fleet". White concentrated on gathering people from the southwestern part of England. Rev. White never left England, but was called the "Patriarch of Dorchester" by his contemporaries. The group that Rev. White gathered chose Rev. John Warham and Rev. John Maverick to be their ministers. These people sailed on the first ship to leave England the "Mary and John" in March of 1630. Matthew, his wife Priscilla and daughter Priscilla were among the 140 passengers on this ship. In May 1630 the "Mary and John" dropped anchor, 70 days after leaving England.
Matthew and his family remained with the group in Dorchester Massachusetts. He was admitted a freeman there in 1631. Matthew's name appears in the Dorchester town records on 2 Nov 1635. Late in 1635 the group decided to move up the Connecticut Valley to settle Matianuck, now called Windsor. Matthew joined this group leaving his family behind in Dorchester though the winter, not retrieving them until April of 1636. The town records as recorded in 1640 list Matthew Grant and 54 other men as the first settlers of Windsor Connecticut.
Grant a carpenter by trade, was a prominent man in the new colony of Windsor. He held the office of Deacon of the First Church for a number of years, he was the second town clerk, recording all of the town vital statistics, land transactions, town business and church affairs He held this position for 30 years. In 1654 he compiled a 'Book or Records of Town Ways in Windsor. For many years he was the first principal surveyor laying out the town, and was select-man for several years.He was said to be a conscientious man in all of his duties both public and private, which showed in the careful notes he made as recorder. Often adding explanations or corrections. The "Old Church Records" of which Grant was the compiler are invaluable today. Matthew died in 1681 in Windsor, leaving the bulk of his estate valued as 119 lbs to his son John. Matthew was the 7th great grandfather of Ulysses S. Grant.