The Alden - Byram Family Tree & Associated Families:Information about Urquharts Urchard Orcutt
Home Page |Surname List |Index of Individuals | |Sources
Urquharts Urchard Orcutt (b. 1566, d. date unknown)Urquharts Urchard Orcutt was born 1566 in Scotland, and died date unknown.
Notes for Urquharts Urchard Orcutt:
As legend has it, in the days when wild boar, wolves and bears still roamed the Scottish Highlands a mighty warrior named Conachar Mor ruled over a swathe of territory near Inverness, on the northwest side of Loch Ness. A scion of the Royal House of Ulster, Conachar became a hero in the folklore of the region for his strength and valour after he and his faithful, but aged hound An Cu Mor slew a ferocious wild boar that had long terrorised the Great Glen.
It is said that Conachar and his sword lie buried somewhere in what is today Glen Urquhart, and Conachar's feat is reflected in the boars' heads adopted as part of the heraldic achievement of the Chief of Clan Urquhart, who regards Conachar Mor as the founder of his clan.
Clan Urquhart took its name from Airchartdan or Urchard, as Conachar’s territory was named when St. Columba visited the area in the sixth century, bringing Christianity to a hitherto heathen land. Later a castle was built there, overlooking Loch Ness, Scotland's most famous loch. Urchard became Urquhart, and the area became known as Glen Urquhart. Today the remains of Urquhart Castle stand as an imposing monument to the past and a symbol of the ancient connection between Clan Urquhart and Glen Urquhart. The castle and glen serve as constant reminders to Urquharts throughout the world that their name had its origin here.
Kenneth Trist Urquhart, current Clan Chief, relates that "The first documented chief of the Urquhart Clan was one William de Urchard - a loyal supporter of Robert the Bruce during the Scottish War of Independence of 1296-1328. William is best known for his role in commanding troops against forces supporting the English King Edward I in the successful defence of the Mote-hill of Cromarty on the north shore of the Black Isle. The Mote-hill overlooked a strategic ferry landing at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth - a vital link in the land route running to the North - essential to royal control of the area. In 1358 William’s son Adam was made Baron and Sheriff of Cromarty and given the responsibility of defending and administering this important district. For the next three hundred years, the Urquhart clan chiefs held the Sheriffdom as hereditary property and the Barony of Cromarty was their principal seat."
The clan's loyalty to the Scottish monarchy was recognised when King James I knighted Adam's grandson William in 1416. Later, as Burke's Landed Gentry relates, King James III granted Sir Wm. Urquhart "the Mote and Mansion Mound of Cromarty, with licence to build a tower or fortalice thereon". Subsequently an imposing castle was built on the site by Thomas Urquhart, the 7th Chief. Unfortunately, the castle was demolished in 1772 and sadly today, only an artist's impression of this edifice remains.
Thomas Urquhart, builder of the castle, lives on in family legend for another reason. He reputedly fathered thirty-six children by one, clearly extraordinary, wife - she bore him twenty-five sons and eleven daughters. True to the family's loyalty to the Scottish royal family, seven of the couple's sons were killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547.
Memorials to Clan UrquhartSucceeding generations of Urquhart sons acquired other estates, becoming the lairds of Meldrum, Byth, Craigston, Craighouse, Kinbeachie, Newhall and Braelangwell. All of these estates have passed out of Urquhart hands except Craigston in Aberdeenshire, which is presently held by William Pratesi Urquhart, and a small portion of Craighouse containing the picturesque ruin of Castle Craig. Located on the north shore of the Black Isle overlooking the Cromarty Firth, Castle Craig is the last remaining symbol of Urquhart power in this area. It is the seat of the present chief of the clan who hopes to restore it and make it the centre of the clan’s activities.
Castle Craig was once owned by John Urquhart of Craigfintray, Tutor of Cromarty, who later built Craigston Castle in Aberdeenshire at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Tutor, so called because he was guardian of his great nephew Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, was widely recognized for his "deep reach of natural wit and great dexterity in acquiring many lands". The Tutor administered the 11th Chief’s estates in an excellent manner, but, after his time, his great nephew soon got himself hopelessly in debt because of poor estate management and his support of the royalist cause. His son Thomas, who succeeded him in 1642, was unable to recoup his father’s losses and incurred further indebtedness because of his support of Charles I and Charles II. This Sir Thomas, the 12th Chief (1611-1660), was a great character - an eccentric, Scottish genius who is world-renowned among scholars for his outstanding translation of Rabelais - described by one admirer as "a marvellous production".
Sir Thomas is remembered for his service to the monarchy. A royalist officer, he was captured at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. While in London, he wrote a book tracing his ancestry back to Adam and Eve, and authored works on mathematics, a universal language, and other erudite subjects. Before leaving Scotland in 1651 he commissioned a 5' 6" by 2' 8" carved decorative lintel for the great fireplace in Cromarty Castle. Called the Kinbeachie Stone, this celebrated sculpture depicts the arms of the Chief of Clan Urquhart and various emblems and inscriptions recalling the legendary history of the family. In the 1920s the stone was donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in Edinburgh. Some seventy years later it was transferred to the new Museum of Scotland where it is today displayed in the section devoted to "The Seventeenth Century Challenge". Sir Thomas died unmarried in 1660, reputedly of mirth on hearing that Charles II had been restored to the throne.
Descent of the chiefship
The family's financial setbacks ultimately led to the loss of Cromarty and many other important Urquhart lands in the Black Isle. Yet support for the royal Stuart cause continued unabated. The 16th Chief, Col. James Urquhart of Cromarty took an active part in the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and later served as principal Jacobite agent in Scotland for the exiled King James, father of Prince Charles Edward, Bonnie Prince Charlie.
At the death of Colonel James in 1741, the chiefship of the clan passed to his cousin, William Urquhart of Meldrum in Aberdeenshire. From then until 1898 Meldrum was the seat of the chief. Kenneth Urquhart explains that "This came to an end at the death of the 22nd Chief of Clan Urquhart, Major Beauchamp Colclough Urquhart of Meldrum, an officer of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. A bachelor, he was killed in action in 1898 at the Battle of Atbara during the Sudan Campaign. The chiefship then passed to his nearest male relative, his cousin, Rev. Edward William Urquhart who died in 1916; then it passed to Edward's cousin, David Urquhart of Braelangwell, head of a younger branch of the family.
"By the time David became chief, the house and most of the land of Braelangwell had been lost as the result of the extravagant lifestyle of his uncle, Charles Gordon Urquhart, an officer in the Scots Greys who was killed in1828 while serving as Governor of the Island of Karabusa during the Greek War of Independence. All that remained of the Braelangwell estate for David to inherit was the ancient little church and burial ground of Kirkmichael on the south shore of the Cromarty Firth."
Urquhart roots in America
By this time many Urquharts had migrated from Scotland to other parts of the world. Among those who had established themselves in North America was George Urquhart, ancestor of the present chief. Kenneth describes how, "in 1766, hoping to make his fortune in the New World, George Urquhart, a younger son of the Urquhart of Braelangwell line, set sail for what was then British West Florida, settling initially at the capital Pensacola and then moving to the Mississippi River in 1772. At various points in his career George served as a member of the Assembly of West Florida, a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Collector of Customs, and a Magistrate while becoming a successful indigo planter, merchant and businessman. When he died in 1779, his widow and two young sons moved to New Orleans, capital of Spanish Louisiana, the colony adjacent to British West Florida. Our line of Urquharts has remained there to this day.
"George's great-great grandson, Wilkins Fisk Urquhart, was my father. After establishing his identity as ‘Urquhart of Braelangwell’, he was recognised by the Lord Lyon as Chief of the Name and Head of Clan Urquhart in 1959 - assuming a role which had lain dormant since 1934 when the 25th Chief, Francis Fortescue Urquhart of Braelangwell - his cousin - died."
Kenneth Trist Urquhart, 27th Chief of Clan Urquhart
In 1974 Kenneth Trist Urquhart succeeded his father as 27th Chief of Clan Urquhart. Sharing a passion for history, father and son collaborated on a number of important historical and cultural projects. They were responsible for saving the Confederate Museum in New Orleans from closure and they also played crucial roles in the revival of the Louisiana Historical Association and its transformation into the leading historical association in the State of Louisiana.
Retired academics, the current Clan Chief and his wife, Mary Virginia, are now devoting much of their time to researching Clan Urquhart in preparation for writing a comprehensive history. Kenneth views the role of Clan Chief as very important. The living embodiment of the chiefs who went before him, he has the responsibility of leading and inspiring the clan. Much of his time is devoted to the preservation of the clan’s heritage, and to making Urquharts throughout the world aware of it.
An important date that will undoubtedly go down in clan history is that of May 1994 when members of the Clan Urquhart gathered in Scotland for the first international family reunion in modern times. "This event", says Kenneth, “fulfilled the long-standing desire of the Chief and the Clan Urquhart Association that an international gathering of Urquharts be held in Scotland.”
Although he did not live to participate in the 1994 gathering, a major force in bringing it about was Major-General Robert Elliott ("Roy") Urquhart, a distinguished hero of WWII whose bravery as Commander of the British First Airborne Division at Arnhem has gone down in history and who was immortalised by Sean Connery in the film A Bridge too Far. General Urquhart was appointed Commissioner of Clan Urquhart for Scotland by the chief in 1982 and he took the lead, assisted by Bruce Urquhart of Craigston, in organising the British branch of the Clan Urquhart Association which had been established as an international organisation in 1976 by the Chief of the Clan. The British branch, under the leadership of General Urquhart’s son, Adam, was responsible for organising the 1994 international gathering.
At the 1994 clan reunion, family members from various parts of the UK and overseas joined together to renew their commitment to the heritage of their clan and to celebrate their pride in being Urquharts. They visited places of historical significance to the clan, being welcomed at Craigston Castle and visiting the town of Cromarty and the eighteenth-century Cromarty House, built on the site of the clan's old castle.
In 1999 a second international gathering was held, when the programme of events included the dedication of the Clan Urquhart Room in the old, restored Cromarty Courthouse located in the town where for centuries Urquhart barons and sheriffs officiated over the local population, maintaining the peace and dispensing justice. They also made a pilgrimage to the clan’s birthplace, Glen Urquhart, and visited Urquhart Castle on the shoreline of Loch Ness - home to a legendary and elusive monster reputedly first spied by St. Columba on his mission to convert the Gaels to Christianity.
Today members of the clan are widely scattered throughout the world. The 27th Clan Chief explains: "We Urquharts have become a worldwide family, Scottish by origin and Scottish by conscious choice; a family of members who, despite their diversity, view themselves as one; and proudly call themselves 'Urquharts'. We look to Scotland as our home and we have a special attachment to Glen Urquhart, Cromarty, and the Urquhart estates in Aberdeenshire.
"It is our hope that Clan Urquhart will grow and prosper and that its Association and its projects to preserve and promote the heritage of the clan will be successful. One of Clan Urquhart's great challenges in the twenty-first century is the restoration of Castle Craig, our historic hereditary seat overlooking the Cromarty Firth. The restored castle would provide a permanent clan centre and a base in Scotland for all members of Clan Urquhart. In pursuit of this end, as in all things, let us live up to our ancient clan motto: 'Meane Weil, Speak Weil and Doe Weil', which is surely as meaningful today as it has ever been."
The next international gathering of Clan Urquhart is scheduled for July 30-August 1, 2004 when it is hoped that an archaeological dig will take place at Castle Craig as a preliminary to commencing restoration work.
The Association now numbers over 500 members with families hailing from the USA, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and, of course, Scotland and England - a membership expected to increase substantially over time as further Urquharts are identified and located. Branches of the Association operate in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand. Through the Clan Urquhart Foundation, members' subscriptions have already enabled substantial contributions to be made to the Craigston Castle Maintenance Trust, the Cromarty Courthouse, Cromarty's historic East Church, the Ship Hector Foundation, and the National Trust’s Culloden Battlefield.
Membership in the Clan Urquhart Association is open to all Urquharts, their descendants, members of families having variations on the name Urquhart, such as Orcutt, Erquitt, and people bearing the name Cromarty, a sept of Clan Urquhart.
Children of Urquharts Urchard Orcutt are:
- +William Orcutt, b. 1592, St. Mary's Parish, Warwickshire, England, d. Abt. 1693, Weymouth, Norfolk, Massachusetts.