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Clan History

Scottish American Society

Interesting story from Clan Morehead

Muirhead Clan Societies
Historical Stone Saved
For Kith and Kin All.

From Raymond Morehead: a wee part of sandstone building stone from the ruins of Lauchope House the one time Seat of the Muirheads. he collected it in Scotland to archive for the Society. and sent each of our Regional Commissioners one wee piece to display at their tents and festivals for it may be the last we all see.
Credit also to: Maxine Ross and John P. Jameson of Scotland, UK

Bob Morehead

May 29

The last recognized chief of my Scottish clan died more than a century ago. For around a century, our ancestral home has been in ruins. Recently, our chief-elect, Raymond Morehead, went and toured the grounds. He took one of the sandstone building stones and broke it into several pieces, sending each fragment in a handmade shadowbox to one of the clan conveners, myself included. It arrived in today's mail. I have to confess, holding this in my hands was a very emotional experience. Thank you, Chief. It will repose in a place of honor in our tent.


North Lanarkshire

Ruin or site, OS64 NS781617

3.5 miles north east of Motherwell, off minor roads, north of A8 and south of B799, south of Chapelhall and south east of Lauchope Mains.

Site of a strong tower house of the Muirheads which was later incorporated into a mansion, now demolished. Lauchope appears on Ponts manuscript map of c1596 as a particularly large and important tower house of two blocks within a courtyard and an enclosed park. The tower is said to have had very thick walls.

The name Chappel is dominant on Bleaus Atlas Novus of 1654, but the name Lauchob also appears. The chapel in question was ancient and dedicated to St Larsach. It was ruined by the 18th century but had become the burial place of the family. Although in modern times this area is included within Monklands, it was part of the vast parish and barony of Bothwell, though became part of Bertram Shotts when the parish was divided just after the Reformation.

In the reign of David II, Thomas de Moravia granted a charter of Over and Nether Lauchope to William Balyston. By the end of the 14th century the Muirheads were in possession. In 1393 a William Muirhead was knighted by Robert III and as Sir William Muirhead of Lauchope appeared as a charter witness in 1401.

This first Muirhead of Lauchope was renowned as a hero nation-wide, if the legend of the notorious robber baron Bertram of Shotts is to be believed. Bertram was a giant amongst men, deemed capable of fighting a dozen men at once, and winning! The crown was so concerned by his piratical antics that they offered a substantial reward for his removal. Muirhead was their man. Dumping a cartload of heather close by a well that the giant was known to use, Muirhead lay in wait for his victim. Sure enough Bertram came to drink, and after examining the curious pile, he bent over to sup from the well. Muirhead emerged from below the heather and struck the giant a fatal blow to the head with his sword. The story continues that Robert II was so grateful that Muirhead was granted the Lauchope lands as a result. This same hero supposedly died at Flodden, 140 years later. The existence of a Bertram of Shotts has never been shown in fact, though the legend warranted a mention in Sir Walter Scotts epic The Ballad of the Battle of Flodden Field. Other versions of the story place events in the reign of James IV.

There is another legend that John Muirhead, a younger son of Muirhead of Lauchope, became known as Stark after saving James III from an attack by a wild bull. He is said to have been granted lands and become the progenitor of the Starks of Auchinvole. James Muirhead of Lauchope is said to have also died with over 200 more Muirheads at The Battle of Flodden in 1513 whilst serving in the bodyguard of James IV.

The tower gave refuge to Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh in 1570, after his assassination of the Regent Moray in Linlithgow. Lauchope was burned by English dragoons in response and the family papers destroyed. James Muirhead of Lauchope was Hamiltons brother-in-law and was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle in the aftermath. In 1679 another James Muirhead and his brother John fought at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge for the Covenanters. Captured and tried, they refused to pledge allegiance to Charles II and were banished to the English colonies in America in 1685.

There is mention of a long running feud between the Muirheads of Lauchope and the Clelands of that Ilk. The Muirheads died out in 1738 and the estate passed to a cadet branch, the Muirheads of Bredisholm. The property came into the possession of a branch of the Robertons of Earnock before 1816 and they are credited with rebuilding the mansion in 1839. This family were still in possession when the house was demolished in 1956.