- Arms – Azure, a chevron Or between three crosses pattee Argent
- Badge - Within a strap, a chapeau Azure doubled Ermine, a hand holding a dagger Proper.
- Motto – Aut agere aut mori – “Either action or death.”
- Dress Tartan- Yellow and black with white overcheck.
- Hunting Tartan – Blue and green with red overcheck.
- Standard – Measuring 12 feet long, this standard was approved by the Lord Lyon’s Office and is for the Chief’s personal use. Azure, a St. Andrew’s Cross Argent in the hoist and of two tracts Azure and or, upon which is depicted the Crest three times along with the Motto ‘Aut agere aut mori’ in letters Gules upon two transverse bands Argent.
- Pinsel - Authorized by our Chief to be flown by his Commissioner for North America at activities in the United States and Canada when the Chief is unable to be in attendance. Or, displaying the Crest within a strap Azure, inscribed in letters Or with the Motto ‘Aut agere aut mori’ all within a circlet Or, fimbriated Azure, ensigned of a chapeau Azure furred Ermine, inscribed with the title ‘Barclay of that Ilk’ in letters Azure, and in the fly an Escrol Azure bearing in the letters Or this slogan ‘Towie Barclay’ surmounting a stem of mayflower Proper.
- Plant Badge – a stem of mayflower Proper.
- Lands – Kincardinshire, Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, and Ayrshire
- Origin of name – Place-name from Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England
This brief historical overview of the surname is the official history of the surname and is made available by Clan Barclay International. More information and details of family history can be obtained from: Barclay, Leslie. The History of the Scottish Barclays, reprinted with an index and glossary by Carolyn L. Barkley, FSA Scot ( Willow Bend Books, 1995) and Barclay, Hubert F., Charles W. Barclay and Alice W ilson-Fox. A History of the Barclay Family, 2 vol. (reprint, 1924-1933, Willow Bend Books, 2003).
Roger de Berchelai came to England with William the Conqueror and was granted Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. This early form of the name was believed to be the Anglo-Saxon version of ‘beau’ meaning beautiful, and ‘lee’, a meadow or field. Roger was mentioned in the Domesday Book as well as his son, John. In 1069 John de Berchelai accompanied Margaret (later St. Margaret) to Scotland. In gratitude for his service, King Malcolm (Canmore) granted him the lands of Towie, near Turriff, in Aberdeenshire, as well as the title, Barclay of that Ilk. 900 years of Barclay history in Scotland descend from John’s three sons, Walter, Alexander, and Richard.
In the early days of violence, there was a black day when a nunnery was plundered by the Towie Barclays. Following this event, Thomas the Rhymer wrote the following lines:
“Towie Barclay of the Glen, Happy to the maids, But never to the men.”
This curse was said to haunt the male-heir. It was a belief held so strongly that in 1755, it was given as a reason for the heir’s sale of Towie Barclay Castle, which then passed into the keeping of the Governors of Robert Gordon’s Hospital in Aberdeen. No Barclays have lived in the Castle since.
The Barclays formed important alliances and held land throughout the north-east of Scotland, principally Towie, Mathers, Gartley and Pierston in Aberdeenshire. They also settled in Banff, Collairnie in Fife, Brechin in Forfarshire and Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. One family line settled on the west coast in the Ardrossan and Kilbirnie areas in Ayrshire. Throughout Scotland, they played important roles in national affairs. Sir David Barclay was one of Robert the Bruce’s chief associates and was present at many of his battles. Sir Walter de Berkeley, Gartley III, Lord Redcastle and Inverkeillor, was Great Chamberlain of Scotland 1165-1189. Alexander de Berkeley, Gartley IX, became Mathers I in 1351 when he married Katherine Keith, sister of the Earl Marischal. Their son Alexander was the first to adopt the Barclay form of the surname. Sir George Barclay, Gartley XIX, was Steward of the household of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a later Sir George was second in command of James IV forces in the Highlands in the 1689.
One of the major Barclay families was established at Urie near Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. The first Laird, Colonel David Barclay, was a professional soldier serving with such armies as that of Gustavus Adolphus. He returned home when civil war broke out and serviced as a colonel of a regiment of horse fighting for the king. Following his retirement and the conclusion of the war, he was confined in Edinburgh Castle where he was converted to the Society of Friends (Quakers). His son Robert, Urie II, was widely known for his Apologia, described on the title page as being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers. It was published in 1659 when Robert was twenty-seven, becoming widely influential, was then translated into all the European languages. He was friends with the leading Quakers of his day, George Fox and William Penn. Together, they were responsible for the idea of a city of brotherly love to be built in America. Instrumental in settling the east coast of the American colonies, Robert was appointed life governor by the proprietors of East New Jersey who granted him 5,000 acres of land. Robert’s second son, David, left Urie and went to London and was apprenticed to a City Company where he became a merchant and a rich man. His second wife was the daughter of John Fream, goldsmith, whose premises in Lombard Street became a banking center as the site of the Barclay’s Bank. Wealth, however, did not corrupt the family’s strict Quaker principles. David acquired an estate in Jamaica, freeing the slaves there and teaching them trades many years before the passing of laws against the institution of slavery. He entertained George III at his house in London for one of the Lord Mayor’s processions, and he and his family were excused from kneeling to the King due to their Quaker beliefs. He refused a knighthood and preferment for his son at Court saying that ‘He preferred to bring up his sons in honest trades’.
The last Laird of Urie, Captain Robert Barclay-Allardyce (Allardyce added when he married an heiress of that name whose lands were added to those of Urie), was known as the Great Pedestrian. Many tales exists of his walks over the Scottish hills, such as his walk from Urie to Crathynaird (28 miles), staying less than an hour and then walking home again the same day. His most famous record, however, was that of walking 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours. This he accomplished over a measured mile on Newmarket Heath, subject of about 100,00 wagers and before large crowds. This feat was accomplished in 1809 and five days later, he embarked with his regiment for the Walcheren Expedition in the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1621, Sir Patrick Barclay (Towie XVII) issued a letter of safe conduct for John and Peter Barclay, merchants in the town of Banff to settle in Riga on the shores of the Baltic where they became silk merchants and burghers. He was created a Prince by the Czar and his portrait hangs in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. From them was founded the Russian line. Michael Andreas Barclay, born 1761, and descended from Peter, the original immigrant, entered the Russian Army with his two brothers. By 1806, Michael was in command of one of the Russian divisions sent to support Prussia against the French. He gained distinction at the battles of Wagram and Eylau. At the later, he had his horse shot out from under him and was severely wounded. He was made Minister of War in 1810 and two years later was given command of the Russian Armies against Napoleon. He invented the policy of ‘scorched earth’, retreating and hiburning until starvation and cold forced Napoleon into the terrible retreat from Moscow. In 1815, Michael was elevated by the Czar to Field Marshal Prince Michael Barclay de Tolly and was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. From England, George III bestowed upon him a G.C.B. The Prince came to London to receive this honor and met Colonel Sir Robert Barclay (Towie XXV) to whom he declared himself to be ‘perfectly acquainted with his descent from the Barclays of Towie in Scotland’.
Portrait of Barclay de Tolly:
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