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Cleland / Clelland

Cleland was accepted as an allied family by CDSNA in September 2015. 

The Lord Lyon recognizes Cleland as an armigerous family without a clan chief.  According to one Cleland website,

The first chief of the Clan was Alexander Cleland, (also referred to as Alexander Kneland of Cleland), of Dalzeil in Lanarkshire. He married Margaret, daughter of Adam Wallace of Riccarton who was also the father of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish hero and patriot. Alexander was also a follower of Wallace and is mentioned several times by Henry the Minstrel, “Blind Harry”, in this regard.


Another Cleland website states the last known Cleland Chief was William Cleland who died in 1741. William was known to have heirs but several branches of the Cleland family have searched for an heir able to present to the Lord Lyon without success.

There is evidence that Cleland may be associated with the family Forrester, a surname listed as one of our Douglas Septs and Allied Families. Several accounts of Cleland individuals place the family in the same areas and lands as Forrester of Corstorphine.

In the 1905 compilation by John Burton Cleland titled The Ancient Family of Cleland: Being An Account of the Clelands of that Ilk, in the County of Lanark; of the Branches of Faskine, Monkland, etc.; and of others of the name. [p. 7], the connection of the surname Cleland to the House of Douglas is unmistakable.

A DESCRIPTION of the Ancient Family of Cleland in the County of Lanark: — The Hare is carried in arms by an old family with us of the name of Cleland of that Ilk in the County of Lanark; 'tis said they were hereditary Foresters to the old Earls of Douglas, which gave rise to their Arms." (Nisbet's Heraldry. 1722.) The principal Arms of the Family are: — "Azure; A Hare saliant argent, with a Hunting-Horn, Vert, hanging about its neck, garnished, gules: Crest, A Falcon standing upon a left hand Glove, proper. Motto, Non Sibi ; at other times, For Sport, supported by Two Grey-Hounds, as in the Lion's Register, and Plate of Achievments." (Nisbet.)

"The family of Cleland is of great antiquity in Scotland.  Their Coat-of-Arms, tradition states, was acquired by their being hereditary foresters to the ancient Earls of Douglas." (Document.)

"The old name of the family was Kneland, or Kneiland, now softened into Cleland. There has been a diversity of opinion about the origin of the name of the estate, and to avoid theorizing, I will give the old name — Clelandtoun — which signifies Cleland's dwelling or residence. From this rendering it would appear that the family name was given to the estate, a custom prevalent at an early date. The Clelands were an ancient family of distinction as early as the reign of Alexander III., and their history, like that of other old families, is involved in obscurity and error ; . . . . both the family and estate have been so long split and divided, that it would require long and diligent research to give a complete history of these divisions." (Grossart's "History of the Parish of Shotts." 1880.)

The name is supposed to be derived from the German "knecht " (the same word as our "knight"), a servant. Knechtland would be one who for his land served the king in peace or war, one serving for land: or perhaps it means servant of the land, the land-servant, the family who were hereditary land-servants or foresters of the Earls of Douglas.


Cleland, John Burton. "Ancient Family of Cleland; Being an Account of the Clelands of That Ilk, in the County of Lanark; of the Branches of Faskine, Monkland, Etc.; and of Others of the Name: Cleland, John Burton : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive."Internet Archive. Hicks, Wilkinson & Sears, 1905. Web. 15 February 2015. <https://archive.org/details/ancientfamilyofc00clel>.


"Cleland Tartan."Clan Cleland RSS. 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <http://www.clan-cleland.org/clan/tartan/>.


Mr. Howard Scott Cleland .  Personal email correspondence, January 21, 2015


"History of the Name Cleland." History of the Name Cleland. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <http://clelands.ca/History_Of_The_Name_Cleland/>.