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Clans consisted generally of "native men" and "broken men." The "native men" were those related to the Chief and to each other by blood ties. This blood relationship is an important fundamental in the clan system and was a strong element in the patriarchal system of government, all being bound together in a common interest. The clan also contained septs or branches composed of clansmen who had become powerful or prominent in some way, and founded families almost as important as that of the Chief. The "broken men" were individuals or groups from other clans who had sought and obtained the protection of the clan. The "HUNTERS" are one of those "families". There are only two "families" in Scotland, but, like a clan, we are banded together to preserve and to maintain the castle at Hunterston for future generations. Our existence at Hunterston has never been more seriously under threat than at present. Industrial development threatens the remains of our clan lands that have been carefully preserved over so many years. It is hoped that you will help its preserve the heritage that we have earned.

The earliest record that we have of our family in Scotland is of William Hunter (1st Laird) who is named as a witness at the Inquisition of King David I in 1116. As the Prince of Cumbria, David married Maud, a grand-niece of William the Conqueror. The Prince acceded to the throne as David I of Scotland. This was followed by a fresh influx of Anglo-Normans into Scotland, invited by David who had himself been brought up at the Norman Court.

There is a legend that has been passed down through the generations that the wife of William, the first Laird, was a lady in waiting to Queen Matilda, Wife of William the Conqueror. They came over to Britain about 4 years after the Norman Conquest, and therefore, would not have been mentioned in the list of companions of the Conqueror. Our original ancestor was a huntsman under the command of 'Le Gros Veneur,' the Chief Huntsman to the Duke of Normandy. It appears that this early ancestor excelled at this job of providing the Royal Court with meat and game, for King David appointed him as his Chief Hunter in Scotland.

Hunter the Norman, the 2nd Laird of Hunterston, is mentioned in a Charter of King Alexander III of Scotland in 1271. The reference was to land that had been granted to the Hunter by the King's predecessor, Malcolm IV who reigned from 1153 - 1165:

"....Excepta Terra Quondam Norman Venatoris, Quod Rex Malcolmus: Frater Regis Wim' mi Avi Nostri:"
These early settlers after the Norman Conquest would not have had surnames as we have today. The designation "Venator" (Latin for Hunter) was an indication of his occupation, conferred on the Laird by the King on his appointment to take charge of the Royal Forests in the principality. That is indicated by a gold (or yellow) ground in the Chief s coat of arms and a yellow stripe in the clan tartan. Several tales have been passed down the generations about how he received his hereditary title of Chief Hunter.
One such story is that the first Hunter of Hunterston was out hunting and chanced upon a meeting with a stranger, who by himself, appeared lost and hungry. The. Hunter took him in and so impressed this stranger with his talents to find game that before parting, the stranger vowed to return one day. Some time later, a large party of warriors, all in battle dress, arrived in the area. The Hunter was apprehensively studying the arrival from the cover of some trees, when he noticed this man again, the stranger he had befriended. Going up to the man to greet him, he was immediately surrounded by a ferocious group of riders, menacing him with weapons.

The stranger then came forward and announced that the hunter was an acquaintance. The warriors withdrew and the men greeted each other and exchanged news. When the group of warriors started to leave the Hunter turned to one of the party and asked the name of the stranger: "The King of Scotland" came the reply.

This Royal connection has remained throughout the entire history of the family. A royal Charter dated 31 May 1527. from King James V to Robert Huntar of Hunterstoune (15th Laird) granting him the deer forest of the Little Cumbrae, an island in the Firth of Clyde near Hunterston, states:

.....which islands and lands with pertinents the said Robert and his predecessors have formerly held of us and our predecessors in hereditary custody.....
The family have lived and farmed at Hunterston for over 800 years. The castle has always been occupied, and this has helped to ensure that the building has remained in good structural condition. The main tower house is now a museum for the Clan Society, and the surrounding outbuildings provide facilities for visitors to the Clan Centre.

There is an ancient yew tree that grows in the walled garden at Hunterston Castle. It is over 600 years old and the early Hunters made longbows from the wood.

Ongoing work is being researched on the main family for two purposes:

1. To upgrade and improve the family tree as presently sent to members.

2. To assist discovery of more information about all the children of ALL the Laird's of Hunterston.

*Information on the Clan Hunter is courtesy of the Clan Hunter Association. Special thanks to Tom Hunter for providing an image and explanation of the Hunter of Hunterston tartan.


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