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Origins of Forbes

Forbes is an ancient Scottish family or Clan in the district of Mar in Aberdeenshire, in the northeast of Scotland. The name is reputedly derived from O’Conchar Forbhasach II, who killed a great bear near where Castle Forbes stands today. See more here. 


Royal Bloodline of the House of Forbes

If you can trace your genealogy back to James, 2nd Lord Forbes, then you can claim a heritage of royal blood stretching back through time through the Kings of Scotland to the Kings of the Picts. Learn more here.


Major Branches of the House of Forbes

Clan Historian Alexander Forbes of Druminnor Castle (the original Castle Forbes) highlights the seven major branches of the House of Forbes and notable cadet (sub-families) during the Clan Forbes gathering in March 2021. He notes the specific history and characteristics of the lines of the Lords Forbes, Corsindae and Monymusk, Corse and Craigievar, Pitsligo and Newe, Tolquhon and Culloden, and Brux and Towie.  Learn more here.

The Rise of Forbes from “Reid Harlaw”

The 1411 Battle of Harlaw, one of the bloodiest war in Scotland, was the making of the House of Forbes. Alexander Forbes, son of Sir John of the Black Lip, so distinguished himself that his commander the Earl of Mar, rewarded him with vast estates; he was awarded the title of the first Lord Forbes; and he was able to marry Elizabeth, granddaughter of Robert III. Alexander’s bravery was celebrated in the popular ballad, “Battle of Harlaw.” Learn more here.


Coats of Arms of the House of Forbes

The Lord Lyon grants coats of arms as "heraldic achievement" to a single person and this my be inherited by the eldest son. Use of the specific coat of arms by any other person is illegal in Scotland – as one well-known American company discovered. Members of the House of Forbes have many Coats of Arms registered by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. See more here.


Clan Forbes Tartan

While the notion of “clan tartans” has been a relatively recent notion, our Celtic ancestors have been weaving a distinctive tartan cloth for millennia. The Scottish Register of Tartans lists 12 Forbes tartans. See all tartans here.


House of Forbes

This family history and genealogical data about the Forbes family of Scotland from about 1305 A.D. to the present utilizes research accumulations of past genealogists as well as critical analysis. The 1937 edition published by the Third Spaulding Club was researched and edited by Alistair and Henrietta Tayler. Pedigree charts of 30 of the Forbes families of Scotland are included, and 16 of these are discussed in the text. See more here.


Castles and Mansion Houses

Druminnor Castle was the original Castle Forbes and was the seat of the Chiefs of Clan Forbes for over 500 years until it was sold by the 16th Lord Forbes in 1770. Putachie House was later expanded and is now called Castle Forbes. Craigievar Castle is is now one of the most popular properties owned by the National Trust for Scotland. See more here.


Notable People

Warriors, politicians, artists, financiers, naturalists, clergy -- member of the House of Forbes have impacted their worlds in many ways over the centuries. Here are just a few examples.


Clan Feud: Forbes vs. Gordon

The bloody feud between Forbes and Gordon was one of Scotland’s most public and enduring. The rivalry began in the 12th and 13th centuries with competing loyalties, was exacerbared by grabs for land and power in the 14th and 15th centuries, flared with murders and battles on both sides through the 16th century, and was barely mitigated by intermarriage and Acts of Parliament. Learn more here. 


Forbes in the Military

The House of Forbes has been recognized for its military prowess and leadership skills since the 13th century. This tradition continues into the 20th and 21st century as we salute the Forbes in the Military. Here are just a few examples.


Earls of Granard: House of Forbes in Ireland

Castleforbes in Longford County, Ireland, is the ancestral home of the Earls of Granard. This noble branch of the Scottish House of Forbes was founded by Sir Arthur Forbes (1569 – 1632), son of William Forbes of Corse, first Baronet of Craigievar and a direct descendant of James Forbes, 2nd Lord Forbes. Learn more here.


Forbes, Whisky, and Robert Burns

The House of Forbes has been inextricably bound up with whisky and has achieved fame in that regard with the help of no less than the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns! This all started as the result of Forbes of Culloden’s becoming a target for the Jacobites. Learn more here

Reference Library

Active Members (paid) have access to the Clan Forbes Reference Library of historical books. These include information about the House of Forbes and the history of Scotland. Here are just a few examples.

Scottish Anniversary Dates: Notable events in Scottish history arranged by month and day.

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