Chapter 4: Clan McCutcheon:

Several changes have been made and many errors have been corrected Chapter four.  I have also added several sources at the end of the Chapter. Following is a partial entry to the upgraded Chapter.


The Gaelic word “Clanna” is a term that means progeny. I have called our pioneers Clan McCutcheon; however, they were not ever a legal ‘clan’ in the sense of the Scottish definition of one nor were they ever armigerous. A Scottish Clan is a community distinguished by heraldry and recognized by a sovereign. These recognized Clans have a Chief. There is no such thing as a Family Coat of Arms. A person who has arms is called an armiger and his family is considered armigerous. 3 The McCutcheons never had a Coat of Arms and they were therefore never armigerous.

I have found suggestions of a McCutcheon Coat of Arms and a tartan. In 1928, when speaking about broken Clans, CC MacClaughry wrote two letters to Florence McCutcheon, which she published on page five of her book, entitled “The McCutcheon (Cutcheon) Family Records” published in 1931.

CC MacClaughry says: … “In 1896, Mr. Frank Adams, who published his work on the Clans entitled “What is My Tartan” attributes the name of McCutcheon to the McLeods of Assynt. McLeod of Assynt is one of the principal Septs of McLeods of Lewis [whose leader was Torquil McLeod].

He proceeded to say “this distinctive family name [McCutcheon] originated on mainland Scotland around Assynt. Their plaid, also their coat of arms, is the same as that of the McLeods….” However, I have never found any historical evidence of this and most historians’ dispute this finding. The McCutcheons are a Sept of Clan Donald.

So I am calling our pioneers a Clan within the boundaries of a ‘kinship group’. After they landed on Canadian soil they forged social relationships bound more by economics, politics and religion. And they did not mix well with different kinship groups for at least the first two generations. 2

Their behaviour in Canada was ‘clannish’ yet not discriminatory. They became a fairly large group of people who were bound together by blood and marriage.

Several people from the same family, their spouses and children undertook an arduous journey for Canada that was to take almost 5 weeks over an ocean that was un-forgiving. They must have heard the stories of ships lost at sea, consigning their human cargo to the bottom of the ocean. Over a period of 50 years, hundreds of ships were either lost at sea, never to be heard of again, or run aground, bashing against the rocks; hitting icebergs; burning; some on their owns shores, some just as they reached their destiny. Thousands of Ulster immigrants never made it to the Golden Door. Ships with names like Albion, Astrea, Hibernia, Newry, Dispatch never docked at their intended destination.

Whole families from Ulster disappeared beneath the waves leaving entire communities in Ulster to mourn. Yes they heard the stories; possibly mourned lost friends or relatives. But they made the ultimate decision that the risk was worth the reward.

They set off on the journey of a lifetime. We are glad they did.

We left the Quay on the nineteenth of May; set sail upon a fair sea;

Sailed out of the firth; filled with great mirth; we McCutcheons from Donaghadee.

But Alas! Our joy was soon dashed; for a mighty gale arose with such glee,

Turn back, we could not, we prayed to God, we put our faith in thee.


We were not told, of the mighty cold, as we crossed the angry, foaming sea;

Nor did we know, how long the gale would blow, leaving us all weak at the knee;

Lack of good food, left us in a mood, not agreeable to be;

Survive it we did, not to be outbid; we McCutcheons from Donaghadee.

Samuel McCutcheon Headstone

Picture of Samuel McCutcheon and Elizabeth’s headstone was taken at the Grey Abbey Church Graveyard, County Down, Ireland in the summer of 2014 by their 6th Great Grand-daughter, Debbie Powell. Debbie is the Great Great Grand-daughter of Isabella McCutcheon who was the daughter of Samuel Donald McCutcheon (1849-1929). Samuel Donald’s story begins as B: Chapter 11.


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