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Clan Barclay is a lowland Scottish chiefly family


The Barclays were a family which came over from the Continent at the time of the Norman Conquest. The first spelling of the name was de Berchelai, believed to be the Anglo Saxon version of 'beau' meaning beautiful and 'lee' a meadow or field. They settled in Gloucestershire. Some members of the family went north to Scotland where they settled in the North East at Towie, Mathers, Gartley and Pierston in Aberdeenshire, as well as Collairnie in Fife. <ref>George Way of Plein and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, Harper Collins, 1994, pp 72-73 </ref>

An old family tradition is that the Scottish family is descended from John de Berkeley, who was the son of Roger de Berkeley, provost of Berkeley, and went to Scotland in 1069 with St Margaret. Another theory is that the clan is descended from a John de Berkeley who went north in 1124 with Maud, queen of David I. <ref></ref>

Early History

The Barclays soon established themselves in strong positions in land offices and alliances, and took part in the Wars of Scottish Independence. In 1165 Sir Walter de Berkeley was Chamberlain of Scotland. <ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref> Sir David Barclay was a close associate of king Robert the Bruce and was present at most of his battles, most notably the Battle of Methven where he was captured.<ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref>

Seventeenth Century

In the seventeenth century one branch of the Clan Barclay established themselves at Urie, near Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. <ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref>Colonel David Barclay, the first Laird of Urie was a professional soldier who fought for Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.<ref></ref> David Barclay attained the rank of major and returned to Scotland when the civil war broke out. During the civil war in Scotland he commanded a regiment of horse fighting for the king. <ref></ref> He retired in 1647 but after the Restoration (1660) he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle on a charge of hostility to the government but was later released. <ref></ref> While in prison he was converted into a Quaker by the Laird of Swinton who was also a prisoner.His son, Robert Barclay, was also a Quaker and published An Apology for the true Christian Divinity as the same is held forth and preached by the people called in scorn Quakers in 1675. <ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref> Robert Barclay's second son, David Barclay, founded Barclays Bank. <ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref>

Napoleonic Wars

Five generations after Peter Barclay was descended the Russian Field Marshal Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly who was born in 1761. <ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref> He was made Minister of War in 1810 and two years later was given command of the Russian armies who were fighting against Napoleon. The appointment of a Scottish commander-in-chief was resented by the nobles of Russia, however his capabilities were respected.<ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref> He was created a prince by the Tsar and his memory is still honored in Russia where his portrait hangs in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. He died in 1818. <ref>Way of Plein, Squire, Encyclopedia, pp 72,73</ref>


The family sold their seat, Towie Barclay Castle, in 1755. <ref></ref>