Clan Cumming or Comyn is a Scottish chiefly family.
This is a territorial name found in Ayrshire. It is likely that it derives from 'cuinneag', meaning 'milk pail' and the Saxon 'ham', meaning 'village'. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 376</ref> Another source states that it comes from the town of Comines in Normandy. <ref>David Doward, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 60</ref>
Robert de Comyn came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and was given lands in Northumberland. His grandson, William, came to Scotland in the reign of David I, who bestowed lands upon him in Roxburghshire. He eventually rose to become Chancellor of Scotland. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 376</ref>
His son was William Comyn, who married Marjory, Countess of Buchan. (William's mother was Hextilda, the granddaughter of King Donald III). Their seat of power became Ruthven Castle, which commanded the northern end of two passes over the Mounth, the Drumochter and Minigaig passes.
This lordship then passed to his nephew, the first John Comyn. This John was the first to be known as "the Red" Comyn. He was a descendant of William Comyn, Earl of Buchan, by his first wife, Sarah Fiz Hugh.
In the early thirteenth century as a result of good marriages they held three earldoms: Monteith, Menteith, and Atholl and Buchan. When Alexander III was killed near Burntisland, two Comyns, both direct descendants of Duncan I, were appointed to the council of six guardians of Scotland. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 376</ref>They were Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan, and 'Black John' Comyn, Lord of Badenoch.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 376</ref>
Wars of Independence
After the death in 1290 of the child queen Margaret, the 'Maid of Norway', and granddaughter of Alexander III, at least six claimants to the throne (including John Balliol, brother-in-law of the Black Comyn, Robert Bruce, grandfather of the future king, and the two Comyn guardians) invited Edward I of England to decide who should succeed to the Scottish throne.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 376</ref> The Black Comyn died at Lochindorb Castle in about 1303, a castle the Comyns built in the thirteenth century. <ref>Young, Alan. Robert the Bruce's Rivals: The Comyns, 1212–1314. 1997. (East Linton, Scotland: Tuckwell Press, 1998) 151.</ref>
He agreed, providing the chosen successor recognised him as overlord of Scotland, a demand which the Scots were not in a position to resist at that time. Edward's choice was John Balliol, but resistance broke out again, with the claimants taking sides and switching allegiances in the struggles to win the throne and to break free of England.
The Comyns controlled key castles and therefore were the main lines of communication, especially in northern Scotland where their power stretched from Inverlochy Castle in the west to Slains Castle in the east. <ref>Alan Young & Michael J Stead. "In the Footsteps of Wiliam Wallace, In Scotland and Northern England". Pages 44 - 4</ref>
Between these two points they had their power strategically situated in the following castles: Ruthven Castle, Lochindorb Castle, Blair Castle, Balvenie Castle, Dundarg Castle, Cairnbulg Castle, Castle of Rattray and Kingedward.<ref>Alan Young & Michael J Stead. "In the Footsteps of Wiliam Wallace, In Scotland and Northern England". Pages 44 - 4</ref>
In particular Clan Comyn castles controlled important passes from the north and west highlands into the Tay basin.<ref>Alan Young & Michael J Stead. "In the Footsteps of Wiliam Wallace, In Scotland and Northern England". Pages 44 - 4</ref> A third main branch of the Clan Comyn, the Comyns of Kilbride, held power in southern and central Scotland. They held castles at Kirkintilloch (Dumbartonshire), Dalswinton (Nithsdale), Cruggleton Castle (Galloway), Bedrule, Scraesburgh (Roxburghshire) and Kilbride (East Kilbride). <ref>Alan Young & Michael J Stead. "In the Footsteps of Wiliam Wallace, In Scotland and Northern England". Pages 44 - 4</ref>In addition to their private holdings the Clan Comyn also held a number of royal castles through their role as hereditary sheriffs at Dingwall Castle, Banff Castle (in the north) and Wigtown in the south west. In the early 1290s the Clan Comyn also took additional responsibility for the royal castles such as Aberdeen Castle and Jedburgh Castle as well as castles at Kirkcudbright, Clunie, Dull and Brideburgh.<ref>Alan Young & Michael J Stead. "In the Footsteps of Wiliam Wallace, In Scotland and Northern England". Pages 44 - 4</ref>
John Comyn became the most powerful political and military leader in Scotland from 1302 to 1304. He led the Scottish army against the English in the Battle of Roslin, 23 February 1303. John's greatly outnumbered army faced and beat the well-trained English army. However, many of the Red Comyn's allies made peace with King Edward, and so John submitted to King Edward at Strathhord on 9 February 1304. <ref>Young, Alan. Robert the Bruce's Rivals: The Comyns, 1212–1314. 1997. (East Linton, Scotland: Tuckwell Press, 1998) 186</ref>
In 1306, Robert the Bruce, grandson of the original claimant, invited Red Comyn to a meeting in the church of the Greyfriars in Dumfries in the hope of negotiating a compromise. They quarrelled, daggers were drawn and Comyn was stabbed to death in the church, an act for which Bruce was excommunicated. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 377</ref>
Comyn's son was defeated in a skirmish with Bruce and fled to join the English. He was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The fall of the Badenoch Comyns removed the family from the centre of Scottish politics, but many branches had been established which continued to thrive.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 377</ref> The spelling of the name Comyn generally became Cumming and the Cummings of Altyre were recognized as the clan chiefs. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 377</ref>
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, Clan Comyn now known as Clan Cumming had been reduced to simply another Highland clan, although the clan continued to play a significant part in the history and culture of the Badenoch, Strathspey, and Aberdeenshire regions of Scotland. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Cummings carried on significant, and bloody, feuds with Clan Macpherson, Clan Shaw, and Clan Brodie over lands in Nairnshire. In 1550 Alexander Brodie, chief of Clan Brodie and 100 others were denounced as rebels for attacking the Cummings of Altyre. <ref> Bain, George, F.S.A., Scotland (1893). History of Nairnshire. Nairn, Scotland: Nairn Telegraph Office. Page 230</ref>
In 1424 the Comyns forcibly took possession of some of the Clan Mackintosh lands at Meikle Geddes and Rait but Malcolm Mackintosh retaliated and put many of the Comyns to the sword. This was in turn retaliated by the Comyns who invaded the Mackintosh homeland of Moy and unsuccessfully tried to drown the Mackintoshes on their island of Moy. A feast of reconciliation was held at the Comyn's castle of Rait however here the Mackintoshes slaughtered their Comyn hosts.
Sir Alexander Cumming of Altyre was created a baronet on 21 May 1804. he took the name 'Gordon Cumming' on gaining the estates of Gordon of Gordonstown. <ref>Thomas Innes of Learney, the Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland, 105</ref> Sir William Gordon-Cumming of Altyre, fourth Baronet, served with the Scots Guards in the Zulu War of 1879 and later in the Guards' Camel Regiment. He is perhaps best remembered for his part in the Royal Baccarat Scandal, in which the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, became the first member of the royal family to give evidence in a civil court in an action for slander rising out of an accusation of cheating at a game of cards. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 377</ref>The double-surname barred this family from formally becoming chiefs. <ref>Learney, Tartans, 105</ref>
In 1997 Sir William, sixth Baronet, was recognised by the Lord Lyon as chief having abandoned the name 'Gordon'. He has since been succeeded by his son Alastair.