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Clan Armstrong (vambraced arm)

Clan Armstrong
Clan Armstrong Clan Crest

Septs of Clan Armstrong (what is a sept?)
Crosier, Fairbairn, Fairburn, Grozier, Nixon.

Clan Badge: An arm from the shoulder, armed proper.
Motto: Invictus Maneo (I Remain Unvanquished)

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armstrong tartan
Clan Armstrong Tartan

Clan Armstrong History:
The Armstrong name has a mythological origin, in that it is said their heroic progenitor, Fairbairn, saved his king of Scotland in battle, and not from a wild beast as is the case with another Border clan - the Turnbulls. It is said that, dressed in full armour, he lifted the king onto his own horse with one arm after the King's horse had been killed under him in battle. The family crest records this act of heroism that was to be rewarded with a grant of lands in the Borders and the famous Armstrong name.

The first specific reference locating them in Liddesdale, which would become their family seat, is in 1376. Liddesdale was also the seat of their unquestioned power in the region that allowed them to expand into Annandale and Eskdale to accommodate their growing population. It is reputed that by 1528 they were able to put 3000 horsemen in the field.

The Armstrongs' relationship with subsequent Scottish kings was turbulent to say the least. The most notorious event in this uneasy relationship occurred in 1530. John Armstrong, known in history as 'Gilnockie', was persuaded to attend a meeting at Carlingrigg with King James V who, unknown to Gilnockie, had the malicious intent to silence the rebellious Borderers. The ruse succeeded as Gilnockie and fifty followers were captured.
The Royal order to hang them was issued and despite several pleas for the King to be lenient in exchange for obedience, it was carried out. Defiant to the last, Gilnockie said these words directly to King James V:

"I am but a fool to seek grace at a graceless face, but had I known you would have taken me this day, I would have lived in the Borders despite King Harry and you both." His defiance is commemorated and echoed in the soulful popular Border ballad, "Johnie Armstrong":

"Farewell! my bonny Gilnock Hall
Where on Esk side thou standest stout !
Gif I had lived but seven yeirs mair
I wad a gilt thee round about
John Murdered was at Carlinrigg
And all his gallant companie;
But Scotland's heart was ne'er sae wae
To see sae mony brave men die."

Armstrong tartan
In 1587 an act was passed by the Scottish parliament "for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the inhabitants of the Borders, Highland and Isles ..." That contained a roll of Chieftains and clans that confirms the status of Border families as an important part of clan history, and the Armstrongs as perhaps the most significant Border clan.

The clan's authority resided intact at Mangerton in Liddesdale, a succession of Armstrongs retaining the 'Laird of Mangerton' title, until 1610 when Archibald Armstrong was 'put to the horn' as a rebel. After this, the Armstrong lands passed into the hands of the Scotts.

The clan is currently represented by the Clan Armstrong Trust in the Scottish border region.

Current Clan Chief: No clan chief currently exists
Surname Meaning:

Clan Armstrong Arms
Arms: (of Mangerton) Argent, three pallets azure.
Crest: An arm from the shoulder, armed proper.
Motto: Invictus Maneo (I Remain Unvanquished)

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Clan Standard:

Origins of the Name:

gilnockie tower
Gilnockie Tower

Clan Seat, Lands and Castles:
Gilnockie Tower is the home of the Clan Armstrong and houses the Clan Armstrong centre.

Plant Badge:
Pipe Music:

Gaelic Name: MacGhillielaidir (Surname) Clann 'icGhillelaidir (Collective)

Tartan: This tartan is from the Lowlands and is mentioned in Vestiarium Scoticum (1842)

External Links:
Armstrong Clan Society

Clan Armstrong Trust

What is a Sept
In Scotland, a sept is often a family that is absorbed into a larger Scottish clan for mutual benefit. For example, the Burns family sept was absorbed into the Clan Campbell. The Burns family, being very small and of questionable heritage, gained legitimacy and protection; the Campbell clan absorbed a potential rival for British affection in Scotland. Each Scottish clan typically has a number of septs, each with its own surname. Septs have rights to wear clan tartans although they often have tartans of their own.

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