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Forbes Clan began in Strathdon, Aberdeen-shire, Scotland

This British Scottish originally Irish family traces its roots back over 900 years and has a unique history

By Keith A. Forbes. A disabled author and journalist, he lives with his wife in the harbour and writes and webmasters this website as an activist for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable.

Forbes Clan tartan and badge

Forbes Coat of Arms  Aberdeenshire rural heartlandForbes Highlander Chief


Forbes ClanThe Forbes Clan is a member clan of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. Members of the Forbes clan are descended from Sir John de Forbes, 1373, of Scotland. All the Forbes families in Scotland or once there and now worldwide can trace their descent to him. It is believed that the original Forbes came from Ireland in the 12th century or so as mercenary  Irish fighting men recruited by the-then King of Scotland across the water to help defeat the Picts. Sir John de Forbes was their leader. The king was so grateful for their presence and valor that he granted them a huge parcel of land in perpetuity in his Kingdom. Many stayed, made Scotland their home, became Scots but kept the Irish link in the green of their kilt. There is still an original Irish branch of the Forbes family, at Newton Forbes, County Longford, whose Clan Chief in the Earl of Granard. He acknowledges the present-day Lord Forbes of Scotland as his senior colleague. 

Strathdon, in Aberdeen-shire, was and still is the premier Scottish ancestral home of the Scottish Forbes, many of whom are now spread throughout Scotland and the rest of the world.  It originates in the lands of Donside once in the southern part of the original Pictish kingdom. It gets its name from the Gaelic Forba, meaning field. Early Forbeses were known as the Forbais, from the Pictish place-name suffix. The boars' heads on the Forbes arms to the right commemorate the exploit of a distant ancestor. He is said to have rid his part of Aberdeen-shire of a wild boar terrorizing the area. A Charter was given to the family by King Alexander III who died in 1286. Duncan of Forbes, or de Forbes, was an early distinguished figure. His descendants were raised to the peerage in 1445 when Sir Alexander Forbes married a granddaughter of King Robert III.  After that it became a distinguished Scottish clan. 

Later distinguished Forbeses include one of Scotland's greatest judges and patriots, Duncan Forbes (1685-1747) of Culloden, Inverness-shire. By that time, the Forbes influence and power had spread well beyond Aberdeen-shire. Hereditary Chief of Clan Forbes is The Right Honorable Lord Forbes, KBE, Premier Baron of Scotland. His son, Malcolm, is the Master of Forbes. 

The gathering cry of 'Lonach' is the name of a hill in Strathdon where the clan assembled in times of trouble. 

The March of the Forbes Men at the annual Lonach Gathering at Strathdon is now an established, hugely popular and stirring part of modern Highland life. 

Books about the Forbes Clan include

Septs of the Forbes

Bannerman, Berrie, Berry, Boyce, Boyes, Fordyce, MacOuat, MacOwat, MacQuattie, MacWatt, Mechie, Mekie, Meldrum, Michie, Middleton, Walter, Walters, Waters, Watson, Watt, Watters, Wattie, Watts.

Tartans of the Forbes

Can be acquired from Heritage of Scotland in various heights and weights, costing from £40 sterling

Forbes Ancient Forbes Ancient 1842Forbes Ancient ClansForbes Ancient ModernForbes Brown ModernForbes Dress Clans Originaux ModernForbes Dress ModernForbes Dress Modern 2Forbes Fashion Modern

Some of the Forbes Clan tartans mentioned below

Branches of the Forbes Clan

 Mostly in Aberdeenshire, are or were the Forbes of Balfluig; Forbes of Belnabodach; Forbes of Boyndlie; Forbes of Brux; Forbes of Callendar; Forbes of Castleton, Forbes of Corse, Forbes of Corsindae, Forbes of Craigievar, Forbes of Culloden (see "Culloden House"), Forbes of Culquhonny, Forbes of Echt, Forbes of Foveran, Forbes of Invernan, Forbes of Kildrummy, Forbes of Ledmacoy, Forbes of Leslie, Forbes of Monymusk, Forbes of Newe, Forbes of Newtownforbes (Eire), Forbes of Pitnacalder, Forbes of Pitsligo, Forbes of Rothiemay, Forbes of Thainston, Forbes of Tolquhoun, Forbes of Towie, Forbes of Waterton.

Forbes Baronets


Forbes Clan connections include

A British Army (Territorial Army) Unit, the Liverpool Scottish, 5/8th (Volunteer) Bn, the King's Regiment, belonging variously to the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and the King's (Liverpool Regiment) and their successors, has worn Forbes tartan since its inception in 1900. The information was kindly supplied by Major Ian L Riley ,TD FSA Scot (retd), Trustee/Webmaster, Liverpool Scottish Regimental Museum. He wrote this to these authors: "From the Boer War to the Great War (1914-18), Narvik and St Nazaire, and most recently Iraq in 2003, Forbes has been represented. We were never quite sure how the tartan came to be Forbes; it is almost certainly NOT related to the fact that the founding commanding officer was Colonel Christopher Forbes Bell." The Liverpool Scottish Regimental Museum Trust is Registered Charity 277953). It is maintained entirely by Voluntary and Regimental Donations."

Alexander Forbes

One of the enduring Forbes forenames, with prominent Forbes who have Included:


Pronounced as Aarford, without the L by most Scots. On the south bank of the River Don, it is famous for five reasons - a battle, a poet, the nearest town to two present or past Forbes bastions and the original home of Aberdeen Angus cattle.  The battle was on July 2, 1645 between the forces of the Marquis of Montrose and covenanting General Baillie. The poet was Charles Murray, with his "Homewith." Castle Forbes and Craigievar Castle (once owned by the Forbeses) are mentioned below. See separate mention of "Forbes Estate" at Alford.

Alyson Valerie Forbes

 Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. 

Andrew Forbes of Corse, Sir, Baronet

He lives in the mansion in the grounds of Corse Castle and is an Honorary Vice Member of the Lonach Highland & Friendly Society.

Anne Forbes

Wife of Ian Forbes.

Archibald Forbes, LLD

Archibald ForbesArchibald ForbesHistory of the Black WatchArchibald Forbes crypt at St. Paul's Cathedral, LondonBook Napoleon the 3rd

Famous Scottish war correspondent, former soldier, author and writer. Born 17th April 1838 in Morayshire, the son of a Presbyterian minister. Died in 1900. Educated at Aberdeen University. Commissioned into the Royal Dragoons of the British Army and gained there considerable practical experience of military life and affairs. Invalided from his regiment, he settled in London, and became a journalist. When the Franco-German (Prussian) War broke out in 1870, he was sent to the front as war correspondent for the Morning Advertiser. His scoops included gaining and writing about the plans of the people of Paris to withstanding a siege. He was with the German army from the beginning of the campaign and afterwards witnessed the rise and fall of the Commune.  When the Daily News engaged him, his war intelligence drew world-wide attention to his reports.  He was also present at the Spanish Carlist War. On several occasions, he contracted a high fever but recovered. In Cyprus, he witnessed the British occupation.  He was in the Russian-Turkish War and the British Army's Afghanistan, Indian and Zululand campaigns. In India, he spent eight months investigating and reporting on the Bengal famine of 1874. He accompanied the Khyber Pass force during its terrible experiences in Afghanistan. In South Africa, he witnessed the British Army's invasion of Zululand. He became famous for his ride of 15 hours to convey the first news of the battle to England, even today one of the finest achievements in journalism. He went to Burma and at Mandalay wrote stirring accounts. His stories, memoirs and adventures were published in hundreds of British and American books and magazines.

They included:

Later, he delivered many lectures on his war experiences to large audiences. His closing years were spent in literary work. He also wrote a volume on his experiences of the war between France and Germany. When he died on 30th March 1900, the City of London created a special crypt in his honor at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, as the bottom right photograph below shows. He was laid to rest in Allen Vale Cemetery in Aberdeen, Scotland, in the section overlooking the River Dee. 

Archibald Forbes

Son of John Forbes (1670-1739) and Margaret Farquharson. Born 1731 in Deskry, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, died 3 December 1793 at New Miln, of Keith, Banffshire. Buried at Strathdon Kirk.

Archibald Christian Forbes

 Born circa 1840, he emigrated to Montreal, Canada. He married twice. He returned to the UK sometime before the 1881 English Census where he is recorded as being 41 years old, a manufactory chemist living at 2 Clara Villas, West Green Road in the civil parish of Tottenham, Middlesex (now London) having a large family comprising Albert Forbes 17, Amy Forbes 27 (his second wife), Annie Forbes 10, Archibald Forbes 41 (himself), Archie Forbes 15, Christian William Forbes 12, Jane F. Forbes 13, Stanley Forbes 9 and Victor Forbes 4.

Archibald Hamilton Forbes

Archibald Hamilton Forbes 1862

Archibald Jones Forbes, DSO

Lieutenant, 2 Battalion, South Wales Borderers. Born in 1873, he served in the Niger Territories in 1898, where he was awarded his DCO medal and bar. He died of dysentery at Pretoria, South Africa on 13 May 1901, aged 28.

Archibald Walter (Bill) Forbes

Grandson of Archibald Christian (via Christian William). Born in London on November 1, 1899. He died in Bermuda when nearly 97 on August 30, 1996. On April 24, 1936 he first arrived in Bermuda by ship from Britain. He led a team of specialists who pioneered in Bermuda for the Imperial Government and Cable & Wireless a superior system and station for Air to Ground radio-direction finding for ships. In 1937, he also helped lead point-to point radio direction finding and telegraph services for aircraft, in particular Imperial Airways (now British Airways) and Pan American, which commenced services by flying boats at the same time. Thus he was very much a pioneer in the development of tourism in Bermuda. During World War 2, he was transferred to St. Lucia, Windward Islands, British West Indies, 1400 miles south of Bermuda, to manage a key wireless service in the Caribbean for the British Government, very close to Vichy-controlled Martinique. There, he married Marie Lucie Therese Devaux, only daughter of a very prominent originally French merchant and planter family. He returned to Bermuda in 1948 for Cable & Wireless with three of his four children, with the fourth born in Bermuda in 1952.

Arthur Forbes, Captain

Captain Arthur ForbesVery little is known about him here, so far. It is assumed he got his title from his service in the British Army. However, he was important enough in England to have his portrait painted by George Romney (1734-1802). The original of this oil on canvas is owned by the Corporation of London.






Arthur Forbis

American Revolutionary War officer. A marksman who shot the first British officer at 150 yards at Guilford Courthouse. Wounded in battle and later died. A monument there indicates he is buried at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. He may have been a Forbes whose name was not spelt correctly by his unit because he spelt it the Highland Scots way, with two syllables.


An estate in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire originally the home of the local branch of the Forbes family when first built of Kildrummy Freestone in 1819. General Charles Forbes, its first owner, after retiring from active service, was Barrack Master at Corgarff Garrison. There was also a Forest of Auchernach, complete with a narrow-gauge horse-drawn railway (stopped in 1919) to take logs.

Banana Manor

A house in Bermuda built in the 1700s by Dr. George Forbes described below.

Bart Forbes

Artist in golf subjects. Bart has a genealogy he keeps up to date that traces the family back to Scotland. The names of John Forbes and Andrew Forbes are specifically included.  Bart is the father of Ted Forbes shown below.

Bertie Charles Forbes

Scots-born (1880) American writer. He first became known for his work "Scottish Stories for the price of 500" in New York in 1945. He died in 1954. He became an American publisher and businessman who founded and edited (1916-1954) Forbes magazine. His son Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (1919-1990), who assumed the editorship in 1957, was an avid collector and set six world records in hot-air ballooning in 1973. Forbes Magazine is famous today.

Bertram Forbes

Harold Bertram Challen Forbes, so-named to honour an uncle of his father, is, by virtue of his special military-related and reserved occupation and linguistic talents a rather elusive figure, so does not and cannot appear on family records. But he is known by his peers to be of impeccable, polished pedigree.


In Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, from the Gaelic "The Howe where cows graze." It has been that for centuries. It is also an interesting archaeological site. Buildings were first recorded here in 1420. Buchaam was the seat of Robert Forbes alias Malcolmson of Culquharry. A new bridge for the Turnpike Road was constructed here in 1858 when the Forbes Family of Castle Newe wanted to improve the public highway.

Camilla (Millie) Forbes

Died in August 2004 from leukemia, at only 21 years old. Eldest daughter of Jonathan Forbes and his wife, Nicky; niece of The Master of Forbes of Castle Forbes and granddaughter of Lord Forbes. On 16th September 2003, many Forbes Clan members received a personal letter from The Master of Forbes, advising us that Nicky was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in August 2002.  On 4th September 2003, The Daily Telegraph  wrote a wonderful article about her.  The Anthony Nolan Trust (ANT) in the UK worked with The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) in the USA and other donor banks around the world to try to find to find a bone marrow/stem cell match for her. It was successful but too late.

Candacraig House and Estate 

Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. The holders for many hundreds of years were the Andersons. The sixth Laird of Candacraig, Duncan Anderson, married Agnes Forbes, daughter of Alexander Forbes of Invernochty. When she died, he married another Forbes, Helen. There was a George Forbes Anderson born in Strathdon in 1818. It can be assumed he too had some connection with the Forbes family. It was a Forbes estate proper for only three and a half decades, from 1866 to 1900 when the 13th laird of the Andersons, Alexander Anderson of Candacraig, later of Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada, sold it to Sir Charles Forbes of Newe. Sir Charles later sold it to A. F. Wallace when Forbes of Newe was in dire financial straits. The Wallaces were shooting tenants before this. The main house was burnt in a 1954 fire and subsequently reconstructed, no longer a Forbes property.

Castle Forbes - Ireland

Granard, Co Longford. The home of Lady Georgina Forbes, daughter of the last Earl of Granard.

Castles and grand homes with a Forbes connection past or present

Once, but no longer.

Asloun Castle Balfluig Castle Brux Castle Brunchew House
Byth House Callendar House Candacraig House & Estate (see above) Castle Forbes, seat of the Forbes, see below
Castle Newe (see below), demolished Colinton Castle Colquhonnie Castle Corgarff Castle (see below)
Corse Castle (see below) Corsindae House Craigievar Castle (see below) Culloden House (hotel, Inverness, see below)
Dounreay Castle Druminnor Castle (see below) Foveran Castle Herbertshire Castle
House of Schivas Leslie Castle Lickleyhead Castle Menie House
Midmar Castle Monymusk Castle Newhall Castle Pitfichie Castle
Pitsligo Castle Skellater House Thornton Castle Tillycairn Castle
Tolquhon Castle Towie Castle Waterton Castle  

Castle Forbes

Castle ForbesForbes Estate Office, Alford, Aberdeenshire AB33 8DR. Telephone 019755 62574/62524. Fax 019755 62898. 

A private castle, with an elegant and exclusive private guest house on its  6,000-acre Forbes Estate.

 Also has holiday (vacation) self-catering cottages. Offers traditional Highland hospitality and heritage. The Georgian castle was built in 1815 by the 17th Lord Forbes, the Premier Baron of Scotland. 

Overlooks the River Don. Weekly rates for the self-catering furnished cottages in the grounds of the castle which sleep 4 to five persons. The property has been continuously in the Forbes family since it was built and is now the home of the son and heir of Lord Forbes, Malcolm, the Master of Forbes and his wife Jinny. The Castle Forbes Collection here has its own brand of perfumes. 

The Master of Forbes, a Deputy Lieutenant of Aberdeen-shire, is an Honorary Vice President of the Lonach Highland & Friendly Society.

Castle Newe and estate

Castle Newe, until 1925Castle NeweAs also shown below in a painting. The castle no longer exists. Before that, it was unique with its onion-shaped tourelles. It was Aberdeen-shire's equivalent to the palaces of the Indian Raj constructed in the hill country of the old Indian Empire. Indeed, the highest tower of Castle Newe was higher than that of the Balmoral home of the Empress of India, Queen Victoria of Great Britain. The facings of Castle Newe, in Kildrummy freestone, were used by the University of Aberdeen at Elphinstone Hall. 

The family fortunes of the Forbes owners of Castle Newe were founded by "Bombay Jock" John Forbes (1743-1821) who made his fortune in then-British India. After him and his wife, there still exists in Bombay both Forbes and Wallace Streets, monuments to Imperialism and its mercantile ramifications. The estate of the castle and John Forbes once included Ardgeith, Bellabeg, Buchaam, Colquhonny, Deskrie, Invernochty, Newe and the Forest of the Bunzeach, Skellater and Tollaskink. It was here that Sir Charles Forbes used his greenhouse studio to experiment successfully with colour photography.

Castle Newe (pronounced Niaow), until demolished in 1925

Armour, fine paneling, furniture, paintings of Forbes forbears and their properties and weapons from the castle went into the old coach house of the castle, which continues to this day as the private house, House of Newe, shown separately below. The Castle Newe papers, not cataloged, are preserved in the special collection at the University of Aberdeen.

Charles Forbes

Colin Forbes

Corgarff Castle

Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Phone 01975 651460. On a height near the head of Strathdon, on the Lecht road leading to Tomintoul, the highest village in Scotland.  In 1571 the home of the Forbeses when 27 members of the family and their household were burned to death by their enemies of the time, the Gordons. A Scots ballad describes the fate of the Forbes daughter who tried to escape from the blazing castle wrapped in sheets: "They row'd her in a pair of sheets and tow'd her owre the wa, but on the point of Edom's spear she got a deadly fa." It became a Forbes castle again from 1715 after the disaster that befell the immediate family of the Earl of Mar when he led the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. It is a tall tower, four storeys high, oblong in plan, with star-shaped ramparts. It replaced the structure destroyed in 1581and dating from 1537 which had been a hunting lodge for the Earls of Mar and in which the tragic events recounted in the ballad "Edom o' Gordon" occurred. It was burnt by the Jacobites in 1689 and by the government in 1716 after the first Jacobite uprising, to punish Mar. It became a barracks for Hanoverian troops in 1748. The Jacobites repossessed it in 1745 during the second Jacobite uprising. The government then took it over and turned it into a garrison again. Its last military use was to combat whisky smuggling. Restored, it is now in care of Historic Scotland. At Corgarff Garrison, after retiring from active service, General Charles Forbes was Barrack Master. Corgarff Kirk was rebuilt in 1834 by Sir Charles Forbes.

Corse Castle

What is left of it is three miles north west of Lumphannan. It is a Z-plan tower with a rectangular main block, a square tower to the north east and a circular tower, now collapsed, to the south east. There is another tower. The lands of Corse formed part of the barony of Coull and O'Neill. The barony was bestowed in 1746 by King James III on his armour-bearer, Patrick Forbes, youngest son of the second Lord Forbes. The builder of the castle was William Forbes, who married Elizabeth Strachan and whose descendants included Patrick Forbes who in 1618 became Bishop of Aberdeen, ten years after his brother, John Forbes, became Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The castle was raided by Highland freebooters in 1638. It was abandoned in the 19th century in favor of the nearby mansion. Sir Andrew Forbes of Corse, Baronet, who lives in the mansion, is an Honorary Vice Member of the Lonach Highland & Friendly Society.

Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle 24 miles south of Alford in Aberdeenshire, east and a little south of Strathdon, in secluded hilly country

Now a property of the National Trust for Scotland. One of the jewels of castles of Scotland. It is a tall and lovely castle without comparison. It exemplifies the best of Scottish baronial architecture. 

It was built in 1626 by William ("Danzig") Forbes, who made his fortune exporting fish and woolen goods to the Baltic and importing Swedish memel pine. He lived there with his wife, Margaret (nee Woodward).

 In 1630, his eldest son, a zealous Covenanter and Member of Parliament, was created a Nova Scotia baronet by King Charles I.  

His portrait is on display, by the Scottish painter George Jamestone. 

The castle has a wonderful collection of Forbes family portraits and 17th to 18th century furniture, available for public viewing in the castle.  

There is also a remarkable, twisting, spiral staircase.  It was once a Forbes ancestral home and is a "must-see" for its uniqueness, for those who can get there by car. 

The baronets of Craigievar sprang from Patrick Forbes of Corse, armour bearer to King James III. The fifth baronet married Sarah, daughter of the twelfth Lord Semphill. 

A grandson, Sir William Forbes, 8th Baronet of Craigievar, became the seventeenth Lord Semphill in 1884. Their seat was Craigievar.  It was acquired in 1963, with 30 acres of land, from the eighteenth Baron Semphill-Forbes family by the National Trust for Scotland. 

Open from April to September 30 from 1:300 to 5:30 pm and the grounds (no formal garden) all year daily from 9:30 am to sunset.

 Photo 1997 by author Keith A. Forbes - all rights reserved - showing co-author Lois A. Forbes and her late sister Carol from the USA, facing front at the base of and admiring the castle.

Culloden House

Culloden House HotelNow a hotel, it was the seat of the Forbes of Culloden from 1626 to 1897. Two miles north-west of the Culloden battlefield, it was then the home of Lord Duncan Forbes of Culloden (see below), then Lord President of the Court of Session. 

Personally opposed to the Jacobite Uprising because it pitted Scots against Scots as well as Scots against the English and Hanoverians, he did his ineffective best to mitigate the fury of the Duke of Cumberland and English king against the defeated Highlanders of Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

At that time, his house was a square Renaissance building but it was burnt later. A new Georgian one was built on the site 1772-1783, with the design of the Adam type. Bonnie Prince Charles is recorded as having stayed there just before the battle of Culloden nearby - on land then owned by the property.

Dame Katherine Trefusis-Forbes

Founder and Air Chief Commandant of the UK's Woman's Auxiliary Air Force.  1899-1971, buried with her husband in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland. 

Dana-Marie Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. Procurator Fiscal Service; Sheriff Court House, Carnegie Drive, Dunfermline, KY12 7HW.

David Gordon Forbes

 Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. Walker Laird; 7/9 Gilmour Street, PAISLEY, PA1 1DG.

Donald F. Forbes

Canadian with a Scottish background. In 1945, he wrote "A Short History of the 1st Battalion North Nova Scotia Highlanders in World War Two." Possibly for the Regiment.

Don Forbes

Doctor. A research scientist with the Government of Canada.

Druminnor Castle

Druminnor CastleOn the banks of the burn of Keron, in a sloping steep valley two miles east of Rynie in Aberdeen-shire, possibly the original Castle Forbes of the Aberdeen-shire Forbeses, pre-dating by centuries the present Castle Forbes. A still older castle further up the Don River existed from 1271 as a result of a grant of land to Duncan Forbes made by King Alexander III. This third Druminnor was built between 1440-1470 and was originally a rectangular block attached to the second tower. The tower house of the 1450s was completely demolished early in the 19th century. The doorway arch of the castle, made of five straight sections, is probably unique in Scotland. The heavy corbelling which carries the circular stair tower squared out to provide the watch-room above three Forbes crests, dates from 1577. 

The castle suffered many tribulations over the years but was finally rescued and restored by the late Honorable Margaret Forbes-Semphill. All the basements are vaulted. The first floor has a superb Great Hall, in which it was said that fifteen Gordons were murdered  by Forbes men during a banquet in 1571, after the latest bout of the protracted Clan feud.

 It was also from this castle that the battle of Tillyangus occured between the Forbeses and Gordons after the Master of Forbes repudiated his wife who was the daughter of the Earl of Huntly. Black Arthur, the brother of Lord Forbes, was killed by William Gordon of Terpersie and the victorious Gordons chased the fleeing Forbes right up to the gates of Druminnor Castle.

Dudley Henry Forbes, Captain

3 Royal Scots. He died of enteric fever at Kroonstad, South Africa, on 21 April 1901 at the age of 28. He was the son of William Forbes of Callander, Perthshire.

Duncan Forbes of Culloden (1685-1747), Lord 

Lord Duncan Forbes of CullodenScottish jurist and patriot. Born at Bunchrew or Culloden near Inverness on 10th November 1685. He attended the universities of Edinburgh and Leiden, Germany. He was called the Scottish Bar in 1709. His own talents and the influence of the Argyll family secured his rapid advancement, which was still further helped by his loyalty to the Hanoverian cause at the period of the rebellion in 1715. In 1722 Forbes was returned as member of Parliament for Inverness and in 1725 he succeeded Dundas of Arniston as Lord Advocate. He inherited the patrimonial estates on the death of his brother in 1734, and in 1737 he attained to the highest legal honors in Scotland, being made lord president of the court of session. As Lord Advocate, he did much to improve the legislation and revenue of the country, to extend trade and encourage manufactures, and no less to render the government popular and respected in Scotland. He initiated many much-needed legal reforms with prompt and impartial administration of the law. 

In 1738, he repeatedly urged the government to consider the expediency of embodying Highland regiments, putting them under the command of colonels whose loyalty could be relied upon, but officering them with the native chieftains and cadets of old families in the north.  He believed that if government could pre-engage the Highlanders in the manner he proposed, they would not only serve well against the enemy abroad, but will be hostages for the good behavior of their relations at home; and he was convinced that it would be absolutely impossible to raise a rebellion in the Highlands. If he had been listened to, it would have stopped the 1745 Jacobite Uprising before it had even started.

In 1739, with Sir Robert Walpole’s approval, the original (1730) six companies (locally enlisted) of the Black Watch were formed into the famous “Forty-second” regiment of the line. The credit given to the earl of Chatham in some histories for this movement is an error; it rests really with Forbes and his friend Lord Islay, afterwards 3rd duke of Argyll. 

He was Lord President of the Court of Session of 1745. On the first rumor of the Jacobite rising, he hastened to Inverness, and through his personal influence with the chiefs of Macdonald and Macleod, those two powerful western clans were prevented from taking the field for Charles Edward. Inverness itself he kept loyal and well protected at the commencement of the struggle, with many of the neighbouring proprietors won over by his persuasions. Personally opposed to the Jacobite Uprising of 1745, he tried in vain to have the battle avoided. But his influence amounted to nothing. Lord Forbes did his best to mitigate the fury of Cumberland and the British Government against the Highlanders. 

But the Scots lost and the British followed up their victory with appalling slaughter. 

His correspondence with Lord Lovat, published in the Culloden papers, affords a fine illustration of his character, in which the firmness of loyal principle and duty is found blended with neighborly kindness and consideration. But the apathy of the government interfered considerably with the success of his negotiations. Advances of arms and money arrived too late, and though Forbes employed all his own means and what money he could borrow on his personal security, his resources were quite inadequate to the emergency. It is doubtful whether these advances were ever fully repaid. Part was doled out to him, after repeated solicitations that his credit might be maintained in the country; but it is evident he had fallen into disgrace in consequence of his humane exertions to mitigate the impolitic severities inflicted upon his countrymen after their disastrous defeat at Culloden. The ingratitude of the government, and the many distressing circumstances connected with the insurrection, sunk deep into his mind. He never fairly rallied from the depression thus caused, and after a period of declining health he died in December 1747.

He was a patriot without ostentation or pretence, a true Scotsman with no narrow prejudice, an erudite scholar without pedantry, a man of genuine piety without asceticism or intolerance. His country long felt his influence through her reviving arts and institutions; and the example of such a character in that coarse and venal age, and among a people distracted by faction, political strife, and national antipathies, while it was invaluable to his contemporaries in a man of high position, is entitled to the lasting gratitude and veneration of his countrymen.

In his happier moments, he cultivated with some success the study of philosophy, theology and biblical criticism. He is said to have been a diligent reader of the Hebrew Bible. His published writings, some of them of importance, include A Letter to a Bishop, concerning some Important Discoveries in Philosophy and Theology (1732); Some Thoughts concerning Religion, natural and revealed, and the Manner of Understanding Revelation (1735); and Reflections on Incredulity (2nd edition 1750). His correspondence was collected and published in 1815, and a memoir of him (from the family papers) was written by Mr Hill Burton, and published along with a Life of Lord Lovat, in 1847. His statue stands in the Parliament House, Edinburgh.

William, Duke of Cumberland, son of the British-Hanoverian monarch George II, earned his nick-name of The Butcher both for the atrocities he personally ordered against captured or wounded Highlanders and for his introduction for many years of petty restrictions on everything unique in Scottish culture and tradition. In comparison, the German-British composer Handel composed the See the Conquering Hero Comes to welcome the Butcher back to London and was present personally at the victory parade in London. Both there and throughout England, a flower was named Sweet William in tribute to William, Duke of Cumberland. The same flower used to be known on Scotland for many years as Stinking Willie. Only relatively few of the Hanoverian troops died in the battle. Despite their names, they are buried in the Field of the English. It is one reason why even today most Scots feel they have much more kinship with the Irish than they do with the English. Laird Duncan Forbes of Culloden, who presented a memorial plaque of the Battle of Culloden in 1881, was the last resident owner of the entire Culloden estate - including the famous Culloden House hotel once owned - as a private house - by this branch of our Forbes Clan. Culloden House is two miles north west of the battlefield. It is of the Adam type. It is not as old as it looks as it replaced in 1772-83 a burnt-down square Renaissance building. It was the seat of the Forbes Clan from 1626 to 1897.

Duncan Forbes

Born 28 April 1798 and died 17 August 1868. Scottish linguist born Kinnaird, Perthshire. Brought up by his grandfather from the age of three after his parents and younger brother emigrated to the United States. Illiterate until 13, he showed no early signs of linguistic ability, but despite this late start, at age 17 he was appointed schoolmaster of the village of Stralock. Shortly after this he attended Kirk Michael school followed by Perth Grammar School and University of St. Andrews, gaining a Masters degree from the latter. In 1823 he took a post at Calcutta Academy, India, but with poor health returned to the UK in 1826. In 1837 he became Professor of Oriental Languages at King's College London and stayed at this post until his retirement in 1861. During his time there  he also worked at the British Museum, cataloguing the collection of Persian manuscripts. He wrote a number of books. He also helped translate or edit a number of books in Urdu, Persian and Arabic, including a translation of Mir Amman's Urdu Bagh o Bahar, or Tales of the Four Darweshes, (which is itself a translation from the Persian of Amir Khusro), and of the Persian Adventures of Hatim Tai.

Edward Forbes

Professor, English naturalist, bio-geography pioneer, born at Douglas, Isle of Man, on 12 February, 1815, died 1854. Second and surviving son of Edward Forbes, of Oakhill and Cronkbane, near Douglas, and Jane, eldest daughter and heiress of William Teare, of Corvalla and Ballabeg, Ballaugh. His great-grandfather, David, one of the Forbes's of Watertown, was born in 1707. Implicated in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745, he left Scotland and went to the Isle of Man, where his son Edward acquired the property of Oakhill. His son Edward was a banker in Douglas. His mother belonged to a Manx family with the same estates in Ballaugh for several centuries. One of her chief pleasures was cultivating flowers and rare plants, probably passed on to her son. At a very early age he was regarded by his family as an intellectual. At 10, he had become a confirmed naturalist. A small wing was added to the house for him where he stored minerals, fossils, shells, dried sea-weeds, flowers, butterflies and more, all duly classified. He had already begun his geological studies and exhibited a taste for drawing. He studied first at Athole House Academy, in Douglas.

He went to Edinburgh University in October 1831 to study medicine, but preferred botany. His teachers included Professors Jameson and Graham. His holidays were spent in botany and dredging excursions with the fauna of the Irish sea on the shores of his native Isle. In 1833 when 18 he went with a fellow student to Norway for several weeks of geological and botanical observations in botanical geography; and on the summer of 1834, to the Isle of Man. In 1835, he went to France, Switzerland, and Germany for more advanced studies in his preferred field. In early 1836, he finally gave up medicine in favor of the study of nature. That summer, he went to the Hebrides and Skye, attended the meeting of the British Association at Bristol, the Isle of Man again, then Paris, to spend the winter in the botanical collections of the Sorbonne. In 1837, he was in Algiers where he investigated the land and mollusks of the sea. An account of this expedition was published in a Natural History journal. From then on, his findings were written up in Britain and abroad.  Still at Edinburgh as a senior student and then an expert, he delivered scientific lectures on zoology and geology. In February, 1841, he was appointed as Naturalist on the survey ship HMS Beacon under Captain Graves, then completing the survey of the coast of Asia Minor and  adjacent islands. His reputation as a botanist and geologist spread further. 

He caught malaria but gradually recovered. He was about to go to Egypt and the Red Sea on another expedition when he  was informed of his appointment as Professor of Botany at King's College, London. Shortly after, he became concurrently, Assistant Secretary of the Geological Society of London. Early in 1843 he joined the Linnaean Society. In February he delivered a lecture to the Royal Institute. At the end of 1844, on the establishment of the Museum of Practical Geology in connection with the Ordnance Geological Survey, Professor Forbes was appointed its paleontologist and resigned his post at the Geological Society. When the museum was removed to Jermyn Street in London, he became its Professor of Natural History. He was a pioneering British naturalist, with an awesome reputation internationally as a man of science.

Elizabeth Adela Armstrong Forbes

Nee Armstrong. Canadian/English artist and painter, 1859-1912. In 1889, she married painter Stanhope Forbes. Her artwork can be found at exhibitions in Canada and United Kingdom.

Ewan Forbes of Craigievar, Sir

Born in 1912, he was the focus of a landmark legal case. He was born a girl, Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill, at Fintray House, Aberdeenshire, daughter of John, 18th Lord Sempill. After studying and qualifying in medicine, she began practice in Alford and quietly changed her gender through application to the Sheriff Court in Aberdeen in 1952. Permission was granted for correction of the birth certificate. A notice appeared in the Aberdeen Press and Journal stating that Elizabeth now wished to be known as Ewan. Some weeks later, Ewan married his housekeeper and in 1965 inherited the baronetcy of Forbes of Craigievar following the death of his brother. Following extended legal challenges from a cousin, conducted under a veil of state secrecy, the case went from the Court of Session, in Edinburgh, eventually to the Home Secretary, James Callaghan. Callaghan ruled in favor of Ewan, who duly became Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar in 1968, having dropped the name of Sempill.

Forbes, Admirals

Several, as follows:

Admiral Ian Forbes

Forbes Arms Hotel

Forbes Arms HotelNear Alford. A hotel with restaurant and public house (bar). Owned by the Castle Forbes estate. Very convenient for anyone staying in the area generally, or attending the Lonach Gathering. A Keith A. Forbes photograph






Forbes College

A part of Princeton University, USA.

Forbes Estate

At Alford, on the south bank of the River Don, it is famous as the original home of Aberdeen Angus cattle, a world-famous meat. The estate has 6,000 acres and belongs to Lord Forbes and his son, the Master of Forbes.

Forbes Gallery

World-famous art gallery in Manhattan, New York, USA. Owned by Forbes Inc. publishers of Forbes Magazine. The gallery has artwork, Presidential papers, historical documents galore, 12,000 lead toy soldiers from Britain and America, 500 toy boats, 12 Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs and more.

Forbes, Generals

How were Scots soldiers were first attracted to the British (English) Army? The process began in 1757 when, in London, Cabinet Minister Mr. Pitt (later, Lord Chatham) recommended to King George II that he employ Highlanders in his service, as the best means of ensuring their loyalty. The king approved the plan and letters of service were immediately drawn up to raise several Highland regiments. Most clans responded positively and many battalions of men signed up, some from the most remote parts of the Highlands. Clan chiefs or their most favored kin obtained commissions.


2nd Lieutenant Percy Forbes, 1st Royal Dragoons, was born in March, 1881. He died of enteric fever at Newcastle, Natal, South Africa, on 31 December 1900 when 19. He was the son of A. J. Forbes-Leith, of Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire.

Forbes, Library

Northampton, Massachusetts, USA. Established by Charles Edward Forbes.

Forbes Lodge

House and garden - including water garden - in Gifford, Borders, belonging to Lady Maryoth Hay, a member of the Gifford Horticultural Society.

Forbes, Lord Mayors beyond Scotland

Forbes Magazine

Founded by the father of American-born Scotland-descended Malcolm Forbes, until 2014 published in the USA by his son Steve.  Timothy C. Forbes was the Chairman of the Board. One of  the most widely read, influential and reliable business and investment magazines in the world, with subsidiaries such as Forbes Global, Forbes ASAP and Forbes FYI. Now owned by a Hong Kong entity.

Forbes poets

They include:

Francis Forbes

Honourable Sir. Bermuda's most distinguished native son jurist, son of the well known Doctor Francis Forbes (whose father, Dr. George Forbes) had emigrated from Scotland in the early 1700s. Dr. Forbes received his training in Edinburgh and was a distant cousin of Lord John Forbes. He became wealthy enough to acquire land in north east USA which was confiscated during the American Revolution and never returned. This Francis Forbes was born on Smith's Island in St. George's Harbour, Bermuda in 1784 and raised in the historic Town of St. George. After serving as Bermuda's Attorney General from 1810, he was appointed Chief Justice of Newfoundland in 1818. He served there from 1816-1821 and was influential in securing Newfoundland colonial status and establishment of constitutional government. With his success there, he was appointed the first ever Chief Justice (1823-1837) of the huge Colony of New South Wales, Australia. He was knighted in 1837. After retirement, he died there on November 8, 1841 and many Forbeses in that region of Australia can be traced directly to him.

Francis Forbes

In 2002, Chief of Police in Jamaica, West Indies.

Captain Frederick E. Forbes

Famous for his rescue of Sara Forbes Bonetta, originally Omoba Aina, She was born in 1843 at Oke-Odan, an African Egbado village. In 1848, Oke-Odan was raided by a Dahomeyan army. Aina's parents died during the attack and she ended up in the court of King Ghezo as a slave at the age of five. Intended by her captors to become a human sacrifice, she was rescued by Captain Frederick E. Forbes of the Royal Navy who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria; "She would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites," Forbes wrote later. Forbes renamed her Sara Forbes Bonetta, Bonetta after his ship HMS Bonetta. In 1850, she met the queen, who was impressed by the young princess's exceptional intelligence, and had the girl, whom she called Sally, raised as her goddaughter. In 1851, Sara developed a chronic cough, which was attributed to the climate of Great Britain. Her guardians sent her to school in Africa in May of that year, when she was aged eight, and she returned to England in 1855, when she was 12. In January 1862, she was invited to and attended the wedding of Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Alice.

Fyvie Castle

In the parish and close to the village of Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, in a pleasant wooded vale of the River Ythan. 500 years old  in parts, it is considered one of the crowning glories of Scottish architecture. But only in quite recent years, when it was owned by and was the home of Sir Andrew Forbes-Leith and later, Sir Ian Forbes-Leith, the Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, can it claim a Forbes connection. Before that, it was owned by Lord Leith, great grandfather of Sir Andrew Forbes-Leith. Before then, it was the property of the Preston, Meldrum, Seton and other families. To keep it in perpetuity as a monument to Scotland, it was bought from the Forbes-Leith family by the National Trust for Scotland.

George Forbes

Several, including:

Georgina Forbes, Lady

She lives at Castle Forbes, Granard, Co Longford, Ireland, with a lovely garden open to the public. She is the daughter of the last Earl of Granard, the Irish Forbes. She is very active in providing sanctuaries for mistreated animals, once donkeys and horses, now dogs. She has homes in various places and a lighthouse in the Atlantic. Her grandfather was Ogden Mills of Staatsburg in the Hudson River Valley. She and Lady Helen Forbes from Scotland are often together.

Gordon Forbes

There were and are numerous. They include:

Gregor David Edward Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. A. C. White; 23 Wellington Square, AYR, KA7 1HG.

Hamish Stewart Forbes of Newe, MBE, MC, Major, Sir, 7th Baronet

Sir Hamish Forbes & James ForbesDied 2007. World War 2 hero and prisoner of war repeated escape artist, He was the Patron of the Lonach Highland & Friendly Society. 

He is shown on the right of this photograph, wearing his own distinctive brown tartan. 

His son and heir, on the left, is Sir James Forbes of Newe, Strathdon, and California, USA. He is wearing the usual Forbes tartan. 

Photograph by author Keith A. Forbes at the 2001 Lonach Highland Games and Gathering




Hamish Mackenzie Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. Aberdein, Considine & Co.; 8/9 Bon Accord Crescent, ABERDEEN, AB11 6DN.

Ian Forbes

Scots and English, he and his wife Anne live in Northamptonshire. They try to go to Scotland for two weeks every year for The Lonach Highland Gathering & Games. There are many other Ian Forbes worldwide.

James Bennie Cook Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. Burness; 50 Lothian Road, Festival Square, EDINBURGH, EH3 9WJ.

James David Forbes

1809-1868. Physicist and philosopher, fourth son of Sir William Forbes, 7th baronet of Pitsligo. Born in Edinburgh on 20th April 1809. He entered the university of Edinburgh in 1825, and soon afterwards began to contribute papers to the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal anonymously under the signature "S." At the age of nineteen he became a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 1832 he was elected to the Royal Society of London. A year later he was appointed professor of natural philosophy in Edinburgh University, in succession to Sir John Leslie and in competition with Sir David Brewster, and during his tenure of that office, which he did not give up till 1860, he not only proved himself an active and efficient teacher, but also did much to improve the internal conditions of the university. In 1859 he was appointed successor to Brewster as Principal of the United College of St Andrews, a position which he held until his death in December 1868. As a scientific investigator he is best known for his researches on heat and on glaciers. Between 1836 and 1844 he published four series of “ Researches on Heat.” His work won him the Rumford medal of the Royal Society in 1838, and in 1843 he received its Royal medal for a paper on the ”Transparency of the Atmosphere and the Laws of Extinction of the Sun’s Rays passing through it.” In 1846 he began experiments on the temperature of the earth at different depths and in different soils near Edinburgh, which yielded determinations of the thermal conductivity. Towards the end of his life he was occupied with experimental inquiries into the laws of the conduction of heat in bars, and his last piece of work was to show that the thermal conductivity of iron diminishes with increase of temperature.

His attention was directed to the question of the flow of glaciers in 1840 when he met Louis Agassiz at the Glasgow meeting of the British Association, and in subsequent years he made several visits to Switzerland and also to Norway for the purpose of obtaining accurate data. His observations led him to the view that a glacier is an imperfect fluid or a viscous body which is urged down slopes of a certain inclination by the mutual pressure of its parts. Forbes was also interested in geology, and published memoirs on the thermal springs of the Pyrenees, on extinct volcanoes and on the geology of the Eildon hills etc; In addition to about 150 scientific papers, he wrote Travels through the Alps of Savoy and Other Parts of the Pennine Chain, with Observations on the Phenomena of Glaciers (1843); Norway and its Glaciers (1853); Occasional Papers on tile Theory of Glaciers (1859); A Tour of Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa (1855). He was also the author (I852) of the “Dissertation on the Progress of Mathematical and Physical Science,” published in the 8th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

James Hyde Forbes

Alton's first commuter to St. Louis, USA. He founded the James H. Forbes Coffee & Tea Company in St. Louis before moving to Alton. He commuted back & forth to St. Louis daily on the packet boats. He was buried in the Alton Cemetery, Alton, Illinois, USA.

James Hyde Forbes II

Born February 25, 1895, died July 26, 1968. He succeeded his father Robert Magnus Forbes and grandfather James Hyde Forbes - see above - as President of the Jas. H. Forbes Tea and Coffee Co. in St. Louis, MO. He was born in Alton, IL and commuted to St. Louis daily until his marriage to Muriel Morgan of St. Louis in 1938. They lived in St. Louis until his retirement in 1957, when they moved to Sarasota, FL. They had one son, Charles P. Forbes (b. Oct. 5, 1940, St. Louis). He is buried in the Alton Cemetery, Alton, Illinois, USA.

James Staats Forbes 

1823-1904. Chairman of various London Underground railways between 1899 and 1902. Also General Manager of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. He was a keen collector of contemporary art, an art  connoisseur and uncle to Stanhope Forbes, RA, the artist widely viewed as the founder of the Newlyn School of art at the end of the 19th Century. A likeness of him (# 10400883) is in the Science and Society Library.

James Thomas Stewart Forbes, Sir, 8th Baronet

Born 1957, son of the late Sir Hamish Stewart Forbes, MBE, MC, Knight of the Venerable Order of St. John, 7th Baronet (1916–2007).

Jennifer Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. Procurator Fiscal Service; Procurator Fiscal's Office, St. Marnock Street, KILMARNOCK, KA1 1DZ.

Jillian Carole Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. Aberdeen City Council; Legal & Democratic Services, Town House, Broad Street, ABERDEEN, AB10 1AQ.

J. Foster Forbes, Lieutenant - Colonel

Died in 1914, at Rothiemay Castle in Banffshire. His ghost has been seen a number of times.

John "Bombay Jock" Forbes of Newe

1743-1821, he founded the family fortune that led to the erection of Castle Newe and more. His estates in Strathdon alone included Ardgeith, Buchaam, Colquhonny, Culqaharrie, Deskrie, Bellabeg, Invernochty, Newe and the Forest of the Bunzeach, Skellater and Tollaskink.

John Forbes

Johnston Forbes-Robinson (1853-1937), Sir

English actor.

Jonathan Forbes

Younger brother of The Master of Forbes of Castle Forbes in Aberdeenshire. He and his wife Nicky have several children including their eldest daughter Camilla (Millie) Forbes, mentioned earlier by name. She is a niece of The Master of Forbes of Castle Forbes and granddaughter of Lord Forbes.

Kathryn Forbes

Author, she was born in the USA on March 20, 1908 and died on May 15, 1966. She wrote "Mama's Bank Account," the basis for "I Remember Mama." She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Section 5, Row 8, Grave 35,  in Colma, California. 

Keith Archibald Forbes

Keith and Lois ForbesThere are many, worldwide. 

One of them authors this website and also updates and webmasters the 165 web files of Bermuda Online






Kenneth Forbes

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on July 4, 1892, he enlisted in 1914 and served with the 10th Royal Fusiliers. Following service in France, Captain Forbes was recalled to London and transferred to the Canadian forces as a war artist. One of his many paintings is of Canadian artillery in action. Forbes resigned from the Royal Canadian Army in 1959 and died in Toronto.

Kip Forbes

American, Vice Chairman of Forbes Inc, international magazine publishers, which also owns the Manhattan-based Forbes Gallery.

Sarah Forbes Bonetta



Old name for region including Tarves. In the 17th century, Sir Samuel Forbes of Foveran wrote how many other Forbes Clan areas were here. It was the land between the rivers Ythan and Don. This area of Aberdeenshire still exists but is now known as the parish or district of Buchan.  Up to four hundred years ago, it was spelt Buquhan. This is how it is shown in this reproduction of a map of the Kingdom of Scotland. It was first published in 1610 by well-known mapmaker John Speed. The North Sea was then known as the "Germane Sea." The town (now city) of Aberdeen was "Aberdone." Today, the Forbes Clan areas in Buchan or not too far from it are mentioned under the names of the local town or village.

House of Newe

Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. A private house and quite recently a guest house.  At one point it was the laundry for Castle Newe. It is owned by Mr. George M. Hardie.  It is set in its own grounds in its own Scottish glen. It contains much Forbes memorabilia from the former Castle Newe, demolished in 1925. The late Elspeth Hardie, wife of George Hardie, was a daughter of the late Sir John Stewart Forbes, Baronet, DSO, DL, JP, 1901-1984, shown in the photograph below. Her many talents included being an accomplished teacher of music.  George Hardie, her husband, on the left, is a well-known artist, designer, teacher of art and a former Honorary Vice President of the Lonach Highland Games.  One of their daughters is Katherine, an artist, jeweler and silversmith. A son is musician Jonathan Forbes Hardie. He plays the fiddle, mandolin and backs vocals.  Further up the glen in Corgarff lived Elspeth's elder sister Zilla and her husband Colonel Tuck, in Allargue House. 

House of Newe, StrathdonHouse of Newe 01House of Newe 02

Forbes of Newe ancestor 01Forbes of Newe ancestor 02Forbes of Newe ancestor 3

Some Forbes of Newe ancestors, from paintings

Lonach and Friendly Society

The organization hosting the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.

Lonach Hall

Lonach Highland Gathering and Lonach Highlanders

Lonach flag

Phone 01975 651772.  Patron and leader: Sir James Forbes of Newe. Since 1823. Every 4th Saturday in August, at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Also, the watch-word of the men of Strathdon and the motto of the world-wide Clan Forbes. Founded by Sir Charles Forbes. It is said to be Scotland's friendliest games. Other events of the full day at Bellabeg Park include Highland Games (including tossing the caber and throwing the hammer), best dressed Scotsman competition, parades, Highland Dancing, children's foot race and the ladies tug of war contest and the Beating of the Retreat. If a Forbes family member from abroad attends the Lonach and hopes to find Forbes Clan items on sale, be aware you may be disappointed. It is distinctly odd that for a famous Forbes event there is no Forbes memorabilia available.

Lonach parade, led by Forbes tartan pikemen

The Clansmen - led by Forbes, see photo above - but with some other clans too - are dressed in full highland dress - all in their proper clan kilts - and carry battle pikes and axes, marching over the hills for about 6 miles

The day's events start with the March of the Clansmen at 8 am where, carrying pikes and standards, they visit prominent households in the area claiming a wee dram of whisky at each stop. This includes a visit to Candacraig House, a former Forbes property and more recently where Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson one lived. They attend most years and often bring many of their show business friends such as Dame Judi Dench, Steve Martin, Steve Buscemi, Eric Idle, Anna Friel, David Thewlis, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Izzard, Brian Cox and Adrian Quinn. . Other stops on the March's route includes the Strathdon Schoolhouse, Roughpark, Tornashean, Bellabeg House and Lonach Hall. With a wee dram from each stop, the marching clansmen still maintain the tradition of being followed by a horse and cart should any feel the need for a wee rest! One of the duties of the Lonach Highlanders is to safeguard the 1474 broadswords of William Forbes of Daug and the 1513 claymore of Alexander Forbes of Newe.

Forbes kilts worn by Lonach ladies

Lonach men in their Forbes kilts armed wih pikes

Lonach Highland Games

Lonach Highlanders Superb group of Strathdon-based pipes and drums band. They all wear Forbes kilts and are a featured attraction at the annual Lonach Games.

Lonach Gathering

The famous Lonach Highlanders, all in their Forbes kilts.

Malcolm Forbes

Born in the USA in 1919, he was a millionaire publisher of the famous Forbes business and finance magazine founder by his father. He was a State Senator for New Jersey from 1951-1958. He was also a frequent visitor to Scotland, an internationally famous balloonist, first person to fly from coast to coast in a hot-air balloon and an adventurer in many other ways. Forbes Magazine is now mostly owned by a Hong Kong-based firm. 

Master of Forbes

Malcolm, the Master of Forbes, is the son of the Premier Baron of Scotland - a great grandson three times over of the 18th Lord Forbes. He is married to Jinny. They live at Castle Forbes in Alford. The Master of Forbes is an Honorary Vice President of the Lonach Highland & Friendly Society. 


Monymusk ChurchMonymusk in centreA historic township, once a Forbes bastion. The Monymusk Stone and Monymusk Reliquary or Brecbannock were here. Monymusk Castle was then owned by the Forbes. (Interestingly, Monymusk Castle still exists today, as a sleek 35 foot cabin cruiser on the Caledonian Canal running from Inverness to Banavie. 

Forbes lairds who acquired Monymusk from the commendatory prior of the monastery after the Reformation later sold it to Sir Francis Grant, later Lord Cullin. 

For the last 900 years, life in this beautiful village focuses around its church, the ancient Priory and Parish Church of St. Mary. 

The first missionaries were the Culdees or Servants of God. 

Very little is known about them but it is very unlikely they were Celtic or sent from Rome.  They were probably followers of St. Ninian and his missionaries from Whithorn in Galloway. 

In its long list of recorded clergy from 1337, Forbes Clan members were prominent. They included:

Worth acquiring is the 6-page leaflet on St. Mary's Church in Monymusk, an Historical Sketch by Dr. Jon Whitely. Graves of Forbeses at the Monymusk Churchyard include Robert Forbes, MA. His children included Rachel and Robert (third son). Like him, they were buried there. Also interred there is Lewis Forbes. Died 25  January 1975 aged 62, the husband of Isabelle Thomson.

Neil David Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. 

New Pittsligo

A large village in Aberdeenshire to the south east of Fraserburgh. This is the last remaining link with the original Pittsligo. The Lords Pitsligo were descendents of William, a son of Sir John Forbes of Forbes. He lived in the reign of King Robert II (1371-90). In the days of the 4th and last Lord Pittsligo, a Forbes, before the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 when he fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie and had his entire estate and more forfeited by the British Government after the Battle of Culloden in Inverness-shire in 1746, it was a wilderness, then part of the upper barony of Pittsligo. The transformation was begun by Sir William Forbes, a banker and great nephew of Lord Pittsligo. The village is plain, the surrounding countryside is austere but New Pittsligo has contributed much to the life of Scotland because of Sir William Forbes.


In County Longford, Republic of Ireland (Eire). Named by the Earl of Granard (Irish Forbes), it is merely a hamlet near the large county town of Longford but is delightful. There is a lovely and charming hotel here, Eden House, once owned by the estate of Castle Forbes nearby. The authors stayed here in June 2002 and recommend it to all as far better value than any hotel in Dublin about 100 kilometers away - and with plenty of parking which many hotels in Dublin don't have.  In the grounds of the hotel is a sign pointing to Castle Forbes Kitchen Gardens. Although there is an entrance in the middle of the hamlet to the huge estate (more than 2,000 acres) of Castle Forbes, the castle itself is nowhere to be seen. It is hidden deep in the woods and is strictly private although it has been painted by a local artist. The two churches in the village, Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic, on opposite sides of the street geographically, are interesting for their Forbes connections. The non-Catholic Forbes of Granard are buried at the Church of Ireland. Behind the Catholic church is a fascinating vault. Peer through it to see the coffins of a former Catholic Countess of Granard and family.

Old Deer

This village and parish is in Aberdeenshire between the Rivers Ythan and Deveron, in the area known as Buchan. It is best known for one of the most precious relics of the old Celtic church, the Book of Deer. Those with a particular fascination for Christian heritage will find fascinating the story of "The Rabbling of the Deer" in 1711. It involved Episcopalians and Jacobites who tried to incite a riot over the appointment of a Presbyterian minister to replace an Episcopalian minister who had died. As the majority of parishioners were Episcopalians, they had a temporary victory. But in 1719, the fiercely Presbyterian Reverend John Forbes - another of the ilk with the name John - was appointed to the Church of Deer. He was successful, but it may well have been due in part to the fact that he was a sturdy man who looked like he could win a fight - and preached his sermons with a sword showing clearly on the pulpit cushion!

Patrick Forbes, Bishop

Bishop Patrick Forbes (1564-1635)The most prominent of three Forbes bishops mentioned by name at the lovely ancient Cathedral Church of St. Machar in Old Aberdeen. It was founded in 580 AD by St. Machar, a companion of St. Columba of Iona. The present building dates from circa 1350-1520. It was a Catholic church until the Scottish Reformation of 1560. After 1690, it went from Episcopalian to Presbyterian (without bishops). It is now the parish church of Old Aberdeen, the most historic and university part of Aberdeen. Bishop Patrick Forbes (1564-1635) was by birth the laird of Corse and O'Neil, Aberdeenshire. He was the elder brother of "Willie the Merchant" Forbes who built Craigievar Castle.

 He was at Stirling Grammar School, Glasgow University and St. Andrew's. He went to England to continue his studies at Oxford. On his return, in obedience to his father’s wish he gave up study, lived in Montrose and married. In 1598 he inherited and returned to Aberdeenshire where he was called in as a prominent educated layman to help the Reformed Church then short of ministers and, in that area, struggling against a revival of Romanism. 

In 1611 he agreed to ordination and was presented to Keith, where he wrote a commentary to the Apocalypse in addition to several anti-Catholic pamphlets. King James appointed him to the See of Aberdeen in 1618. He was a moderate man for his times. He supported the burning of witches, disagreed with the toleration of non­conformists, searched out and punished Catholics and Jesuit priests. Yet his views on bishops were by no means those of Laud and the Anglicans: he held that Apostolic Succession was only of those ‘whose obedience and life are those of the apostles’. 

On the nature of the true church his views were like those of Calvin. While convinced of the right of the king to rule in certain matters, and he spoke in the General Assembly in favour of James’ hated Five Articles of Perth, he ruled against the king's wishes in one case, saying that he owed his appointment to the king but his conscience to God. He was among the best of the early post-reformation bishops and had his type continued over the next generations much division and bloodshed might have been avoided. As Bishop of Aberdeen and later as Chancellor of King's College at the University of Aberdeen, he was much loved and admired. 

Peter Douglas Ramsay Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. 

Pitfichie Castle

On the right bank of the River Don in Aberdeenshire, it is a mile north of Monymusk, a rectangular block of four storeys with a large round tower, well worth seeing. Much of the castle fell in 1936 but has since been restored with assistance from the Historic Buildings Council of Scotland. At one time, it was a Forbes domain, but not until one of the previous owners of the Urrie or Hurry family (including General Hurry of the UK Civil War) was outlawed for raiding the homes of the tenants of the Forbes of Forneidlie and stole their cattle. In 1657, the property was acquired by the Forbes of Monymusk. John Forbes of Pitfichie raised taxes for the Jacobite army in 1715.

Pittencrieff House Museum

Dunfermline, Scotland. Former home of General John Forbes - see www.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Founded and named after his political patron William Pitt the Elder by General John Forbes - see Colonel George Washington served under him and served in the same campaign to finally defeat the French who then held that part of the USA. There is a prominent monument to the general in the city.

Ronald Christopher Forbes

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland.

Robert Forbes

Rhoda Forbes

Award-winning artist from Canada, she works primarily with gourds.

Sheila Margaret Forbes

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland.

Skellater House and Estate

Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. It was one of the famous estates of Forbes, consisting of a main house, cottage and outbuildings. It was built by Lachlan Forbes in 1727 who placed his motto in stone over the front door. All the Forbes of this house were staunch Jacobites despite being Scottish Presbyterian. By then the original Roman Catholic aspect of support for the Stuarts of the late previous century had become much more nationalistic and much less religious, especially after the first Jacobite Uprising of 1715 and again in 1745, sometimes dividing both clans and clan members. George Forbes of Skellater fought for Bonny Prince Charles at Culloden and after many attempts to hide from the victorious Hanoverians went into exile for his Prince and died in France in October 1767. General "Red Jock" John Forbes also lived here. Ian Roy (Red John in English) of Skellater was quite a soldier of fortune and reputed to have married a Portuguese princess. A very rare volume exists about him; "Ian Roy of Skellater, A Soldier of Fortune, Being the Life and Times of General John Forbes of the Portuguese Army." By James Neill  M.D., Aberdeen, MDCDII. In the 1800s, the estate was sold to the Forbes of Newe family before it passed out of Forbes hands. Later, it became a McHardy house. Skellater House  was re-built in the 1970's and recently resold. Recent owners were Alan & Elizabeth Thompson who moved from Washington DC to live here.. Mrs. Thompson did some work on the history of the house and its occupants.

Stanhope Forbes

Son of a rail tycoon, also in rail. His brother William was knighted.

Steve Forbes 

Son of the famous Malcolm Forbes and grandson of the man who founded Forbes Magazine mentioned earlier. In the last US Presidential election, he stood as a moderate Republican candidate and urged a platform of fiscal responsibility. He was defeated in the election by George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Among his many functions, he has taken groups of Forbes Magazine readers on investment seminars on a cruise ship.


With an emphasis on the second syllable. A wide area of rural Aberdeenshire, west of Aberdeen. The Forbes were once the biggest and post powerful of Scottish clans in the area. From Glenkindie to Glenernan there is a considerable arable land along the river, with some fine haughs regularly subdivided and enclosed. The lower slopes of the hills are mostly covered with thriving plantations, especially Newe, Candacraig, Inverernan, and Edinglassie. From Glenernan to the Castle of Corgarff the strath becomes narrower, the mountains rising almost from the stream, with occasional patches of cultivation clumps of planted firs, and copse-wood consisting of birch and aspen trees. From Corgarff to the source of the Don 2,070 feet above sea level on the Banff-shire boundary, see moss and moorland mountains.

Strathdon Kirk 

Captain Alexander Forbes MemorialMajor General David ForbesVisible from five glens and referred to locally as the "Cathedral of the Strath." It has a stately arch and steeple. Many Forbes are buried here. It is their parish church. It looks much older than it actually is. It was built in 1851 as an estate chapel - for the Castle Newe estate (see earlier). Now it is the parish kirk. The original accommodation was for 650 persons. The mason was a local man of great character known as "Lame Willlie" who was known to be a drinking friend of the local carpenter who also made coffins. At one point, considerable restoration was done to re-roof the hammer-beamed building. Long-term restorations were finally completed in 1973. Broken monuments in the churchyard still testify to an early right of the parish minister to graze cattle on the churchyard grass. Local history recounts earlier funerals. Coffins carried on stilts wound their way through winter snowstorms. 

Charles Forbes memorialAlexander Forbes the Younger"The Mort Safe" outside the church door ensured a lying in period safe from the hands of the less saintly or grave robbers, as six men were needed to raise the iron lid. Special clothing would be sewn for the departed whose departure would be well toasted with a dram. In 1875, this kirk (church) and parish were shown as Invernochty, in an area which included Corgarff. 

That name was because the church was situated at one period at the confluence of the Nochty and the Don. But it was not known by the Invernochty name long before this. At one time, it was one of the few Gaelic speaking parishes in Aberdeenshire. But Gaelic has not been spoken in the district since the 19th century, unlike in the district of Corgarff where it was still known. 

The kirk is 952 feet above sea level. It has two graveyards - one besides the church and the other opposite the church. Both have many graves of men, women and children of the Forbeses. Inside the kirk is a feature more common among many much older churches - dozens of striking memorials, including a significant number of Forbeses such as those shown above and below photographed by this author.

Memorial to Nathaniel ForbesMemorial to Major Alexander Forbes

Strathdon Volunteers

In 1798, with the imminent Napoleonic threat of invasion from France, almost all the tenants of John "Bombay Jock" Forbes Newe in his many nearby estates of Ardgeith, Buchaam, Colquhonny, Culqaharrie, Deskrie, Bellabeg, Invernochty, Newe and the Forest of the Bunzeach, Skellater and Tollaskink, enrolled as volunteers in this militia unit. It never saw action.

Stuart David Foster Forbes 

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland. 

Susan Elizabeth Forbes

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland.

Susan Jane Forbes

Solicitor, Law Society of Scotland.


Tolquhon CastleNortheast of Monymusk, another former Forbes domain. Was once in the Thanage of Fermartyn. In the 15th century, by then called the Thanage of Formartine (see old map above of Formartine), it was divided between the two heiress daughters of Sir Henry Preston of Fyvie. One married Alexander Meldrum who inherited the Fyvie half of the thanage. The other daughter, Marjorie, married Sir John Forbes, whose branch of the Forbes family - the Forbeses of Tolquhon - first obtained their land holdings in this vicinity in 1420. They were cadets of the family of Lord Forbes. They are descended from Sir John Forbes, third son of Sir John Forbes. He was the Chief Justice of Aberdeen in the reign of King Robert II of Scotland (1371-1390). One of their members fell at the battle of Pinkie on 10 September 1547. For her marriage, Marjorie was given title to the Tolquhon portion. They lived at Tolquhon Castle (see above), now a ruin, near Tarves, begun in the 15th century with the Preston Tower. William Forbes, seventh laird, built the large quadrangular mansion that became Tolquhon Castle. His stately tomb is in a special section of the graveyard of the parish church at Tarves, known as the Tolquhon Aisle. Sir Alexander Forbes of Tolquhoun saved the life of King Charles II at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Tolquhon Castle ruins are open daily to the general public, maintained by Historic Scotland. There is also "A Short History of Tarves" - sponsored by the Tarves Literary Society of 1956, by the distinguished Aberdeen historian, W. Douglas Simpson. Today, there is the  wonderful book, "Tarves Lang Syne" - the Story of a Scottish Parish - by William A. Porter, available in Tarves for 9.99 pounds sterling. It has color front and back illustrations, with 216 pages. It mentions many Forbeses who were once prominent residents of Tarves and goes into their histories.

With a pretty village and distinctive landmark the Prop of Ythsie, which towers over the Tarves landscape.

Urquhart Castle

Inverness-shire. Once a Forbes stronghold. One of Scotland's most-visited attractions. Not in Aberdeenshire, obviously, but it is not well-known that one of our ancestors was Alexander de Forbes. He was the eldest son of Fergus de Forbes. He was appointed Governor of Urquhart Castle. In 1303/4, after John Balliol (the "empty coat" king of Scotland at the time finally turned, after too many humiliations, against King Edward of England and made an alliance with King Philip of France - and began the long Scottish connection with France -  he defended it against King Edward I of England. It was when William Wallace was being hunted down by Edward. Alexander de Forbes had with him in the castle his wife, heavily pregnant and about to give birth. For her safety and preservation of the succession of his family he was most anxious that a means be found of conveying her through the English lines. One day, the gate of the castle opened, and the English saw a beggar woman emerge, apparently involuntarily. The tale she told was that she had happened to be inside the castle when the siege began, but that now, as provisions were running short, the garrison were no longer willing to feed a useless mouth, and had driven her out. The English believed this account and allowed her to pass. Her husband, Alexander de Forbes, Governor of the castle, personally saw her make her way to safety. Alexander de Forbes was forced to surrender with his garrison, but the English put every man alive to the sword, including de Forbes, after having accepted their surrender. But not long later, his wife gave birth to a son, and the succession of the Forbes family was preserved. Her late husband was buried under a rock in Glen Urquhart. Many of his clansmen were buried in unmarked graves on the site or in the glen. Alexander de Forbes (Alexander's son, also named Alexander, supported Robert Bruce and Bruce's son King David II. He was killed in 1332 at Duplin, fighting at King David's side). It is said that Forbes Clan members from abroad who visit Scotland in late June when it is still not dark at 2 am and go by boat near the castle can hear ghostly sounds of Forbes men, women and children being slaughtered in the 1300s.

William Forbes

There are many by this name, among them:

Col William Archibald Forbes

See above

By this same author

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