| The promontory of Easter Ross
has not only given its name to a mediaeval
earldom and a modern country, but also a clan.
Said to be of Norman origin, but probably
descended from Gilleon na h-airde, ancestor of
Anrias, whose descendant Fearchar Mac an
t-Sagairt, (Farquhar the Priest's Son),
helped crush a rebellion for the Crown in 1005.
For his services he was knighted and recognized
as Earl of Ross in 1234.
The earldom of Ross in the
north was ancient and its possessors held
enormous power, judicial and otherwise. It was
important to the southern-based monarchs that the
earldom was held by suitable representatives and
because of this, the title was awarded by
successive kings to various holders.
A family of Ross acquired
lands in Ayrshire and Renfrewshire in the twelfth
century. They are believed to have come from
Yorkshire, and a Godfrey de Ros obtained the
lands of Stewarton in Cunningham.
Balnagown, Easter Ross, was
the castle held by the ancient chiefly house of
the Earls of Ross who did not carry the surname
of Ross; but when the title passed through the
female line, they seem to have adopted the name
as male representatives. In 1372 it passed to an
heiress, while the chiefship became vested in the
girl's uncle, Hugh Ross of Balnagown.
At Tain in Easter Ross stood
the shrine of the Celtic Saint Duthac, which
acquired extraordinary celebrity, until by the
Middle Ages it had become a place of sanctuary.
Although Tain fought for centuries to maintain
its position as the capital of Ross, Dingwall is
today the county town.
On the death of William, Earl
of Ross, the chiefship of the clan passed to his
brother Hugh Ross of Rariches, who obtained a
charter of the lands of Balnagowan in 1374, and
for over three centuries the Rosses of Balnagowan
remained the principal family of the clan. David
Ross, the last of the direct line of Balnagowan,
settled the estate on the Hon. Charles Ross, son
of Lord Ross of Hawkhead, Renfrewshire.
The chiefship is now vested in
Ross of Pitcalnie, heir of the line of David,
last of the old family of Balnagowan.