Clarke Sept of the MacIntosh Clan

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            The armorial badge which all members of the Clan are entitled to wear embodies the crest of the Chief's Coat of Arms with a wildcat encircled by a strap and buckle bearing the motto: "Touch not the cat but a glove (in Gaelic, "Na bean don chat gun lamhainn".) The motto's meaning is: Touch not the cat (when it is) without a glove. The glove of the wildcat is the soft, under part of his paw, and when assuming a war-like attitude, the paw is spread or ungloved revealing very dangerous claws. The motto is a warning to those who would be so imprudent as to engage in battle when the claw of the wildcat is ungloved.


Family Name History


The Scottish surname Clarke is of occupational origin, being of that category of surnames derived from the position held or the profession pursued by the original bearer, a common means of identification in the days before the advent of the heraldry surname system.  In this instance the name is traceable to the Old English term “clerc” which originally denoted one who was a member of a religious order, a cleric.  As all writing and secretarial work in medieval time was done by the clergy, the term came to refer to “scholar, recorder or penman”.  The earliest reference to this name in written records in Scotland occurs in the twelfth century when the “Liber Saint Marie de Clarchou; Registrum Cartarum Abbacie Cironesis de Kelso” makes mention of a Roger Clericus who held lands there in 1174.

            The Clarke family were a sept or sub-Clan of the ancient and noble MacIntosh clan who claim decent from the Seach (Shaw), son of a MacDuff, thane of fife.  It is said that this ancestor helped King Malcolm IV to suppress a rebel uprising in Moray in 1160 and for this service he was awarded lands near Inverness and the constableship of that castle where he then established the clan’s chief seat.  This clan was one of great influence and power in Scottish history and it was they, under the command of MacGillivray, who were the first to charge at the Historic battle of Culloden in 1746.

            A notable bearer of this name was Henry James Clarke (1765-1818), a French marshal and statesman, who when employed to watch Napoleon Bonaparte, became his ally and minister of war.



Quarterly, first or a lion rampant gules, second argent a dexter band fesseways, couped at the wrist and holding a human heart gules, third azure a boars head or, forth or a lymphad, her oars in saltire sable.





Author Dale C. Clarke.
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