Articles on the Passing of
Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel, XXVI Chief of Clan Cameron
Cameron Mourns Death of its Leader
by Iain Ramage
from the Press & Journal
28 May 2004
The Cameron clan is mourning the loss of its leader.
Tributes were being paid last night to Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron
of Lochiel, the 26th chief and captain of Clan Cameron, who has died at
the age of 93.
He died peacefully at his home, the clan's spiritual headquarters of
Achnacarry Castle, near Fort William, with his wife, Lady Margaret, and
other members of the family at his bedside.
A former Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire, Sir Donald is survived by
Lady Margaret, four children, 14 grandchildren and four great
grandchildren. His family said last night they were "deeply
saddened" by their loss.
Speaking from the family home, his elder son, Donald, said: "We will
always miss his optimism and enthusiasm. He got on well with everybody. He
was a great Scot, living here for 50 years. He loved Scotland and never
went away for any time at all. He particularly loved Lochaber.
"On hearing the news, people from the clan have been ringing from as
far as New Zealand and Australia to offer their sympathy. They are very
loyal friends, and loved and respected him very much."
He added: " I loved him for his sense of humour, enthusiasm and
optimism. He was always looking forward and loved life. Even yesterday, he
was doing the Press and Journal crossword."
Sir Donald, known simply as Lochiel, was made a Knight of the Thistle by
the Queen in November, 1973. His brother, Charlie Cameron, 83, speaking
from his home in Nairn, said last night: "I am very glad I saw him
just a fortnight ago. We talked a lot about old times. His memory was very
good. He was remarkably spry."
Born on September 12, 1910, to Sir Donald Walter Cameron and Lady Hermione
Emily Graham, the younger daughter of the fifth Duke of Montrose, Lochiel
was educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford.
He became a chartered accountant and embarked on a business career before
marrying Lady Margaret, daughter of Colonel Nigel Gathorne-Hardy, brother
of the Earl of Cranbrook, in 1939. He was commissioned into the Lovat
Scouts in 1929, serving with them throughout the war, rising to the rank
of major in 1940 and Lieutenant Colonel commanding 4/5th Bn (TA) in 1945.
Lochiel was a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland from 1954-1980,
county councillor for Kilmallie on what was then Inverness County Council,
and served as Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire from 1971-85.
The tall, distinguished chief once recalled in a magazine article how a
visit Down Under brought him closer to some of the more distant Cameron
clansfolk, of which there are some 2,000 in Australia and 1,500 in New
"We went to Brisbane," he said, "where some people
organised a dinner announcing that I was coming. Do you know, 300 people
turned up. Imagine if I went to Glasgow and it was announced that the
Chief of Clan Cameron was coming. Do you think that anybody would turn
A Cameron website reliably informs clansfolk that Glaswegians, among
others, owe a debt of gratitude to one of their Lochiel descendants.
It was "the Gentle Lochiel" of 1745 fame, regarded as one of the
noblest of all Highland chiefs, who - during the Jacobite retreat - saved
the city from being sacked by Prince Charlie's men returning from Derby.
The grateful citizens of the day decreed that when- ever he or his
descendants pass through Glasgow the bells of the Tolbooth should be rung.
Lochiel once recalled: "I have had them rung three times for
Lochiel leaves two sons Donald and Johnny, and two daughters, Anne and
His funeral will be held at the end of next week, with a service at St
Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort William.
Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, KT
from The Daily Telegraph
29 May, 2004
Colonel Sir Donald Cameron
of Lochiel, KT, who died on Wednesday aged 93, was the 26th Chief of Clan
Cameron and heir to one of the proudest lineages in all Scotland.
The Clan Cameron, which
takes its name from the Gaelic cam-shron or "crooked hill", can
trace itself back to medieval times. The first Chief found in historical
records is Domnhuill Dubh - "Black Donald" (the 11th Chief) -
who in 1311 fought as a vassal of the Lord of the Isles at Harlaw.
Thereafter, Camerons distinguished themselves at battles from Bannockburn
to Prestonpans, and none showed more fighting spirit than their leaders.
The 17th Chief, Sir Ewen
Cameron, killed a soldier of the Cromwellian General Monck by tearing out
his throat with his teeth, and it was to Lochiel that Charles Edward
Stuart later looked when he landed in Scotland. Cameron men guarded the
Prince on the night before Culloden, and Lochiel's estates were among the
first to be forfeited after the rising failed; his youngest son was the
last man to be executed as a Jacobite, in 1753, after the Act of
The Chief himself,
however, earned the name "Gentle Lochiel" for having spared
Glasgow when the Stuart army retreated north, and in gratitude the
citizenry decreed that the bells of the Tolbooth should be rung whenever
his descendants passed through the city.
They were rung three times
for Sir Donald who, though a chartered accountant by profession, had also
inherited a goodly measure of his forebears' martial prowess. Having
campaigned through the Second World War with the Lovat Scouts, he later
commanded a territorial battalion of the family regiment, the Cameron
Highlanders, first raised in 1793 and substantially enlarged by his
grandfather in 1914.
His principal concern,
though, was the management of the Cameron estates, which by shrewd
husbandry he increased to 130,000 acres, the largest landholding in
Britain of any commoner. Cameron country is the wooded hills and glens
around Fort William, north-west Scotland, and a prophecy holds that the
Camerons will keep their land as long as there is snow on Ben Nevis.
In earlier times, there
were hot disputes over ownership of the area around Loch Arkaig between
the Camerons and Clan Chattan. In 1396 King Robert II presided over a
melee at Perth between 30 champions of each side, at the end of which the
last Cameron escaped with his life by swimming the River Tay.
Sir Donald had no such
problems with the neighbours, and the four pillars of agriculture,
stalking, forestry and holiday lets kept the estate profitable. Lochiel
was one of very few landowners to have greater holdings than those of his
ancestor a century before.
He was also a most
diligent Chief to his clan members, regularly travelling to gatherings in
countries such as Australia, where more than 2,000 Camerons came to meet
him. Although he thought such large convocations worked better abroad than
in Scotland (where he felt there was less interest in ancestry), he
welcomed any Cameron who called at Achnacarry, his seat at Spean Bridge,
Inverness-shire, which stood beside the castle burned down by the Duke of
Cumberland in 1746.
In 1956 he hosted only the
second great gathering of the clan there since the '45, and in 1989
another to mark his golden wedding. He also converted a former post office
on the estate into the clan museum.
Lochiel was a man whose
considerable charm was matched by his unflagging energy and his high
ideals of service to his clansmen and the people of Scotland. There was no
finer example of a Scottish laird, and in the red of his Cameron kilt he
very much looked the part as well as performing it.
Donald Hamish Cameron, the
elder son of Sir Donald Cameron, 25th Chief and Captain of Clan Cameron,
was born on September 12 1910 at Buchanan Castle, Loch Lomond, the former
home of his mother, Lady Hermione, the second daughter of the 5th Duke of
Montrose. He was not born at Achnacarry as the castle had been let for the
Since 1800 the eldest son
of every Lochiel has always been christened Donald. Both his father and
grandfather had married the daughters of dukes; his father was also the
first Knight of the Thistle not to be either a peer or a baronet.
The Younger Lochiel was
educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford, and came of age in 1931.
To mark this, the tenantry presented him with two gifts for the stalker: a
Rigby telescopic rifle and Ross monocular prism glasses.
In 1929 Cameron had joined
the Lovat Scouts, and although he then trained as an accountant, he kept
up his military skills; and when war came he fought with the regiment,
notably in Italy. By 1945 he was a lieutenant-colonel. He was awarded the
Territorial Decoration in 1944.
He faithfully kept up his
connection with the Army in the years after, and as well as honouring his
links with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (as they became) - serving
as Honorary Colonel of the 4/5th Battalion from 1958 to 1967 - he was also
Honorary Colonel of a territorial battalion of the Queen's Own Highlanders
(the amalgam of the Camerons and Seaforths) from 1967, and of a battalion
of the 51st Highland Volunteers.
He was appointed Colonel
in 1957 and awarded a military OBE in 1954.
His father died in 1951,
and the new Lochiel returned from London to live at Achnacarry which,
during the war, had been used as a commando training centre and had been
badly damaged by fire.
Once back in Scotland, he
was soon offered a good number of part-time jobs in public life. From 1959
to 1964 he was chairman of the Scottish Area of the British Railways
Board. He was also for many years a director of the Save & Prosper
Group, of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and of Scottish Widows, of which he
was chairman from 1964 until 1967.
He was a Crown Estates
Commissioner from 1957 to 1969; president of the Scottish Landowners'
Federation from 1979 to 1984; and Lord Lieutenant of the County of
Inverness from 1971 until 1985.
Lochiel was appointed CVO
in 1970 and a Knight of the Thistle in 1973.
He married, in 1939,
Margaret Gathorne-Hardy, a niece of the 3rd Earl of Cranbrook; they had
two sons and two daughters.
The new Clan Chief is the
eldest son, Donald Angus Cameron, Younger of Lochiel, born in 1946.
Col Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel
by Alasdair Steven
2 June, 2004
Clan chief and businessman
Born: 12 September, 1910, in Buchanan Castle
Died: 26 May, 2004, in Achnacarry, aged 93
He was the head of one of the oldest and proudest families in Scotland. The
Camerons of Lochiel have graced Scottish history with their bravery, service
and strong sense of duty since the middle ages. Donald Cameron upheld that
tradition with energy and style. A tall and ebullient man, he was a fervent
upholder of age-old traditions but was adept at adopting new practices and
habits to broaden the clan and ensure it moved with the times. With the new
museum at Achnacarry and through the internet he ensured it reached throughout
the world from its roots at the foot of Ben Nevis.
A proud wearer of the red Cameron tartan, he welcomed members of the clan with
a cheerful grin and a dram, and cut a dashing and imposing figure in his
Donald Hamish Cameron, the 26th Chief of the Clan Cameron, attended Harrow and
Balliol College, Oxford. He qualified as an accountant in the south but was a
keen member of the Lovat Scouts and when war broke out in 1939 his regiment
served with distinction in North Africa and then fought in the battles to
recapture Italy. Lochiel was demobbed in 1945 with the rank of colonel.
Lochiel worked in the City in the immediate post-war years but in 1951 his
father died and he inherited the estates and Achnacarry the family home near
Spean Bridge. His first concern was to pay the crippling death duties, and
land around Fassifern, Drumsallie and the north shores of Loch Arkaig had to
be sold. The house itself was not in good condition: it had been occupied by
the Commandos (they dubbed it ‘Castle Commando’) during the war and in1943
a fire demolished most of the central part of the castle.
The history of the clan and of Achnacarry is central to that of Scotland.
Achnacarry is Gaelic for ‘field of the fish trap’ and it was from there
that the redoubtable 17th chief went to greet Charles Edward Stuart when he
arrived that fateful morning in July 1745. Cameron gave his prince unstinting
loyalty and was, historians often argue, the one man of real substance in the
prince’s command. After Culloden, Cameron and his prince escaped just down
the coast from Spean Bridge at Loch na Uamh to France.
Lochiel was committed to upholding and enhancing these traditions and he set
in hand plans to modernise the estate. He expanded the agriculture
(concentrating on cattle and sheep) fishing and stalking for red deer and
built cottages that were let to holidaymakers. Those activities and the
forestry planting ensured the estate was on a sound financial footing.
Lochiel also assumed various non-executive posts in leading Scottish companies
where his accountant’s skills proved invaluable. He was on the boards of
Scottish Widows (1955-81), of the Royal Bank (1954-80), Save and Prosper
(1968-85) the Scottish Railways Board (1964-72) and Culter Guard Bridge
(1970-77). He was president of the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of
Scotland on three occasions.
Lochiel also gave his time to various charities (especially the Scottish
Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund), was Lord Lieutenant of Inverness and a county
councillor for Kilmallie. He was made a Knight of the Thistle in 1973 having
been awarded the CVO in 1970.
He also maintained strong connections with the military and was honorary
colonel of the 4/5th battalion of the Queen’s Cameron Highlanders (1958- 69)
and 2nd battalion Highland Volunteers (1970-75).
He worked tirelessly for the clan and was instrumental in founding branches in
North America in 1968 and England in 1981. He greatly enjoyed travelling to
clan gatherings throughout the world and in 1985 travelled to Australia and
New Zealand where, to his amazement (and great pleasure), 300 Camerons
attended a gathering in Brisbane. "Imagine," he joked, "if I
went to Glasgow and it was announced the Chief of the Clan Cameron was here.
Do you think anyone would turn up?"
Lochiel fostered that clan feeling of belonging in a most sensible and
constructive manner: never over-ladling the tartan image. "I do feel as
chief I am a focal point for the clan," he commented in the late
Eighties. "I feel a great sense of responsibility." Well did this
distinguished man discharge that responsibility - always with dignity, charm
and unending courtesy. But he always maintained a sense of humour. That
cunning 17th Lochiel had been named ‘the Gentle Lochiel’ after he saved
Glasgow when the retreating troops from Derby were about to sack it. The
grateful citizens decreed that when the Lochiel was in the city the bells of
the Tolbooth were to be rung. "I have had them rung three times for
me," Lochiel admitted with a broad grin.
Lochiel did much to preserve and develop Cameron country and his devotion to
the clan saw no bounds. There is an ancient prophecy, which has it that the
Camerons of Lochiel will hold their lands as long as there is snow on Ben
Nevis. The corries maintain that tradition.
Lochiel married Margaret Gathorne-Hardy in 1939. She and their two sons and
two daughters survive him and the new clan chief is the eldest son Donald
Angus Cameron, Younger of Lochiel.
Col Sir Donald Cameron
26th Chief of the Clan Cameron
by Tam Dalyell
15 June 2004
Donald Hamish Cameron, landowner and
chartered accountant: born Drymen, Stirlingshire 12 September 1910;
Chairman, Scottish Area Board, British Transport Commission 1959-64;
vice-chairman, Royal Bank of Scotland 1969-80; chairman, Cutler Guard
Bridge Holdings 1970-76; Crown Estate Commissioner 1957-69;
Vice-Lieutenant of the County of Inverness 1963-70, Lord-Lieutenant
1971-85; President, Scottish Landowners' Federation 1979-84; married 1939
Margo Gathorne-Hardy (two sons, two daughters); died Achnacarry,
Inverness-shire 26 May 2004.
In the 1960s, the most prominent Labour
Party activist in the Highlands was Alan Campbell McLean, a good-natured,
witty Englishman, author of prize-winning children's books, who had come
to live in Inverness. But he had one obsession. He honed his invective in
the year that he was chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland against the
supposed dastardly deeds committed in relation to fishing rights for
crofters and local people of the ancient Highland landlords. His most
particular target was "Lochiel". The cry went out, "A
Wilson government will sort out Lochiel."
Now, Lochiel was Colonel Sir Donald
Cameron of Lochiel, 26th Chief of the Clan Cameron, who was held in huge
affection throughout the West Highlands. The result of this ill-conceived
slogan was that Labour got hardly a vote in Fort William and came a
disappointing, indeed abysmal, third place in the Inverness seat that the
party had hoped to win.
I vividly remember accompanying McLean
in Fort William; we went into a sweet shop and, as soon as the owner
realised who McLean was, he was told in no uncertain fashion to get out -
he would sell no chocolate or sweeties to a man who, he had read in the
local paper, had been so rude about Lochiel. Far from a caricature
absentee Highland landlord, Donald Cameron had established himself as an
excellent landlord and a thorough gentleman, against whom those who knew
him would hear nothing bad said.
The Camerons of Lochiel go back into the
mists of time. Legend has it - and legend in this case may well be correct
- that the first identifiable Cameron of Lochiel was Banquo's nephew, the
son of Banquo's sister, and therefore cousin of Fleance, who makes a
fleeting appearance in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Most certainly, history has
it that a Cameron of Lochiel supported Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in
1314. For centuries after that, the Camerons of Lochiel held sway in the
area around Ben Nevis and Loch Lochy.
Alas, in 1745 the Cameron of Lochiel,
out of ill-judged loyalty to Bonnie Prince Charlie, having accompanied him
to Derby and survived Culloden, faced punishment by the Hanoverians.
However, there was a Bill of Attainder and his life was spared on payment
of a huge fine. The 26th Lochiel enjoyed telling his friends that the fine
was put to good purpose by helping to finance the elegant and
distinguished building which now is Register House in Edinburgh.
"But," he said, "my family never recovered from the debt,
until we were paid compensation by Hugh Dalton, the Labour Chancellor of
the Exchequer, for fire on our hillsides during wartime military training,
and damage to our house at Achnacarry at Spean Bridge."
Donald Cameron was told by his father,
Colonel Sir Donald Walter Cameron of Lochiel, 25th Chief of Clan Cameron,
and by his mother, Hermione, daughter of the fifth Duke of Montrose, that
he would have to make his own way in the world without relying on family
money, which was likely to be non-existent.
From an early age, Cameron did indeed
apply himself. At Harrow, as a senior boy, he came under the influence of
the then new headmaster, Sir Cyril Norwood, in 1934 to become President of
St John's College, Oxford, and was inculcated as a senior boy with the
ethic of public service. Years later, he became a shrewd member of the
school's governing body.
From Harrow he went to the Balliol of
A.D. Lindsay. Many years later, Cameron said:
Everybody may think
that I am simply a great toff. Remember I was brought up by Sandy Lindsay,
Harold Hartley, David Murray-Rust, the distinguished physical chemist, and
Oliver Gatty, who were my Natural Science tutors. Remember also that I was
tutored in economics at Balliol by Alexander Rodger.
The influence of his tutor,
Brigadier-General Sir Harold Hartley, was extremely important. Cameron
told me that Hartley and his wife, the daughter of A.L. Smith, a previous
and famous Master of Balliol, gave him the calm confidence which made him
so authoritative a figure in later life. Cameron was too modest to add
that he had a Williams Exhibition from Balliol.
In 1929 he got a commission into the
Territorial Army regiment the Lovat Scouts. By 1940 he had become a major
and trained with them not only in the West Highlands but also in the Faroe
Islands, before landing in Italy. The Lovat Scouts did an excellent job,
given their mountain training, in the Apennines and east of Florence. Only
once did I hear the ever-relaxed Cameron become sharp in conversation and
that was when it was suggested that service in Italy was not quite the
same thing as landing in Normandy and fighting through to the Rhine
In post-war years, Cameron went on to
command TA units including the 4th/5th battalion (TA) of the Queen's Own
Cameron Highlanders, of which he became Honorary Colonel. On the death of
his father in 1951, he decided to return from chartered accountant
business in London and to do what he could to keep together the estate,
which had been plunged into debt by death duties and reduced to 90,000
acres, mostly mountains, lochs and moorland.
In order to keep the Lochiel estates in
order, Cameron acquired a number of jobs which he retained on merit. Peter
Balfour, head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, where Cameron was a director,
and later vice-chairman, says:
Donald had a heap of
good sense. The Royal Bank of Scotland was comparatively small then as to
what it is now as one of the major banks of the world, but he gave us
calm, level-headed advice, in keeping with professional excellence as the
accountant which he was.
Cameron played an important role in the
success of Scottish Widows and Save and Prosper, and he was an effective
Crown Estate Commissioner, 1957-69.
He had an almost boyish passion for
railways and was particularly pleased that in 1944 the LLER named one of
its six new steam locomotives Cameron of Lochiel for service on the
Fort William-Mallaig line. Indeed it was Cameron's railway interest that
played a notable part in the successful venture to restore steam traction
between Fort William and Mallaig, an achievement which was partly due to
his position as a director of the British Transport Commission in 1959.
Above all, Cameron was an outstanding
clan chief. At 6ft 3in in his kilt, proudly wearing a red sett, one of the
four Cameron of Lochiel patterns, he was a kenspeckle figure at many a
clan gathering in Canada, Australia and the United States. He maintained
the family tradition by becoming Lord-Lieutenant for Inverness-shire,
having also served as a county councillor for Kilmallie, in the old
Inverness County Council. I was told in 1963 by the formidable
proprietor/editor of the Inverness local paper, Nora Barron, that Cameron
was about the most effective councillor in her experience of local
He established the Clan Cameron Museum
at Achnacarry in 1990 and also played a major role in setting up the
Commando War Memorial above Spean Bridge.
Although there were numerous articles written on this sad
occasion, the four preserved above represent original, significant
content. Most other articles were extracted from portions of
these four pieces.