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Articles on the Passing of
Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel, XXVI Chief of Clan Cameron

Clan 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 Zealand.

"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 up?"

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 me!"

Lochiel leaves two sons Donald and Johnny, and two daughters, Anne and Caroline.

His funeral will be held at the end of next week, with a service at St Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort William.

Colonel 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 Indemnity.

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 grouse season.

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 Highland regalia.

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 of Lochiel
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 crossing.

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 affairs.

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.

Editor's Notes:  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.