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Chisholm




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Surname:  Chisholm
Branch:  Chisholm
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  It is said that the name is Norman and is first recorded in the barony of Chieseholme in Roxburghshire. The head of the Chisholm clan is called "The Chisholm". This line survived as Scott-Chisholme, until the end of the 19th century, when the last Border chief, Colonel John Chisholm, was killed in a charge at Elandslaagte in South Africa.

The family moved north from the Borders, and by 1339 Sir Robert de Chisholme was Constable of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. His grandson Thomas, became the first Chisholm chief of the clan, which had the lands of Strathglass and Glen Cannich for the next four centuries.

In 1887, Roderick, the chief, died without an heir and after the estates had passed through the female line, they were eventually sold.

The clan headquarters are at Cnoc-an-Fhurain, Barcaldine, Argyllshire. The current chief of the Chisholm clan lives in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.




Motto:  Feros ferio, I am fierce with the fierce.
Arms:  Gules, a boar's head couped Or, langued Azure.
Crest:  A dexter hand holding a dagger erect Proper, the point therof transfixing a boar's head erased Or.
Supporters:  Two savages wreathed about the head and middle (with laurel) each holding in his exterior hand an oak batten the end resting on the ground Proper.
Badge:  A leaf of fern Proper set in a chapeau Gules furred Ermines.
Plant:  Fern.

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The family was known in the Borders as early as the reign of Alexander III. The name derives from the Norman or French, 'chese', 'to choose' and the Sexon, 'holm', meaning 'meadow'. Their lands were at Chisholm in the parish of Roberton in Roxburghshire. One of the earliest recorded members of this family is John de Chesehelme, who was mentioned in a bull of Pope Alexander IV in 1254. Richard de Chesehelme of Roxburghshire rendered homage to Edward I of England and is listed in the Ragman Roll of 1296. The seal he used shows a boar's head which remains this family's principle device to this day. There is a tradition that two Chisholm brothers saved the life of the king when he was attacked by a ferocious wild boar. It is somewhat fancifully suggested that the armorial supporters granted to the Chisholm chiefs are said to represent the two brothers. By way of reward for the deed the family were granted lands in Inverness-shire, and they achieved prominence in the north when, in 1359, they gained control of an important stronghold. Robert de Chisholme was appointed constable of Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness in succession to his maternal grandfather. He had been knighted by David II and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346. He was later ransomed and lived to become sheriff of Inverness and justiciar of the North. His son, Alexander, married Margaret, heirness to the lands of Erchless, and Erchless Castle was to become the seat of the clan.

THe family remained staunchly Catholic during the early years of the Reformation, and the Chisholms of Cromlix in Perthshire provided three successive Bishops of Dunblane. The third and last of these Chisholm bishops was later to become Bishop of Vaison near Avignon. They were implicated in Catholic intrigues which threatened the stability of the new reformed faith in Scotland. In 1588 it was alleged that William Chisholm, Bishop of Vaison, came in secret to Scotland bearing personal letters from the Pope promising that if the Scottish Crown acknowledged papal authority, the Holy See would ensure that the impending Spanish Armada did no harm to the realm. The news that the Armada had sailed later that year put the Church of Scotland into a state of general alarm and they took steps to neutralize Catholic sympathisers by summoning them before the General Assembly in Edinburgh for questioning. The son of Sir James Chisholm of Cromix was amongst those brought before the Assembly although no charges were brought at that time. Sir James was, however, denounced in 1592 for 'traffiking in sundry treasonable matters against the true Religion' and was excommunicated at St. Andrews in September 1593. During the seventeenth century the clan chiefs became Protestant, but they remained tolerant of the Catholic faith. Roderic Maciain Chisholm was active in the 1715 rising under the Earl of Mar. Chisholm of Crocfin, an aged veteran, led two hundred men of the clan at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The family estates were forfeited to the Crown and sold, but a pardon was granted in 1727 and most of the lands were purchased back from MacKenzie of Allangrange. The Chisholms still adhered to the Jacobite cause, and when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his father's standard in 1745, ROderick, a younger son of the chief, was appointed colonel of a battalion. Of the Chisholms who fought at Culloden, less than fifty survived, and Roderick was among the fallen.

After Culloden, the 'Young Pretender' was obliged to trust his life to seven of his devoted followers, and three of these - Alexander, Donald and Hugh - were Chisholms. They slept in a cave in Glenaffric and scavenged for food. Having conveyed the prince to the coast of Arisaig, Hugh Chisholm shook hands with him and vowed never to shake hands with another man. He lived to a ripe old age and is said to have kept his vow. THe Chisholms were, however, more wary that they had been in the 1715 rising, and both the chief and two of his other sons did not openly support the Stuart case. The Chisholms lands were accordingly preserved.

In the mid eighteenth century Ruairidh, the twenty-second chief, tried to raise money by increasing his tenants' rents, precipitating the mass emigration from the Chisholm lands to the New Worlds overseas. Alexander, the twenty-third chief, attempted to reverse this decline, but he died in 1793 leaving an only daughter, Mary, and the chiefship devolved upon his half-brother William. He made over most of the family land to sheep grazing and the emigration continued.

In 1887 the chiefship passed through an heiress to James Gooden-Chisholm of Surrey. However, his descendents have since abandoned their English name, and once more The Chisholm takes his place in the Council of Chiefs.

Name Variations:  Chesolme, Cheishame, Chesom, Cheisholme, Chesome, Chesehelme, Chessam, Cheseim, Chessame, Cheshelme, Chesseholme, Chesholme, Chisholm, Chesim, Chisholme, Cheishelm, Chism, Cheseholm, Chisolm, Chesholm, Chesolm, Chesame, Cheshelm, Cheshom, Chisolme, Chisomme, Chissem, Chissim, Chissolme, Sheshelm, Schisolme, Schisholme, Schishome, Shisholme, Schisome.

References:
One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.
Electric Scotland: http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/atoc/chishol2.html


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