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The Gaelic word "Ros" means a "headland" and is often used as part of place names in Gaelic Countries (Scotland and Ireland). The Ross clan crest is a hand holding a laurel wreath, and the Ross' noble motto is Spem succussus alit - "Success nourishes hope", which nowadays we would call "Success breeds success".  Scottish highlanders have long been renowned for their fierce fighting spirit their proven highland blood.

There was an ancient earldom of Ross in the north-east of Scotland, in what is now the Highlands, between the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths, north of Inverness. The clan was sometimes referred to as Clan Anrias or Gille Andras/Gillanders.  The old Earls of Ross, who were said to have descended from Gillianrias, the son of the hereditary abbot at the monastery of Applecross.

Clan Ross takes its name from the Clan's lands in the Highlands. Originally known to the Highlanders as Clann Grille Aindreas, "the sons of Andrew", patron saint of Scotland.  The Clan has a bloodline dating back to the original Celtic people. Their origins are closely tied with the old Celtic church, the Clan descending from an ecclesiastical family who held an hereditary priesthood.  The founder of the Clan Ross was Fearchar Mac-an-T-Saigart (Farquhar, the Son of the Priest), Abbot of Applecross in Wester Ross, who inherited the abbacy early in the 13th century. 

In 1214, when Alexander II led an army to the north to repress a rebellion by Donald Bane, who was claiming the throne, Clan Ross assisted the King and was rewarded with the title Earl of Ross.  Fearchar's loyalty to King Alexander II was rewarded in 1215 when he received a knighthood, and in 1226 he was created Earl of Ross.

The Ross clan was prominent in the Scottish affairs and supported an alliance with Llewellyn, the Welsh Prince, against the English.  They fought at the Battle of Largs against the Vikings in 1263 and spoke in Parliament in 1283 to support settling the succession of the throne on the infant Princess Margaret, the Maid of Norway.

The clan and their chief, William, served with distinction in the Wars of Independence against the English. There is a great write-up of the Ross clan and the family at the My Clan website.)  Their chief was captured at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296 and was taken as a prisoner. He was released but was captured again while protecting Robert the Bruce's wife and daughter at the shrine of St Duthac in Tain.  Following in the tradition of Fearchar's early support for the Crown of Scotland, his grandson, William, the 3rd Chief and Earl, supported the great King Robert the Bruce by leading the Clan Ross against the English at the glorious Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The clan fought bravely at Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and the earl's seal is one of those on the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. 

Hugh, the 5th Chief and Earl married a sister of Robert the Bruce and fell at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.  His son, William, died without male heir in 1372 and so the Earldom passed through the female side into the Clan Leslie. The chieftainship was granted to William's brother, Hugh Ross of Rariches, who was granted a charter to the lands of Balnagowan in 1374. Not all Ross’s totally supported the Crown.

The earldom was forfeited when the Lord of the Isles was defeated in 1476 but the surname survived and the chieftainship devolved to the Rosses of Balnagowan near Tain.  After a long struggle with the neighboring clan MacKays, the clan Ross was defeated at a battle at Strathcarron by the Mackays in 1486 and never recovered. Despite this, Ross is still one of the five most frequent names in the northern Highlands and the 16th most frequently registered in 1995.

The 12th chief led 1,000 of his clansmen against Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. However, many killed or captured and transported to the colonies in America.

For over three centuries the chiefship rested with the Ross’s of Balnagowan, until the death of the 13th Chief of the Clan, David Ross of Balnagowan, in 1711. The chiefship then passed to another Ross family, and the Chief became the Hon. Charles Ross, son of Lord Ross of Hawkhead in Renfrewshire.  A Norman family called de Ros settled in south-west in the 11th century and some of their descendants also became known as "Rose".  At one time they managed to convince the Lord Lyon that they were the chieftains of the clan Ross but this was overturned in 1903 and David Ross of Ross and Shandwick is the current chief.

The chiefship was awarded to the family of Ross of Pitcalnie, heir of the line of David, last of the old family of Balnagowan.  For more information about the Ross heritage see  The Corbet, Dingwall, Duthie, Fair, Gillanders, Haggart, McLulich, MacTaggart, MacTear, MacTire, Taggart, Train, Vass and Wass families are all regarded as septs (sub-branches) of the powerful Clan Ross.

See the Clan Ross - USA or the Clan Ross - Canada for more information on the international clans sanctioned by the current chieftain.  Much of the information here was taken from the website at

The Ross clan has spread from throughout the world.  The Celtic Ross families go back to at least 150AD.  See the website describing the development of the Ross-on-Wye in Roman.


The Rose connection:  John Robert Ross's book "The Great Clan Ross" published in limited edition in 1972 lists the Kilravock estate as formerly being owned by a Ross family until about 1688. The passage reads:

"Hugh Ross (Rose) fourteenth Laird of Kilravock and Rosshill had a delayed infeftment in 1672. He married a daughter of James Lord Ross and Dame Margaret Scot, and the history of this family of Rosses ends abruptly with Hugh's death in 1688. In 1672 there was a change in entail and a change of name and the records indicate that the family of Rose of Kilravock became the proprietors of these estates." (p 148)

The Great Clan Ross Cover

The Great Clan Ross Page 1

The Great Clan Ross Page 2

The Great Clan Ross Page 3

Here is another place where this Ross spelling is declared:,M1

The entail is highly likely to have a strong Ross/Rose family connection and probably was a Ross who took the Rose spelling and changed historical references to Rose.  One list of Rose Lairds can be found at

Info on Rose (Kilravock) Castle is on the Rose clan website: where it states the castle was erected in 1460 by Kilravock VII under charter by John, Lord of the Isles and Earl of . 

The most widely accepted account of the Roses is in the book "A Genealogical Deduction of the Family of Rose of Kilravock with Illustrative Documents from the Family Papers and Notes Rose, Hugh” by Cosmo Innes,M1.


Colonel George Ross, a descendant of Hugh, the 9th Chief of Clan Ross, was an officer in the American Patriot Army which fought the British in the War of Independence. His signature appears on the American Declaration of Independence.

Betsy Ross (married to another John Ross) made the first example of the present flag at the request of George Washington.

John Ross and nephew James Clark Ross were knighted for their polar expeditions.

Another of the many of the Clan to rise to prominence in the was John Ross, who was born in 1790 of a Scottish father and part Cherokee mother. Fair haired and blue eyed, John Ross to be principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and vigorously opposed the westward migrations onto Cherokee lands. During the Creek war he led the Cherokees against the Creeks, - who were led by their Chief, William MacKintosh, also of Scottish descent.

Charles “Charley” Brewster Ross, was the 1st kidnap for ransom victims in the in 1874.  It was the most famous such case in the country until the Lindbergh baby.  The Charles Ross case was never solved.  We are looking for a documented descendant from this line.  Charles had 3 brothers who had many descendants.   You can read more at   We are trying to prove or disprove the claims of one family who claims to descend from Charley.  The story is documented in the following article: 

The footnotes for the article are at:  

A great description of the Scots-Irish migration to America can by found in "Born Fighting, How the Scots-Irish Shaped America" by James Webb:

    "The Scots-Irish Presbyterians began trickling out of Ulster soon after the 1704 Test Acts came into force [in Ireland].  In the next two decades a rather small assortment of families, typically traveling in "parcels of 600 to 800 people, ventured across the Atlantic to test America's promise as well as its receptivity to their religion and their cultural ways [...] In this first experimental wave of emigration the Ulster emigrants scattered their arrivals amount the major ports of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Annapolis, and Charleston, South Carolina.
    But by the early 1720's, when the large-scale migrations from Norther Ireland began, the port of choice had become .  Over the next five decades the overwhelming majority of Scots-Irish settlers entered the American colonies through either Philadelphia or the nearby cities of Chester, Pennsylvania, and New Castle, Delaware, which were just south of Philadelphia along the Delaware River.  From these locations the Scots-Irish settlers first spread westward into the vicinity or , , and then later followed the mountain roads southward into Virginia, North and , and points beyond.
    From the early 1720s to the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775, there were four great surges of Scots-Irish migration.  Each was brought about not only by events in , but also by a series of incidents and incentives in different American colonies that affected both the pace of their migration and the locations they chose for settlement.  The first large migration, from 1720 to about 1730, brought them heavily to .  The second, concentrated in the years 1740 and 1741, drew them to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and brought with them many of those who had already settled in .  The third, beginning in the mid-1750's, saw a heavy influx farther down the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains into southwest Virginia and then into North and South Carolina.  This influx included many Scottish highlanders - although they generally arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina, rather than in Philadelphia and settled in the Piedmont rather than in the mountains - as well as Scottish and English borderers, these three groups having been uprooted by political events that followed the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  The final surge, in the years just before the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 saw large numbers of new settlers from move into the communities that had already been established, especially in the southwest and the .
    became the Ulster Scots' most popular port of entry for two reasons.  The first was that the colony had been created with an eye toward accommodating religious freedom and thus largely welcomed the dissenters, at least initially.  And the second - equally as important- was that the communities in New England and wanted nothing to do with them.
    The Ulster Presbyterians who migrated to in the early 1700s had believed that the Puritan communities would embrace them as fellow Calvinists, but "the Puritans liked neither Scots nor Irish[...] they were shortly informed that citizenship would not be granted in any Puritan colony except by membership in the established church, which was Congregational."  As a result, most of the Scots-Irish moved off to the frontiers [...]  Feelings against them grew so strong that in 1729 a mob arose to attempt to prevent the landing of one of the ships arriving from Ulster.  "Wherever the Scotch-Irish went into it was made abundantly clear to them that they were unwelcome."
    Early migrations to and were even smaller than those that went to , with much the same consequences.  There was "nothing to attract them to .  Its land policy was not generous, its country regions along the Hudson were taken up in great estates, and no special effort had been attract colonists from Northern Ireland...only three small colonies of Scotch-Irish settle in New York throughout the eighteenth century."

He later says the Scots-Irish were lured to as people to protect the pacifist Quakers against marauding Indians and into the borderland to as a frontier line against encroaching Maryland Catholics. 



The Ross Family DNA project seeks to include data from the various Ross DNA projects and incorporate their data.  Family Tree DNA’s (FTDNA) laboratory is recommended.  It is affiliated with Dr. Michael Hammer and the and tests the Y-chromosome for genetic matches between males. Results are placed in FTDNA's Y-DNA database and when 2 people show matching results, the lab will inform both parties (provided both signed the FTDNA Release Form).   Please visit the FTDNA website for more information and an explanation of Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

Other projects use other labs, but the results cannot be loaded into the FTDNA database.  By ordering through FTDNA you receive project group rates, which are less expensive than standard rates.  The following Y-chromosome DNA tests are available.  Please see the FTDNA website for availability of other types of DNA testing.

BigY700 tests are recommended with a corresponding autosomal (FF) test. See info on Haplogroups.

By ordering the kit through our project you are agreeing to have your results incorporated with other tests and displayed on this site.

Click here, to order a DNA Sample Kit, or email one of the administrators for assistance.   Please note, that when you order your sample kit online you may string other email addresses in the email contact information.  Separate them by a semicolon.  For example:; may include anyone you wish, such as anyone who took part in paying for your test. 

When you receive the test, you will find a release form.  Please complete it and return it with your sample.  This will make your results (numbers only, no personal information) accessible in online searches of the FTDNA database and will enable FTDNA to notify you of future matches.  However, it does not make your information available to other surname projects or Ysearch.

We strongly encourage all participants to make their results public in the FTDNA database and in YSearch (for Ydna tests) and MitoSearch (for mtDNA tests).  (Information at this link was gratefully obtained from Phillip Hawkins on his excellent Hawkins surname project.

Lastly, if you would email your family tree to us, minus living people, we would really appreciate it, so we can add it to this site.  If you have your data on a website you may send the address for that.  Please let us know if you would be willing to be a coordinator for your specific Ross line.  If you do we post your name and email address as a contact for anyone wishing to get more information or to find other people in the tree.  The time commitment should be small.

For more information, contact the project co-administrators above.


On Jul 2012, National Genographic Project and FTDNA announce Geno 2.0 SNP test package, which will effectively replace the FTDNA deep clade test package for YDNA Haplogroups. This product is processed by FtDNA but is currently purchased via NatGeo here:

Using an exclusive, custom-built genotyping chip, NatGeo tests nearly 150,000 DNA markers that have been specifically selected to provide unprecedented ancestry-related information including Haplogroup terminal SNP.

A fellow researcher sent the following page that contains a list of good resources for genealogists.  If you have a good website for that we should list here, let me know.  


Useful list of records available in PRONI in Belfast is the best source ror Ulster Records. Their website is

Useful source of free records at the following site!