Atholl Highlanders

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The Atholl Highlanders
Murray of Atholl.PNG
Cap Badge of the Atholl Highlanders
Active1839 – Present
Country Scotland
RolePersonal bodyguard
SizeOne company
Part ofPrivate army
Garrison/HQ Blair Atholl
Motto(s)Furth Fortune and Fill the Fetters
MarchThe Atholl Highlanders
Lieutenant Colonel The Earl of Kinnoull
Colonel-in-Chief The Duke of Atholl
Tartan Murray of Atholl

The Atholl Highlanders is a Scottish ceremonial infantry regiment. The regiment is not part of the British Army but under the command of the Duke of Atholl, and based in Blair Atholl.

Regiment Military unit

A regiment is a military unit. Their role and size varies markedly, depending on the country and the arm of service.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Duke of Atholl

Duke of Atholl, alternatively Duke of Athole, named after Atholl in Scotland, is a title in the Peerage of Scotland held by the head of Clan Murray. It was created by Queen Anne in 1703 for John Murray, 2nd Marquess of Atholl, with a special remainder to the heir male of his father, the 1st Marquess.



First raising as a regular regiment in the British Army

The regiment was raised in Perthshire by John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl as the 77th Regiment of Foot (or Atholl Highlanders, or Murray's Highlanders) in December 1777. [1] The regiment was formed as a relief for other regiments serving in North America, and spent most of its existence in Ireland. [2] The terms upon which the regiment was raised stated that the men were to be employed for either three years or the duration of the war in America. [2] In 1781, the original three-year term ended, and the men expected the regiment to be disbanded. [2] However, the regiment was transported to England and marched to Portsmouth to be embarked for service in India. [2] Upon learning of this, the men mutinied, and the embarkation orders were countermanded. [2] The regiment was marched to Berwick, where it disbanded in 1783. [2]

Perthshire registration county in central Scotland

Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. It extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl Scottish Duke

John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl, KT, PC, FRS, styled Marquess of Tullibardine from 1764 to 1774, was a Scottish peer.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Second raising as a private regiment of the Duke of Atholl

The full dress of the Atholl Highlanders Atholl Highlanders dress.jpg
The full dress of the Atholl Highlanders

More than 50 years later, in 1839, George Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl, as Lord Glenlyon, formed the regiment [1] as a bodyguard which he took to the Eglinton Tournament at Eglinton Castle, Ayrshire. [3] Three years later, in 1842, the regiment escorted Queen Victoria during her tour of Perthshire and, in 1844, when the Queen stayed as a guest of the Duke at Blair Castle, the regiment mounted the guard for the entire duration of her stay. [4] In recognition of the service that the regiment provided during her two visits, the Queen announced that she would present the Atholl Highlanders with colours, thus giving the regiment official status. [4] The regiment's first stand of colours was presented by Lady Glenlyon on behalf of the Queen in 1845. [4] It received new colours in 1979 from Mrs David Butter, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross. [5] A third stand of colours was presented in 2006 by the Duchess of Atholl. [6]

George Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl British noble

George Augustus Frederick John Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl, was a Scottish peer and freemason.

Eglinton Tournament of 1839

The Eglinton Tournament of 1839 was a re-enactment of a medieval joust and revel held in Scotland on Friday 30 August. It was funded and organized by Archibald, Earl of Eglinton, and took place at Eglinton Castle in Ayrshire. The Queen of Beauty was Georgiana, Duchess of Somerset. Many distinguished visitors took part, including Prince Louis Napoleon, the future Emperor of the French.

Eglinton Castle

Eglinton Castle was a large Gothic castellated mansion in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland.

Under the 7th Duke, the regiment regularly provided guards for royal visitors to Blair Castle (which was a convenient stopping point on the journey to Balmoral). The regiment also attended the Braemar Gathering, while an annual gathering was held in the first week in September in which the regiment paraded, then participated in various trials of strength and stamina. Following the First World War, parades of the regiment became fewer, although it did provide guards when the Crown Prince of Japan and King Faisal of Iraq visited Blair Castle in 1921 and 1933 respectively. [7] After 1933, there was little activity, and it seemed the regiment would disappear into obscurity until, in 1966, it was reformed by Iain Murray, 10th Duke of Atholl, who made the decision to revive the regiment's annual parade. [7]

John Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl Scottish noble

John James Hugh Henry Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl, KT, styled Marquess of Tullibardine between 1846 and 1864, was a Scottish peer.

Balmoral Castle estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Balmoral Castle is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, near the village of Crathie, 6.2 miles (10 km) west of Ballater and 6.8 miles (11 km) east of Braemar.

Hirohito Emperor of Japan from 1926 until 1989

Hirohito was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 25 December 1926, until his death on 7 January 1989. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Akihito. In Japan, reigning emperors are known simply as "the Emperor" and he is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name, Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇). The word Shōwa (昭和) is the name of the era coinciding with the Emperor's reign, after which he is known according to a tradition dating to 1912. The name Hirohito means "abundant benevolence".

2017 inspection of the Atholl Highlanders at Blair Castle Atholl Highlanders inspection 2017-05-27.jpg
2017 inspection of the Atholl Highlanders at Blair Castle

It was feared that the regiment would be disbanded following the 10th Duke's death in 1996, until his successor, John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl, wrote to the estate trustees insisting that he would continue his traditional role. [8] [9] The 11th duke, although resident in South Africa, visited Blair Atholl almost every year to inspect the regiment's annual parade until his death. [8] In 2006 it was decided to increase the strength of the regiment and twelve new members were admitted: all of them were required to achieve a reasonable standard of foot and arms drill. [10] During the Year of Homecoming in 2009, when all of Scotland's clans took part in a parade in Edinburgh, the regiment paraded in the Scottish capital for the first time in nearly thirty years. [11]

John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl Scottish clan chief

John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl was a South African-born hereditary peer of the Peerage of Scotland, hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Murray, and Colonel-in-Chief of the Atholl Highlanders. As Duke of Atholl, he commanded the only legal private army in Europe. He acceded as the 11th duke on February 27, 1996, succeeding his second cousin, once removed, Iain Murray, the 10th duke.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

Homecoming Scotland 2009

Homecoming Scotland 2009 was a series of events designed to attract people of Scottish ancestry to visit Scotland. The campaign, organised by EventScotland and VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, and part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, claimed that "for every single Scot in their native land, there are thought to be at least five more overseas who can claim Scottish ancestry."

Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl inspected the regiment's annual parade in July 2013 and continues to do so. [12]

Bruce George Ronald Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl is a South African-born hereditary peer in the Peerage of Scotland and Chief of Clan Murray. As Duke of Atholl, he has the right to raise Europe's only legal private army, named the Atholl Highlanders.


Known ranks in the regiment:


See also

Related Research Articles

Blair Atholl town in Perthshire, Scotland

Blair Atholl is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, built about the confluence of the Rivers Tilt and Garry in one of the few areas of flat land in the midst of the Grampian Mountains. The Gaelic place-name Blair, from blàr, 'field, plain', refers to this location. Atholl, which mean 'new Ireland', from the archaic Ath Fhodla is the name of the surrounding district.

Blair Castle

Blair Castle stands in its grounds near the village of Blair Atholl in Perthshire in Scotland. It is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, and was historically the seat of their chief, the Duke of Atholl, though the current (12th) Duke, Bruce Murray, lives in South Africa. The castle stands in Glen Garry, and commands a strategic position on the main route through the central Scottish Highlands.

Anne Murray, Duchess of Atholl, born Anne Home-Drummond and known as The Lady Glenlyon between 1839 and 1846, as The Duchess of Atholl between 1846 and 1864 and as The Dowager Duchess of Atholl between 1864 and 1897, was a Scottish courtier and close friend of Queen Victoria.

Lonach Highlanders

The Lonach Highlanders are members of The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, made up of men from the Strathdon area of Aberdeenshire in Scotland. The society was formed in 1823. The principal aims of the Society are the preservation of Highland Dress and the Gaelic language; to support loyal, peaceable manly conduct and the promotion of social and benevolent feelings among the inhabitants of this district. It was further agreed to open a fund for distressed members and their families. Unlike the Atholl Highlanders, the Lonach Highlanders have never been presented with colours, and are not considered a military unit. However they do carry the society colour and two banners ensigned "LONACH".

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Clan Murray noble family

Clan Murray is a Highland Scottish clan. The chief of the Clan Murray holds the title of Duke of Atholl. Their ancestors who established the family in Scotland in the 12th century were the Morays of Bothwell. In the 16th century descendants of the Morays of Bothwell, the Murrays of Tullibardine, secured the chiefship of the clan and were created Earls of Tullibardine in 1606. The first Earl of Tullibardine married the heiress to the Stewart earldom of Atholl and Atholl therefore became a Murray earldom in 1626. The Murray Earl of Atholl was created Marquess of Atholl in 1676 and in 1703 it became a dukedom. The marquess of Tullibardine title has continued as a subsidiary title, being bestowed on elder sons of the chief until they succeed him as Duke of Atholl.

John Murray, 5th Duke of Atholl British noble

John Murray, 5th Duke of Atholl (1778–1846) was a Duke in the Peerage of Scotland, a British Army officer and a major landowner in Scotland. Declared insane at the age of twenty, he never sat in the House of Lords.

Clan Stewart Scottish clan

Clan Stewart is a Highland Scottish clan. The clan is recognised by Court of the Lord Lyon; however, it does not have a clan chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Because the clan has no chief it can be considered an armigerous clan; however, the Earls of Galloway are now considered to be the principal branch of this clan, and the crest and motto of The Earls of Galloway's arms are used in the Clan Stewart crest badge. The Court of the Lord Lyon recognises two other 'Stewart' clans, Clan Stuart of Bute and Clan Stewart of Appin. Clan Stuart of Bute is the only 'Stewart' clan at present which has a recognised chief.

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Scottish Horse

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Lieutenant-General James Murray, 1st Baron Glenlyon, styled as Lord James Murray until 1821, was a British Army officer, Member of Parliament and peer.

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Bridge of Tilt a town in Perth and Kinross, United Kindom

Bridge of Tilt is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, built around the River Tilt, near its confluence with the River Garry. It is located 5.8 miles northwest of Pitlochry. The newer part of the village is continuous with Blair Atholl, only separated by the River Tilt. The village is located primarily on the B8079 between Pitlochry and Dunalastair Water, but the older part of the village is located further up the River Tilt. The A9 runs past the River Garry to the south of Bridge of Tilt, and connects the village with Newtonmore and Inverness in the north and Pitlochry, Perth and Stirling in the south.

Siege of Blair Castle battle between Scottish forces loyal to the British-Hanoverian government and Scottish Jacobite forces loyal to the House of Stuart

The Siege of Blair Castle was a conflict that took place in Scotland in March 1746 and was part of the Jacobite rising of 1745. It was fought between Scottish forces loyal to the British-Hanoverian government of George II of Great Britain, which defended Blair Castle near the village of Blair Atholl in Perthshire, and Scottish Jacobite forces loyal to the House of Stuart.

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Atholl Highlanders [77th Regiment of Foot]: Locations". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  3. "Heraldic shield returns to Blair Castle". Daily Record. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 "Queen Victoria and the fascinating royal story behind the Duke of Atholl's private army revealed". Daily Record. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  5. "Presentation of New Colors to The Atholl Highlanders By Evelyn M.E. Murray, FSA Scot". Clan Murray Newsletter - The Aitionn. 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  6. "Members of the Atholl Highlanders parade at Blair Atholl on 27 May 2006". Getty images. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  7. 1 2 "Atholl Highlanders" (PDF). Atholl Estates Newsletter. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-05. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  8. 1 2 "The Duke of Atholl". The Daily Telegraph . May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  9. Daily Mirror, March 20, 1996
  10. "A year in the life of the Atholl Highlanders" (PDF). Atholl Estates Newsletter. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-09. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  11. "Atholl Highlanders make long-awaited return for The Gathering". Scotland TV. 23 July 2009. Archived from the original on 31 July 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  12. "Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl". Jacaranda FM. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  13. Mosley, Charles (2003). "Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes". Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd.