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The Chatelaine's Scottish Castles

Caddell, Calder and Cawdor:
the family name in Scotland

Cawdor Castle photo
Cawdor Castle by The Internet Guide to Scotland

The following article is reproduced by kind permission of the author
Bill Caddell -

The information and data reported in this history were compiled by him from many sources (see below).

At the dawning of civilization in the country of Scotland, the Caddell or CALDER family emerged in historical writings. CALDER is a local surname, CALE signifies wood and DOR represents water, so CALDER is a woods between waters. Such is the case near the Castle of CALDER in Nairnshire. The name CAWDOR is an early phonetic spelling of CALDER as pronounced in the lowlands and northeast coast of Scotland. Encyclopedia Britannica lists CALDER as a very ancient Morayshire, Scotland family.

The current Nairnshire and Morayshire are situated just east of Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Morayshire included Nairnshire and covered an area extending around the Moray Firth from Ross to Buchan and southwest to Atholl and Lochaber. Moray was a very ancient Pictish Kingdom, one of the seven Celtic earldoms, which was originally separate from the Kingdom of Scotland. Moray was ruled by its own line of Celtic Earls. In 1130, according to the Gaelic Chronicles, "a battle was fought between the men of Scotland and the men of Moray; and in it four thousand men of Moray fell, including their King Angus (Earl of Moray), the great grandson of King Macbeth by Lulach's daughter." Their lands were thus forfeited to the Crown.

At the time, the Kingdom of Scotland was ruled by King David (1124 - 1153 AD), and had been previously ruled by - his brother King Alexander (1107 - 1124 AD), King Edgar (1098 - 1107 AD), King Donald Ban (1093 - 1098) AD), King Malcolm III (1057 - 1093 AD), King Macbeth (1039 - 1057), and King Duncan (1033 - 1039 AD). King David created Angus' younger brother as the Earl of Ross.

The Moray men were known as "The Freemen of Moray." They lived under direct rule of the King. They held land on condition of giving the King military aid when needed. They were, in fact, a company of the King's men who owed no loyalty to a feudal superior. They were responsible for garrisoning the Royal castles. Their lands were called "Castle lands."

To possibly eliminate further trouble, many of the prominent leaders of Morayshire were "transplanted" being replaced by loyal Anglo-Normans. In 1153 AD the Celts of Moray again rose up against the Scottish Crown. By 1156 their uprising was quelled and further dependable newcomers settled in Moray. In 1163 King Malcolm IV defeated the men of Moray and Moray was soon absorbed by the Kingdom of Scotland. Malcolm drove out the troublemakers (of the men of Moray). Many of those driven out took refuge in the south and west, while others moved northwards into what is now Caithness and Sutherland, still under Norse rule.

The lands of CAWDOR were granted by Charter to the family in 1104 (King Edgar), 1112 (King Alexander I), 1236 (King Alexander II), and 1310 (King Robert The Bruce). Therefore, it appears that they stayed in good graces with the Crown and kept their lands, at least those of the main branch. There is a silence in the Chronicles between 1236 and 1310 concerning the family. This time period was generally under the rule of Alexander III (r. 1249-1285), the last of the Celtic Kings of Scotland. He was the last to be crowned on the hallowed "Stone of Destiny," soon to be removed to England by Edward I, where the famed "stone" remained until returned by Queen Elizabeth in 1997.

This "silence" could have been due to Scotland's being in a state of turmoil and its constant warring with England. Alexander III died without heirs and left Scotland with no King between 1285 and 1314, not under English domination, when King Robert The Bruce defeated the English at Bannockburn. The English King Edward I "Longshank" (r. 1272-1307) made it his lifelong ambition to rule Scotland, which he did from 1298 (Battle of Falkirk) until he died in 1307 and his son Edward II was defeated at Bannockburn in 1314. Scotland remained free of English control until the battle of Culloden in 1746. Since that time Scotland has been under English control and government.

According to Cosmo Innes, CADDELL and variations of the spelling are synonymous with the name CALDER. A surname supposed to be originally Welsh but has been found to be of French origin.

In his "Scottish Nations", William Anderson identified "CALDER, an ancient surname assumed from the lands of CALDER, now CAWDOR, in Nairnshire, but derived originally," according to Anderson, "from the French Knight Hugo deCADELLA, from which the name of CADELL takes its rise." The Hall of Names International listed Caddell as a ancient family in Banffshire, possibly even before the Norman Invasion.

The use of Surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000. Such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans during the next 50 years, and then only occasionally used until they became commonly used in the mid-twelfth century. According to William Stewart in a general council at Forfar, Scotland in 1061 AD during the reign of King Malcolm Ceannmor (Canmore), he directed his chief subjects to adopt the use of Surnames from their territorial possessions after the custom of other nations. Thus were created "The first erlis that euir was in Scotland," and

"Mony surename also les and moir,
Wes maid that tyme quhilk wes nocht of befoir.
As CALDER, Lokart, Gordoun, and Setoun,...."

According to Hume of Godscroft, in his writings, King Malcolm III, in 1060 AD, created a Baronage for Hugo deCADELLA of Nairn. Hugo deCADELLA apparently settled in Scotland during the Norman invasion, since no records show the name prior to 1060. It is reported that he was a French Knight. It is also know that during the period, many Norman Knights acquired vast estates in Scotland through intermarriage with Celtic heiresses. The Normans were already part Celtic and readily fitted in with the Scottish Celts.

Macbeth (1039 - 1057), last of the Celtic Kings, usurped power in Scotland when he assassinated his cousin, King Duncan I. Macbeath, cut off the Thane of CALDER and others from their lands for not submitting to his tyranny. CALDER also known as the Thane of Nairn was likewise sheriff of that county. Macbeath was slain by MacDuff, Thane of Fife, and Duncan's son, Malcolm III (Cean-More or Canmore) succeeded the throne and restored the lands that had been taken by Macbeath.

CAWDOR represents the old Lowland pronunciation of northern CALDER. It has been suggested that the displacement of CALDER by the false form of CAWDOR was due, at least in part, to William Shakespeare, who in "Macbeth" adopted the Lowland form of the name.

In Sheriff Macphail's "Highland Papers" concerning the murder of John Campbell of CAWDOR in 1591, was listed from the original text "...the now deceased John Campbell of CADDELL (CAWDOR)...."

The original patrimony of the Thanes of CALDER (later identified as CAWDOR) appears to have been limited to the fertile valley lying between Brackla and Barevan in the Highlands of Scotland, currently on the CAWDOR Castle estate. Additions were the lands of Highland Boath, Banchor, Dunmaglass, Moy near Forres, Little Urchany, and Urchanybeg. As early as the 1300s the family owned considerable lands around Inverness.

The population of Scotland was very sparse. The inhabitants of the country were mostly in the areas of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The majority were Celts, mainly north of the Forth and Clyde and in the southwest. There were Norseman (Vikings) in Caithness, Sutherland and the Western Isles, Anglo-Saxons in Lothian; and along the east coast in the port cities (colonies of foreign merchants) of Inverness, Elgin, Aberdeen, Perth, Montrose, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Berwick.

The country was wilder, having vast forests of the native Scottish pine in abundance which were dark and impenetrable, where wolves and wild boars roamed and wide wastes of moor and bog, mountain and water covered much of the land. Transport was mostly by pack horse along tracks which were sometimes impassable in winter.

The Feudal system was introduced into the Celtic kingdom of Scotland by David I on assuming his throne in 1124. For the next 600 years, the Feudal system was in constant conflict with the Clan system that had been developing in the Highlands. Under the Feudal system all land belonged to the King. He governed by leasing large provinces to his leading noblemen in return for their loyalty and, in time of war, armed knights to defend the Crown. These lands were further subdivided to smaller estates leased to knights and gentlemen for the same security and loyalty. These estates were further leased to others with husbandmen and serfs to tend the land and serve their masters and in times of war with shield and spear. The great Celtic landowners, who had previously held their land by tribal custom, had their possessions and privileges confirmed by charters from the Crown. There was orderly transitions - no landlords were deposed and land grants were from estates where native families had died out as well as other estates confiscated by the Crown.

The central government was provided through agents of the King - chamberlain, justiciar, and sheriffs. The sheriffs, some 30 in number, were the Kings Royal agents in the local districts into which the kingdom was divided. They were the sinews of the administration, presiding over courts for free men to use, collecting and accounting for royal revenues, and supervising the Royal castles in their sheriffdoms. They were appointed by the King and usually were earls and barons who were already prominent landowners in their areas.

The early generations of CALDER were sheriffs of the Shire and constables and keepers of the Royal castle at Nairn. In 1720 Lachlan Shaw (the historian of Moray), described "The Thanes of CAWDOR, as constables of the King's house, resided in the castle of Nairn, and had a country seat at what is now called ‘Old CAWDOR', a half-mile north from the present seat," the current CAWDOR castle. The family had considerable wealth and influence, having at a very early date large tracts of land in and around Nairn, including Balmakeith, Millbank, Dunmaglas, the Gallowslands, the Skateraw, Auchindoune and Barevan. During the late 15th century the family estate was one of the most valuable and extensive in the north of Scotland. In about 1437 under the rule of King James II, the younger male family members appear to have sought public service in the south of Scotland.

Various spellings of the name have been found during the period: Cadella (1000s and 1100s), KALEDOR (1295), KALEDOUER, KAUDER, CALDOR (1345), CAUDOR (1400s), CAULDER, CAWDOR, CALDER, CALDELL, CATTELL, Caddell and variations of these spellings. Others included Cadel, Cadell, Caddel, Cadwell, Caudel, Caudell, Caudill, Codel, Coddel, Coddell, Codell, Cudal, Cudel, Cudell, Cuddel, Cudell, Cudil, Cudill and Cudul.

CADDELL/CADDEL (CADELL, CALDER,CATTELL), is listed in the official Clan Registry in Scotland as a sept of the Clan Campbell of CAWDOR. The name is said to be a form of CALDER. Cosmo Innes stated in his book "Concerning Some Scottish Surnames" the "northern CALDERs and CAWDORs were distinguished as CADELL and deCADELLA even in the old Scots Chronicles and the variety CADDELL was kept permanently in the south."

CALDER, CALDELL and CADDELL have ancient connections to Caithness. CALDER and CADDELL, Caithness surnames are from CALDER or CAWDOR. CALDER in Caithness "in its older form of CALDELL (a sharpened form of CADDEL) and CADDELL, is of considerable antiquity. In the 17th century CALDELL was one of the most frequent seen names in Caithness. Some of the finest Highland pistols ever made bore the name CADDELL - made in the workshops of a family dynasty of CADDELL's in Doune, Perthshire, Scotland. The name appeared in Kilmadock parish in the 17th century and was common in Edinburgh in the 16th century. The name CADDER/KEDDER also appears to be, during the 16th century, from the village of CADDER, CADDER parish, Lanarkshire.

In addition to Cawdor Castle, the Calders built Asloune Castle sometime during the 1500's. Little remains of the Z-plan tower house except one tower. Its ruins are located about two miles south and west of Alford, SCT on a minor road west of A980 and just north of Strow Burn. In 1440 the Calders acquired Aswanley House from the Gordons, a long low L-plan building of two stories and a garret with a round stair-tower projecting from the main block and enclosed by a courtyard. It is located about seven miles west of Huntly, on a minor road south of A920, near the River Deveron 1.5 miles east of Haus of Glass, Mains of Aswanley.

Records of the Library, Inverness, Scotland and Anderson's "Scottish Nations" showed the following succession:

1. HUGH - Hugh de CADELLA (KALEDOUER) - 1058 AD
gave valuable service to King Malcolm (III) Canmore/Ceanmore III, in whose restoration he was very instrumental, and was liberally awarded by the monarch, including being granted the Nairnshire thaneship of CAWDOR. In 1060 AD HUGH was created Baron by the King.

2. GILBERT - Gilbertus de CADELLA
Son of Hugh, in 1104 AD, De CADELLA obtained from King Edgar a grant of the lands of CAWDOR, etc., in the county of Nairn.

Son of Gilbert, discovered a conspiracy of the Macdonalds, Murrays, and Cummings, to assassinate King Alexander I (1107 - 1124 AD) at Bell-Edgar in his expedition to the north, for which good service, that monarch on his return, in 1112 confirmed to him the thanedom of CAWDOR.

4. Through 6.
For three generations nothing more appears on record concerning the family CAWDOR or CADELLA. In 1230 a Helen de Cadella married Shaw MacIntosh of MackIntosh. However, according to Lauchlan Shaw, the CAWDOR charter chest included a writ dated 1236 AD for the lands of Boath and Banchor. According to Martin Coventry, in 1236 the thane of CAWDOR took the name of CALDER when he was granted the lands by Alexander II.

7. DONALD CALDER - 1st recorded Thane of CAWDOR:
1295 was one at the inquest on the extent for valuation of Lands of Kilravock and Easter Geddes, in the parish of Nairn, the property of his neighbor, Hugh Rose of Kilravock, on the feast of Saint Lawrence.

8. WILLIAM CALDER - 2nd Thane of CAWDOR:
A supposed son of Donald, in 1310 received a charter of thanage from King Robert I, the Bruce.

  • A daughter Helen married SHAW MACKINTOSH.
  • According to Anderson's "Scottish Nation" during the 1300's, a Thomas, a valiant knight, reportedly the thane of CALDER, was killed fighting on the side of the Cumyn faction against the regent, Andrew de Moravia, with Robert Cumyn and William Cumyn being slain at the same time.

9. WILLIAM CALDER - 3rd Thane of CAWDOR:
1350 - started building the tower of CAWDOR Castle in about 1372, and was succeeded by his son Andrew.

10. ANDREW CALDER - 4th Thane of CAWDOR:
Died in 1405, murdered by Sir Alexander Gervaise de Raite (Rathe) at the water dam of Raite. Andrew inherited the Sheriffship and Constabulary of Nairn and half of Dunmaglass. The lands of Raite were seized by the Crown and given to the Thane of CALDER's heir, in consideration of his father's murder. Upon his death, his son Donald inherited the Thanage.

11. DONALD CALDER - 5th Thane of CAWDOR:
Died in 1442, was appointed on 15 November 1406, to the office of Sheriff and constable of Nairn. He purchased the lands of Dunmaglass in Strath Nairn from William Nairn Of Balquhonzie and was infeft therein 20th June 1414. In 1419 he purchased the lands of Moy near Forres in Moray from the Earl of Ross and likewise, in 1421, bought from Henry, Bishop of Moray the lands of Urchany Beg within the Barony of Fothryves and parish of CALDER.

  • Tradition mentions a son, Hutcheon or Hugh CALDER, who in 1452 attended Alexander, earl of Huntly, the King's Lieutenant, in his expedition against the earls of Crawford of Finhaven and Douglas, then in rebellion, and Huntly having routed the forces of these two earls at the battle of Brechin. Hutcheon, too eager in the pursuit, was taken prisoner by the enemy, and brought to Finhaven, whither Crawford had retired. Being alarmed while at supper with the news of Huntly's approach, he fled with such precipitation that Hutcheon and several other prisoners made their escape. Hutcheon carried off the silver cup out of which Crawford drank, and presented it to Huntly at Brechin as a sure evidence of Crawford's flight, for which service (according to the History of the family of Gordon), Huntly, upon his return home, gave him the lands of Asswanly, county of Banff, and George Duke of Gordon gave to his successor a massive silver cup gilded, whereon the history of the transaction was engraved.

From Hutcheon was supposed to have descended the family of CALDER, baronet of Muirtoune. However, in a note appended by the late Admiral Sir Robert CALDER, baronet, to a copy of "Nisbet's Heraldry" in the Advocates' library, the appendix to which contains an account of the family of CALDER, it is stated that "the CALDERs of Asswanly were not descended from Hutcheon, son of Donald thane of CALDER, nor has the grant of the lands of Asswanly any reference to the battle of Brechin, which was fought on the 18th May 1452, twelve years after the date of the grant of these lands of Asswanly, as appears by a charter of confirmation from the King, dated in Edinburgh 8th July 1450, of the grant of the lands of Asswanly, by Sir Alexander Setoune to Hugh CALDER, son and heir of Alexander CALDER, and his spouse Elizabeth Gordonne, dated at Elgin, the last day of August 1440." The note is dated Edinburgh, 29th September 1802, and the original charter was stated to be in possession of the said Rear-admiral Sir Robert CALDER.

  • His second son, Robert, founded the family at Muirtoune in Moray, Scotland and infeft of the land of Aswanly, County of Banff, in 1440. Robert had two sons; the younger James CALDER, settled at Elgin, and had a son who appears to have been in business there from 1607 to 1636. His son, Thomas CALDER, purchased in 1639 the lands of Sheriffiniln, near Elgin. He was provost of Elgin in 1665, and in 1669 completed the building of the family mansion there. His eldest son, Sir James CALDER, laird of Muirtoune, was created a baronet of Scotland and Nova Scotia, knighted 5 November 1686. By his wife, Grizzel, daughter of Sir Robert Innes, Baronet, of Innes, he had a son, Sir Thomas, the second baronet, and several other children. His grandson, Sir James CALDER, the third baronet, married Alice, daughter of Admiral Robert Hughes, by whom he had two sons, and a daughter, the latter married Admiral Roddam of Roddam, county of Northumberland. He was succeeded by his elder son, Sir Henry CALDER, a major-general in the army, whose son, Sir Henry Roddam CALDER, was the fifth baronet. Sir Robert CALDER (b. 2 Jul 1745, Elgin, Scotland), the second son of Sir Thomas CALDER of Muirton, and uncle of the latter, was a distinguished admiral.
  • A daughter m. JOHN HAY of LOCKLOY.
  • A son, Alexander went, with several other Scots gentlemen, to assist Charles VII, of France against the English, and from him is descended the family of De la Chapagna in Toulouse.

12. WILLIAM CALDER - 6th Thane of CAWDOR:
Son of Donald, succeeded in 1442 and d. 1468. William under the name of William de CALDER, was a witness in a charter of confirmation granted by Alexander earl of Ross to Sir Walter Innes, of the lands of Aberkerder, dated 22d February 1438. A precept dated 17 August 1442, by Alexander de Yle, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles infefted William de Calder the thanage of CALDER, Offices of sheriff and constable of Nairn, including lands in Beath, Banchar and the half of Raite and Milk. In 1450 he went with William earl of Douglas, to the Jubilee at Rome. On 6 August 1454, a Royal license was granted to Thane William by letters from King James to fortify the current CAWDOR castle "with walls, moats, and iron portcullis, to furnish it with turrets and other defensive armaments and apparatus, and to appoint constables, janitors and jailors to his castle, providing always that the King and his successors shall have free ingress and egress to and from the castle."

When King James II came to the north, he took up residence at Darnaway castle and summoned Thane William to his side. Thane William was designated in a Charter, as "his beloved familiar squire (dilectus familiaris scutifer)," by King James II. Apparently when a youth, Thane William was an attendant at the court of King James II. In 1456, he appointed Thane William his joint Crown Chamberlain (Commissioner) north of the Spey Valley along with Thomas Carmichael, canon of Moray, Elgin Cathedral. This duty required him to administer the lands and revenue of the Earldom of Moray, the Crawford estates in Strathnairn, and the Petty and Ormond possessions, was over the sheriffdom of Elgin, Fores, Nairn, and Inverness, and the maintenance and upkeep of all the King's castles in the area. In 1467 Thane William attended parliament as proxy of the earl of Ross.

  • A son William, heir to Thaneship, is mentioned among the barons present in parliament in 1469 and 1471, and in 1469 he served upon the assize which convicted Alexander Boyd of high treason. The thanedom and other lands belonging to William were erected into a free barony in his favor in the year 1476 and declared to lie within the shire of Nairn, although they are situated in different shires.
  • A son John became Rector of Duthil and later Precentor and Chantor of Ross. He was a leading Person in the district. John was a churchman but acquired considerable property in Nairn and elsewhere.

13. WILLIAM CALDER - 7th Thane of CAWDOR:
Died in 1503. First married 1458 Margaret (Mariot) Sutherland (daughter of Alexander Sutherland whose wife was daughter of Donald, Lord of the Isles) of the old castle of Dunbeath on the Caithness coast on the Moray Firth. He had five sons - William (the Eldest), John, Andrew, Alexander, and Hutcheon. On 6 November 1467, he purchased the lands of Invermarkie, obtaining a charter from John, Earl of Ross. In 1471 he bought from Andrew Leslie, of Spey with consent of the Bishop of Moray, the Miln of Nairn with loft and pertinents. After the death of Margaret, he married Janet Keith of Inverugie, widow of Alan Kinnaird of Culbin. He received a Crown charter at Edinburgh, 29 May 1476, granting to Him all his lands into one thanage of CAWDOR, the Baronies of Clunies and Beath Belmakeith, half of Rait Moy, Dunmaglass, the two kinikells, Kindess, Invermarkie, Mulchoich, Drummarnie, Ferntosh, and other lands as lie in the shires of Inverness and Forres. He also received permanent hereditary Sheriffship and Keeper of the King's castle at Nairn for himself and his heirs.

Thane William had frequent strife with his neighbor, the Baron of Kilravock, often at deadly feud. A crisis arouse when Thane William seized Kilravock's eldest son, putting him ward in the CAWDOR castle dungeon. Kilravock appealed to the Earl of Huntly, the King's Lieutenant. A Royal warrant was issued to command Thane William to set young Kilravock at liberty. During the 1490's, Thane William had several other "close scrapes" with the law. In 1492 King James IV held court at Inverness in which Thane William, Thomas Hay, William Calder (Thane William's eldest son), John Nicolson, John Belgeam, Thomas Grant and James Maliach were charged with the "slaughter at Inverness of Patrick Wiseman, Duncan M'Angus, William Blacklaw and John Rede," reportedly, over theft of Thane William's cattle. Each time he was pardoned by the King. However, the most critical occurred on 26 April 1494, when he and William Dallas of Cantray and William Dallas of Budgate were tried and found guilty in the circuit court at Aberdeen for certain acts of alleged criminal actions. They were sentenced to be beheaded. However, on 25 October 1494, King James IV again pardoned him. In 1493, he had resigned the estates of CAWDOR in favor of his son John, for whom King James IV granted a royal charter in 1494.

  • A son William, who was lame and weak of body gave up his birthright, entirely devoted himself to the service of God, and became the Vicar of Barevan, now CALDER parish.
  • A son John, on 29 April 1488 became male successor to the CAWDOR thanage in place of William.

After his son John died, leaving only Muriel CALDER, an infant daughter to be sole heir to the CALDER estates, he tried to again use the law to get one of his other sons placed in the family line of succession. He was unsuccessful and Muriel's rights as heiress was made law in 1502. William died the next year.

  • A son Hugh (Hutcheon), Sheriff of Nairn by Crown charter in 1510 including the Constabulary of the King's castle at Nairn, m. the daughter of Laird of Culbin - had no sons, 5 daughters: one daughter Muriel m. John Bayne, Burgess of Elgin, another daughter Janet m. Morrison, Burgess of Nairn. Hugh and his brother Alexander pursued the Campbells of Inverliver for kidnapping Muriel.
  • A son Andrew.
  • A son Alexander of Clunas, youngest, m. Elizabeth Rose on 6 May 1515 at Auldearn. His descendants became tenants of the Hilltown of Raite.
  • The eldest daughter Marjory m. Alexander Fraser of Philorth, "God brother and God sister," by Dispensation from the Pope.
  • Three years later, a second daughter, Marion in 1483 married Hugh (Hutcheon) Allanson MacIntosh, grandson of the Laird of MacIntosh. They were "two-fourths kin" and also required Papal dispensation.
  • A third daughter, Margaret m. William Dallas, a near neighbor and heir to Bathgate.

14. JOHN CALDER - 8th Thane of CAWDOR:
m. Isabella Rose, daughter of Baron Hugh Rose Jr. of Kilravock by an indenture made on 10 May 1494. John obtained A charter on 2 Nov 1494 for the Cawdor Thanedom. According to Kilravock Castle records, John CALDER died in December 1494.

  • A daughter, Jonet was born and soon died.
  • Several months after Thane John's death, Muriel was born and became sole heir to the CALDER estate.

15. MURIEL CALDER - 9th Thane (Thaness) of CAWDOR:
According to a Charter in 1573, Muriel, then 79 years old, was born in 1494. When John CALDER (last of the CALDER Thanes) died, the thanedom passed to his infant, Muriel. According to Lord CAWDOR (1993), Muriel, the daughter of John and Isobel Rose (of Kilravock Castle) CALDER, inherited the estate and an opulent fortune. Kilravock projected to marry her to his grandson and took her mother and her into his family. Archibald Campbell, 2nd earl of Argyll heard of Kilravock's plan and contrived to bring her into the family of Argyll. He soon found an opportunity of effecting the union. The younger Kilravock in 1492 joined Duncan, Laird of MacIntosh in spoiling the lands of Alexander Urquhart of Cromarty and was criminally prosecuted by Cromarty. Argyll who was Justice General in Scotland got Kilravock assoilzied and discharged with a fine of 800 merks. To obtain this favor Kilravock agreed to deliver Muriel to Argyll. Argyll and Hugh Rose of Kilravock, Muriel's uncle, were appointed tutors dative and ward of her marriage by King James IV by Royal grant on 16 January 1495. Muriel was kept in the House of Kilravock, and Argyll gave a bond of maintenance and friendship to Kilravock on 1 February 1499.

Muriel's paternal grandfather, William CALDER, 7th Thane of CAWDOR, being pursued in criminal process, could not prevent the Earl of Argyll from obtaining from the King the Wardship of Thane William's granddaughter Muriel. Upon being granted wardship and marriage from the Crown, as tradition has it, in the autumn of 1505, the Earl of Argyll (at the time the most influential man in Scotland) sent an expedition of 60 Clansmen under Campbell of Inverliver to abduct the infant Muriel to Inveraray, Argyll under the pretense of educating her in the south. Muriel's uncles, Hugh and Alexander CALDER leading a large force overtook the Campbell party near Dartulich in Strathnairn and a battle ensued, but one of Inverliever's sons escaped with Muriel while the others kept the CALDERS in check.

Muriel was served heir to her father's estate on 3 Mar 1502. In 1510 (tradition says at the age of 12 years old, however, if the 1494 dates are correct she would have been 16 years old) she was married to Sir John Campbell, 3rd son of the 2d Earl of Argyll. Muriel resigned and took out a charter to herself and her husband dated 22 February 1511, erecting all the lands in a free Thanage and Barony of CALDER. In December 1524 they took up residence at CAWDOR Castle.

Muriel's uncles were William CALDER (Vicar of Barevan), Hugh CALDER (sheriff of Nairn), Andrew CALDER, and Alexander CALDER (sheriff of Clunas). They were hostile toward the Campbell intrusion. Hugh CALDER along with his brother, Alexander and their men soon besieged the castle. During the hostility, eight of Inverliver's sons were killed.

Sir John Campbell, husband of Muriel, made numerous acquisitions in 1528, including purchasing from Hugh CALDER the offices of Sheriff and Constable of Nairn.

John CALDER, the Precentor of Ross and uncle to Hugh and Alexander CALDER came to the aid of the CALDERs to assist in maintaining the old family line. William CALDER, the Vicar of Barevan, claimed the lands of Little Urchany and secured, with the assistance of his uncle John CALDER the Precentor (in 1506), the CALDER lands in the burgh of Nairn. He next interceded on behalf of Hugh, the next eldest, whom he destined for his heir. Andrew CALDER was already dead. John induced his nephew William the Vicar to resign his sheriffship in favor of his brother Hugh CALDER of which a Crown charter was granted in 1510. The youngest CALDER, Alexander, remained to be provided for and his uncle John found him a wife in 1515. He also gave him the west half of Easter Brackla.

However, a Crown charter united all the possessions of CAWDOR into one thanage and free barony in favor of Sir John Campbell and Muriel CALDER. Soon the Old CAWDOR (CALDER) line faltered and crumbled away leaving Sir John in possession of CAWDOR Castle and all the lands of the CALDER estate. This gave the Campbell Clan a northern foothold.

Sir John Campbell of CAWDOR, died in the spring 1546, was the direct ancestor to the current Earl of CAWDOR.

Sir John Campbell's widow, Muriel, survived him by almost 30 years. Her eldest son was dead. So upon her death in 1575, the Thanedom passed to her grandson, John Campbell. He later sold part of his estate to Lord Lovat to purchase Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland just below the Firth of Lorn. On February 4, 1591, he was murdered by a neighbor. During 1660 through 1670 the castle was owned by Sir Hugh Campbell. The land remained in possession of his descendants until 1726, when it was purchased by Duncan Campbell of Shawfield.

The union of Muriel CALDER and Sir John Campbell began the family line of the Campbell's at CAWDOR. Muriel and Sir John Campbell had five sons and three daughters:

  • Archibald (eldest son), John of Argyll, Donald of Argyll, Duncan of Highland Boath, Alexander of Fleenasmore & Raite, Katherine (eldest daughter), Janet (youngest, m. Ross of Balnagown).

Article copyright - Bill Caddell based on sources below.
For more information about the Caddells and Calders, email Bill direct at:

He runs a mailing list through ROOTSWEB for the surnames: CADDELL, CADDEL, CADELL, CALDER and variations (CADDLE, CADLE, CADWELL, CAUDELL, CAUDILL, CATTELL, etc.). To subscribe send an email addressed to
In the body of the email, type only the word subscribe. Leave the Subject line blank. To post messages to the mailing list to be read by other people, send your message to
Information on this and other surname mailings lists is available from Rootsweb.

For more about the story of Muriel Calder, you may be interested in the novel by Kathryn Lynn Davis which encompasses a fictional account of some of her life, particularly the romance with John at Kilchurn Castle. Child of Awe can be bought online as an inexpensive paperback from

The information and data reported in this history were compiled from many sources including the following:

"The Scotichronicon" (Scottish Chronicles) by John Fordun and Walter Bower, "The Buik of the Croniclis of Scotland" by William Stewart, "The Rebellious Welsh" by Louie Butler Elwood and J. W. Elwood, Jr., "A Traveller's History of Scotland" by Andrew Fisher, "A History of Scotland" by J. D. Mackie, "The Highland Clans" by Sir Iain Moncreiffe, "Cadogan Guide - Scotland" by Richenda Miers, "Medieval Wales" by David Walker, "The Highland Clearances" by John Prebble, "Surnames of Scotland" by George F. Black, "CAWDOR Castle" by Hugh John Vaughan Campbell, "Early Thanes of CAWDOR," Cosmo Innes, edited for Bannatyne Club, "Concerning Some Scottish Surnames" by Cosmo Innes, "The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland," author unknown, "The Scottish Nations" by William Anderson (1863), "A Companion TO Scottish History" by Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, "Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis" by Thomas G. Stevenson, "Highland Papers" edited by J. R. N. MacPhail, William H. Compton of "English and Scottish Research" by William H. Compton, 6005 Green Valley Road, Knoxville, TN 37914, "Robert The Bruce, King of Scots" by Robert McNair Scott, "Voyagers to the West" by Bernard Bailyn, "The Americans, A Social History of the U.S. 1587-1914" by J. C. Furnas, "Highlanders" by Fitzroy MacLean, "The Cadell's of Grange and Cockenzie" by Ian Victor Cadell, "The Castles of Scotland" by Martin Coventry, "Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia" by George Way and Romilly Squire, Collins "Encyclopaedia of Scotland" by John Keay & Julia Keay, "Rob Roy MacGregor His Life and Times" by W. H. Murray, "The Pistol-Makers of Doune" by A. C. McKerracher (The Scots Masgazine, May 1975), "Genealogy of the Cadle Family Including the English Descent," published 1915 - Washington, DC, "New Dictionary of American Family Names" by Elsdon C. Smith, "Burke's General Armory", "A Dictionary of Surnames" by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges and "William Wallace, The King's Enemy" by D. J. Gray.

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