The nearest male heir and rightful successor was Malcolm Ross, fifth of Pitcalnie, one of the Cadet branches of Clan Ross. Malcolm had descended from Alexander Ross, ninth of Balnagowan, through Nicholas Ross, Alexander's second son, who became first of Pitcalnie. Litigation continued unsuccessfully by Alexander, sixth laird of Pitcalnie and also by his third wife, Naiomi Ross, on behalf of her son Munro Ross, who had replaced an older half-brother Malcolm as heir to the chiefship of Clan Ross when he joined the regiment of the Earl of Cromarty during the Jacobite rebellion on behalf of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in 1745. Upon coming of age, Munro Ross succeeded as seventh of Pitcalnie, and based his claim to the Earldom of Ross in 1778 on the ground that he was the lineal descendant of Hugh Ross of Rarichies, the brother of the last O'Beolan Earl of Ross; "his claim was sustained by the Court of Session and by the House of Lords", but it would appear that no decision was reached on the matter.

Captain James Ross succeeded his cousin as eighth of Pitcalnie on June 12, 1818. His sons, (1) James Ross, the ninth of Pitcalnie from 1821 to 1829, and (2) George Ross, the tenth of Pitcalnie, followed in their turn. Their sister Sarah married Donald Williamson in1834, and the line continued through their son, John Hugh Ross Williamson, who had four children with Fanny Georgina Clarke: (1) George Ross Williamson Ross, who became the eleventh of Pitcalnie; (2) Ethel Frances Sarah Williamson Ross, unmarried Chief of Clan Ross as "Ross of Pitcalnie"; (3) Rosa Ross Williamson Ross, twenty-eighth Chief of Clan Ross, and (4) Catherine Evelyn Williamson. Their grandmother was heiress in the line of both Pitcalnie and Ross and, according to Scots Law, it is a legal procedure to take both names.

The inter-regnum in the Chiefship from the death of David of Balnagowan in 1711 ended when Miss Sarah Williamson Ross of Pitcalnie presented her claim to the principal arms as chief of Clan Ross, which was upheld by the Lord Lyon in 1903. Clan Ross in North America was founded in New York City in 1910 by a group of prominent Canadians and Americans. The first president was Sir George William Ross, LL.D., former Premier of Ontario. The organization held two well-attended ceilidhs and had made plans for a third in Toronto in 1915, but it was cancelled with the outbreak of World War I. This society never came together again.

After the death of Chief Sarah Willamson Ross in 1957, her sister Miss Rosa R. Williamson Ross was designated as chief from 1957 to 1968. After the succession of Miss Rosa Ross of Pitcalnie as chief, the Clan Ross Society in Scotland, was established in the summer of 1958 by Chief Designate of the Clan, Sir Charles Campbell Ross, Q.C., of the Shandwick cadet branch. Major Ross's intent was to keep our Scottish heritage and Clan organizations alive, and to honour our forebearers in Scotland and Canada. Alec Ross, a member of the British Board of Trade, had previously been a member of the Clan Ross Society in Scotland and a meeting of "revitalized founders" of a Clan Ross Society of Canada was held on December 1, 1960 in Montreal. Major James J. "Alec" Ross held the chair as President and Mr. Jack Ross was Secretary Treasurer. Dr. John R. Ross and Mrs. Eila Ross of Toronto joined the new Association at this meeting.


The Cadet Branch of Shandwick Rosses is the oldest one in Clan Ross, from which all future Chiefs will be selected. This very old and distinguished family traces its descent from William Ross of Meikle Allan, who was the third son of Hugh of Rarichies (the fourth Earl of Ross). The second son of William Ross was Walter Ross, who became the first laird of Shandwick when his father and many other members of the clan were slain at the battle of Alt a' Charrais in 1486. The lengthy genealogy of this branch is contained in the definitive history, The Great Clan Ross, by Dr. John Robert Ross, and it is highly recommended as a reference at this juncture. Here, the story of the Chiefs of Clan Ross continues with Chief Rosa Ross's Chief Designate of the Clan, Sir Charles Campbell Ross, Q.C., of the Shandwick cadet branch, which succeeded to the title from the Pitcalnie cadet branch after 1968. Sheriff Charles Campbell Ross married Beatrice Rosamund Morton Saner in St. Colombia's Church of Scotland, London, in 1930, and their children were: (1) David Campbell Ross, born on February 11, 1934, who became the twenty-ninth Chief of Clan Ross in the Balnagowan line of descendants; (2) Anne Campbell Ross, born on April 15, 1943, and (3) an adopted son Andrew Malcolm Ross, born on February 19, 1943. The death of Sheriff Charles Campbell Ross at the end of June in 1967 was a great loss to all members of Clan Ross.

Beatrice Rosamund Morton Saner, the mother of David Campbell Ross, died in Fort William, Scotland, on 27th January 2003. She was born in India in 1907, the daughter of Albert Elias Saner, a British Army officer. Her education began in Gibralter during WWI and continued later in an English boarding school. She graduated in Geography at London University and obtained a PhD in Geology. Upon her death she had five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In 1958, David married Eileen Cassidy, and their children were: (1) Hugh Andrew Campbell Ross, born on September 8, 1961, and (2) Fiona Ross, born on May 30, 1964, who married David Anderson on November 7, 1992. Hugh Andrew Campbell Ross, son of the chief, married Jennifer McKean at Brechin Cathedral on December 22, 1989, and their children are Catriona (1993) and Callum (1997) according to our most recent records.

David Campbell Ross, the male heir of Sheriff Charles Campbell Ross succeeded as the Chief of Clan Ross eight years after the formation of the Clan Ross Association of Canada in 1960 ... just as the parent association in Edinburgh was on its last legs. When the five O'Beolan Earls of Ross are included, David is recognized as being the thirty-fourth Chief. [The chief's grandfather, Sir Ronald Ross of Shandwick, was a pioneer of modern medicine who discovered the cause of malaria. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902.]

Chief David Ross of Ross was recognized by Lord Lyon King of Arms and he matriculated arms on April 12, 1985. He became Director of Economic Development for the Grampian Region (NESDA, which includes the former counties of Moray, Banff, Aberdeenshire and Kincardine), a member of Committees on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, a Vice-President of the St Andrew's Society in Edinburgh, and a director of Clan Chiefs Limited.

On December 29, 1999, Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, through the Lord Lyon King of Arms, her "Supreme Officer of Honour on matters of heraldry and genealogy" in Scotland, agreed to grant, in a Warrant of 29th November 1999, David Ross of Ross's Petition that he be recognised as David Ross of Ross and Balnagowan.

On January 15, 2000, Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods in London, was instructed by the Scottish heraldic court to remove the personal Heraldic Achievement or "Arms" owned by David Ross of Ross and Balnagowan from the recently installed wrought iron gates at the entrance to Balnagowan Castle. Al Fayed has spent millions refurbishing the castle since he purchased it in 1973. The castle used to belong to the Ross family and Al Fayed had the coat of arms of the clan chief, David Ross of Ross and Balnagowan, incorporated into the gates. Clan enthusiasts reported the matter to the Lord Lyon who threatened legal action if they were not removed. The coat of arms are also carved in many parts of the castle itself - but cannot be removed because that would breach listed building regulations.

In the spring of 2002, the consultant editor of Burke's Peerage announced that Scottish clan chiefs were to be admitted into the pages of Burke's Peerage for the first time in its 176-year history. After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highlanders at Culloden in 1746, the clan system was banned by law. Highlanders were not permitted to carry weapons, and all tartans and clan symbols were forbidden. Even bagpipes were banned, being classified as instruments of war. The decision to include clan chiefs in the new edition marks a change in the attitude towards chiefs which had persisted since the abolition of the clan system in the middle of the 18th century. The publishers of the definitive guide to British blue blood have decided that chiefs have been excluded for too long and should be allowed to take their place among the country's recognised nobles. About 140 chiefs would be included in the 107th edition of the book when it is published in 2003.

NOTE: Most historians instinctively follow a premise that "facts" may be trusted . . . but they should be verified where possible. Third-person sources are never as good as first-person corroboration. I have never been able to explain with any degree of certainty the assertion by author Dr. John R. Ross that David Ross of Ross and Balnagowan was the 34th Chief of Clan Ross. On July 25, 2009, during a conversation with Chief David Ross, I learned that even he had "no idea what his father was thinking" when he agreed with Dr. John Ross about the number. I am certain that he may have felt that I could be challenging his statement that he was the 27th Chief, when I requested a list from him.

An email dated August 4, 2009, was forwarded to me from Chief David Ross, in which he states: "I attach the list I have prepared, which illustrates that, as far as I am aware, I am the 27th chief from the first O'Beolan Earl of Ross. That is my decision, and though there might be one more Pitcalnie than I have listed, I am letting it stand for the present.

Of course, the numbers can be altered by including, for example, the Hawkhead (Halkhead) family, but I am choosing to emphasise the word "hereditary", which I believe is entirely appropriate. As I have emphasised to you, it is almost 300 years since the Balnagown castle and estates were lost to the clan's hereditary chiefs, and I do not believe that today they should be seen as having any modern relevance

HEREDITARY CHIEFS OF CLAN ROSS, including the O'Beolan Earls of Ross:

1. Farquhar, 1st Earl of Ross, created Earl in 1234
2. William, 2nd Earl of Ross
3. William, 3rd Earl of Ross
4. Hugh, 4th Earl of Ross
5. Hugh of Rarichies and Balnagowan
6. William of Balnagowan
7. Walter of Balnagowan
8. Hugh of Balnagowan
9. John of Balnagowan
10. Alexander of Balnagowan
11. David of Balnagowan
12. Walter of Balnagowan
13. Alexander of Balnagowan
14. George of Balnagowan
15. David of Balnagowan
16. David of Balnagowan
17. David 13th of Balnagowan
18. Malcolm, 5th of Pitcalnie
19. Alexander, 6th of Pitcalnie
20. Munro, 7th of Pitcalnie
21. James, 8th of Pitcalnie
22. James, 9th of Pitcalnie
23. George. 10th of Pitcalnie
24. George Williamson Ross, 11th of Pitcalnie
25. Ethel Williamson Ross, 12th of Pitcalnie
26. Rosa Williamson Ross, 13th of Pitcalnie
27. David Ross of Ross of Balnagowan and Shandwick

It is obvious that Sir Charles Campbell Ross and Dr. John R. Ross were not using heredity as the basis for numbering the clan chiefs in The Great Clan Ross.


© J. Douglas Ross