Menzies is most likely Norman in origin with the family originating
from Mesnieres near Rouen.
The Menzies' came north at some point and were granted
lands in Lothian in the 12th Century, almost certainly in exchange
service. This is the same route that other Scottish clans with Norman
origins such as Bruce, Moray (Murray) and St. Clair (Sinclair), established
themselves in Scotland.
The first definitive chief was Sir Robert de Meyneris, who became Chamberlain
to King Alexander II in 1249. At some point he received a grant of
lands in West Atholl, including Culdares and Duneaves. Part of the
condition of the grant is that Sir Robert became 'loco pateris' to the
people of the lands in accordance with Gaelic custom.
His son, Sir Alexander Menzies was granted the lands of Aberfeldy
and Weem. He further extended these possessions due to his support
of Bruce during the War of Independence at the expense of some of his
neighbours who had supported Comyn's claim to the crown.
Once established in Weem the same family lived there for over four
hundred years and was at one time the oldest family in Strathtay.
At the peak of their power, the Menzies' held a significant swathe
of the Central Highlands which included Weem, the Appin of Dull and
Rannoch. They also held land in Lothian and in Aberdeenshire. The Chief
of the Clan was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1665.
During the Jacobite rebellions the main branch of the clan, the Menzies
of Weem strived to be neutral but most of the cadet branches (notably
Menzies of Shian and Menzies of Pitfodel) fought in all the battles
on the Jacobite side.
Despite various political events and being surrounded by powerful
neighbours such as the Campbells of Breadalbane, the Stewarts of
Grantully, the Grahams of Menteith and the Murrays of Atholl, the
Menzies' managed to maintain their standing and possessions until
the estates, the Castle and its contents were auctioned off to pay
outstanding debts in 1914. With the extinction of the main line the
Clan was left without a Chief on the death of Sir Neil Menzies in 1910.
His sister, Miss Egidia Menzies of Menzies was elected Chieftainess
by the Menzies Clan Society but did not apply to Lord Lyon Court to
become Chief of the Clan. She died in 1918. In 1957 the descendants of the cousin of
the first Baronet were successful in petitioning Lord Lyon King of
Arms to be recognised as being allowed to use the arms of Menzies of
Menzies. The current Chief is David Steuart Menzies of Menzies.
Click here for a more detailed history
of the Clan Menzies.