The origins of Clan Cameron are uncertain; there are several theories. A manuscript of the clan says that it is old tradition that the Camerons were originally descended from the son of the royal family of Denmark who assisted the restoration of King Fergus II of Scotland, and that their progenitor was called Cameron from his crooked nose (Scottish Gaelic: cam-shròn, ) – such nicknames were and are common in Gaelic culture, and that his dependants then adopted the name. According to John Mair, the Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation shared a common origin and together followed one chief, but this statement has no foundation or evidence to support it. Allen surnamed MacOrchtry the son of Uchtred is mentioned by tradition as the chief of Camerons during the reign of King Robert II of Scotland and, according to the same source, the Camerons and Chattan Confederation were two rival, hostile tribes.
Sometime around the beginning of the 15th century (or possibly earlier) the Camerons established themselves as a Highland clan in the western end of the Great Glen in Lochaber. It is likely they did so through the marriage of a local heiress of the Mael-anfhaidh kindred (Clan Mael-anfaidh, which Moncreiffe translates as "children of He who was Dedicated to the Storm"). By the 15th century, after the Mael-anfhaidh chiefship had passed into the Cameron family, the local families of MacGillonie of Strone, MacMartin of Letterfinlay and MacSorley of Glen Nevis were absorbed within the incoming Clan Cameron. In consequence, the early chiefs of the Highland Camerons were sometimes styled "MacGillonay". Since the 15th century though, Clan Cameron chiefs have been more commonly styled Mac Dhomnuill Dubh, in reference to the first Cameron chief whom succession can be traced. Donald Dubh was the first "authentic" chief or captain of this confederation of tribes which gradually became known as the Clan Cameron, taking the name of their captain as the generic name of the whole, until the clan was first officially recognized by that name in a charter of 1472.
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