Quoted from Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia (Collins) P-237

"MacLaren Origin"

It is possible that there are two quite separate origins of this name, one arising in Perthshire around Balquhidder, and the other in Tiree in Argyll. In Argyll, the family are said to descend from Lorn, son of Fergus MacErc, founder of the kingdom of Dalriada in the sixth century. In Gaelic, they are Clann Labhruinn. However, the eponymous ancestor is generally given as Laurence. Abbot of Achtow in Balquhidder, who lived in the thirteenth century. The lands of the Church were often held by hereditary lay noblemen who had the courtesy title of abbot. Balquhidder was part of the ancient princedom of Strathearn and the heraldic device associated with the district is the mermaid. The MacLaren supporters are thus related to the mermaid crest of the Murrays.

In the Ragman Roll of 1296, which lists the Scots nobles who gave allegiance to Edward 1 of England, are three names identified as belonging to the clan; Maurice of Tiree; Conan of Balquhidder; and Leurin of Ardveche. The MacLarens probably fought at Bannockburn under the standard of Malise, Earl of Strathearn. In 1344, the last Celtic Earl of Strathearn was deprived of his title when the MacLarens came under pressure from their more powerful neighbours. Balquhidder passed into the hands of the Crown, and in 1490, a Stewart was appointed the royal baillie. In 1500 James IV granted the lordship to his mistress, Janet Kennedy, and the MacLaren chief found that his land had become part of another barony. Balquhidder, later passed to the Murrays of Athol. When the Campbell persecution of the Macgregors drove them from their own lands into Balquhidder, the MacLarens lacked the power to stop them. the chiefs appealed to the Campbells who demanded, as the price of their protection, that the MacLarens acknowledge them as feudal superiors, The Crown, however, continued to regard the MacLarens as an independent clan, and they are listed in the Acts of Parliament for the suppression of unruly clans in 1587 and 1594.

The MacLarens fought for Montrose, in the cause of Charles I, at Inverlochy, Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth. At the end of the century, when the Stuarts again called for and, the MacLarens joined James Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, who was mustering resistance for James VII following him to fight at Killiecrankie in 1689. The MacLarens were "out" in the Fifteen, taking part in the Battle of Sheriffmuir. They also flocked to the standard of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the "Young Pretender", in 1745. The clan followed the prince from his victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk to the ill-fated Battle of Culloden in 1746. At the battle they were on the right of the line with the Appin regiment under Lord George Murray, brother of the Duke of Atholl. A Gaelic-speaking chieftain, the dashing and romantic Lord George led the Highlanders in one last great charge, which broke the Hanoverian front line, but this was not enough to win the day. Donald MacLaren was captured and carried off to Edinburgh. Balquhidder was ravaged by Hanoverian troops. Donald escaped while being taken to Carlisle for trial by hurling himself down a track which none of the redcoats dared to follow. He remained a fugitive in Balquhidder until the amnesty of 1757.

The MacLarens continued to farm at Achtow until 1892. The father of the present chief was recognised by the Lord Lyon as MacLaren of Achleskine and chief of the MacLarens. He acquired part of the ancient clan territory, including the clan heartland, Creag an Tuirc, the Boar's Rock, which is also the clan's war cry. He died in 1966, when he was buried with his ancestors in the Old Kirk of Balquhidder.