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Origins of the Clan

The name Sandilands comes from lands by that name in Clydesdale. The family to bear the name may have originally fled to Scotland from Northumberland in the reign of King Malcolm III of Scotland.

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence Sir James de Sandilands distinguished himself in the wars against the English. For his services he was rewarded with a royal charter to his lands by King David II of Scotland. He married Eleanor, the only daughter of Sir Archibald Douglas, Regent of Scotland. James Sandilands received from his brother in law, William IV, Lord of Douglas the lands of Calder in Lothian.

15th Century

James Sandiland’s son also called James was one of the hostages sent to England for King James I of Scotland. James Sandilands was only returned to Scotland two years before his death. He was the presumptive heir to the Douglas estates and should have inherited them on the death of the James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas. However the estates went instead to Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas who was Sir James Douglas’s bastard son.

James Sandilands was succeeded by his own son John. The Sandilands found themselves in opposition to their Douglas relatives as they were unshakeable in their support to King James II of Scotland. Chief John Sandilands and his uncle James were both assassinated by Patrick Thornton on the orders of the Douglas faction. James Sandilands inherrited the estates and married Margaret Kinlock of Cruvie. One of their sons, James Sandilands of Cruvie established the line who would later become Lords of Abercrombie.

16th Century

Sir James Sandilands of Calder, a friend of the Protestant reformer, John Knox, was also preceptor of the powerful religious and military Order of the Knights of St John, whose headquarters were at the Priory of Torphichen in West Lothian.

When the Order was suppressed, he managed to obtain a grant of much of its lands on payment to the Crown of ten thousand crowns in gold and an annual rent of five hundred merks. Previously, the preceptors had sat as peers in Parliament under the title of ‘Lord St. John of Torphichen’, an interesting case of a title belonging to an office and not hereditary in any one family. Sir James kept his seat in Parliament, being created Lord Torphichen. He died without issue, and the new title devolved on James, the grandson of his elder brother, who succeeded as second Lord Torphichen.

17th Century & Civil War

The first Lord’s half-brother, Sir James Sandilands of Slamannan, was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James VI of Scotland and later keeper of Blackness Castle. The second Lord had four sons, two of whom were to succeed to the family title. John, the fourth Lord, although a supporter of Charles I strongly advised against the plan known as the Engagement, which sought to invade England in 1648 to rescue the king, in return for certain conditions, after he had been handed over to Parliament by the Scots army. The plan was ill-conceived, and ended in disaster.

18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings

James, seventh Lord Torphichen, took his seat in Parliament in 1704 and was a supporter of the Treaty of Union. He served in the army on the Continent only returning to Scotland at the outbreak of the rising of 1715, in which the Clan Sandiland fought on the side of the British government . The Clan Sandiland led by James Sandiland, seventh Lord Torphichen fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir against the Jacobites where they were victorious. In 1722 he was appointed by King George I as one of the Commissioners of Police.

His eldest son was wounded during the campaigns of 1745 fighting against the forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the ‘Young Pretender’, and he later died of consumption. His second son, Walter, who had embarked upon a career in the law, succeeded to the title while sheriff of Midlothian. James, the sheriff’s son, was a colonel in the Coldstream Guards and was elected a representative peer to the House of Lords from 1790 to 1800. He was succeeded by his first cousin, James, from whom the present Lord Torphichen, who still lives at Calder, is lineally descended.

Clan Chief

The current chief of Clan Sandilands is The Rt. Hon. the Lord Torphichen.


The clan tartan is Douglas



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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017