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MacLeod of Lewis

The West Milford Highlander tartan (the plaid of the uniform) is officially called the Clan MacLeod of Lewis tartan, from the country of Scotland:​


Clann-Lewid hath thre blak styppis vpvn ane zellow fylde,ane yn ye myddest of ye zallo sett ane stryp of twal threiddis scarlatt.

—Vestiarium Scoticum page.80, plate.12


The story of tartan and the history of Scotland are intertwined like the pattern of tartan itself. 

Although the date of the origin of tartan is not known, the clan system in Scotland started around the 12th century. Tartan’s complex design of interwoven patterns and the interplay of colors reflect the intricate natureof Celtic art. The weavers in each area or clan developed their individual patterns and colors, depending on the dyes available in the area. So particular styles of tartan began to be associated with an area or clan.    


Following the disintegration of the clan system after the second Jacobite rising in 1745, the wearing of tartan became illegal, except in Highland Regiments. The old loyalties never truly died away, and building on the honor achieved by the courageous fighting of the Highland Regiments, the wearing of tartan began to be endorsed by the Royal Court. This, combined with the dispersal of the Scots due to the Highland Clearances carried the story of Tartan to a global stage.


The Clan MacLeod is descended from Leod, son of Olaf the Black, King of Man and the Isles. Leod’s two sons, Tormod and Torquhil, gave rise to the two main branches of the Clan: the first, to the MacLeods of Harris and Dunvegan; the second, to the MacLeods of Lewis.

Throughout the history of the MacLeods, there runs a thread of tenacity that worthily fulfils their motto, Hold Fast.*

In nothing is this staunchness better shown than in the maintainance of the bonds uniting the chief and his clansmen.—MacLeod clan historian, Dr. I.F. Grant


This is the motto for Clan MacLeod of MacLeod. The motto for Clan MacLeod of Lewis is:

“I burn quhil i se”:  I shine, not burn; or, I burn while I shall.

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