A Brief History
The origin of the Rosses
In the early 13th Century there lived a hereditary priest in Applecross called Fearcher (Farquhar) who managed to combine being a lay abbot with soldiering. As a reward for his help in quelling a rebellion in Ross and Moray, Alexander II granted Fearcher, in 1234, extensive lands in Ross, Skye, Lewis and Moray.
It is from this man the Earls of Ross are generally supposed to be descended, although claims are made that one Malcolm MacAedth (MacEth) of the same O'Beolain family, held this title from 1153.
Chart 1 (The Earls of Ross) shows that the Earldom of Ross eventually became united with the Lordship of the Isles. After one or two forfeitures and restorations, the Earldom came to an end, as far as local families are concerned, in James IV's reign after nearly three centuries. Their Castle and Estates were taken over by the Crown. Although several descendents retained hopes and aspirations of regaining the title, apart from a brief revival in 1565 when it was conferred upon Lord Darnley, it remained with the crown and was reserved for the second son of the King of Scotland. Prince Andrew is the current Earl of Ross.
From the same chart, you can see that one "Hugh of Rariches" was descended from the Earls of Ross and from Chart 2 (Balnagown and Cadets) that it was from him that all the Balnagown Rosses and subsequent Cadet families and branches of Rosses are descended.
None of the Earls of Ross bore the surname Ross. Hugh of Rarichies, for some reason, decided to assume the name of Ross, taking it from the county. Throughout the history of the Clan Ross from that point on, there are several instances of men who have married into a Ross line, or otherwise acquired Ross family lands, assuming the name Ross and thus securing the continuance of that particular branch.
It should also be noted that, eventually, the majority of people living in the County of Ross considered themselves as belonging to the family of Rosses, even if they possessed another surname. Thus, there will be many people of the surname Ross who are not necessarily related to any of the lines shown on Chart 2.
Further details on Balnagown Castle, the Balnagown Rosses and Balnagown Estates and other Rosses can be found in separate entries.