Catnach is almost certainly a shortened version of the Scottish Gaelic Catanach or Cattanach, Anglicized as Chattan or Hattan. Clan Chattan is one of the oldest known Scottish clans, with base of power in and around Inverness, east along the Firth of Moray and down along Loch Ness. Although Anglican, they sided with the Jacobites in both rebellions, and were harshly punished. In order to retain their lands, the chiefs offered their sons for service in the British Army where several rose to high ranks. At the Battle of Culloden, Clan Chattan were the only Clan to reach and break through the British lines before they were slaughtered. The dead lay three deep on the field.
Chattan became a confederation of Clans over the centuries, including (as Chief) Mackintosh, Macpherson, Farquharson, Davidson, Shaw, MacLean of the North, MacBean, MacQueen, Macgillivray. Unlike the MacDonalds, the Chief (Macintosh of Macintosh) did not subsume the other Clans and make them change their names to Mackintosh or Chattan, so the name Chattan is not so well known. There is still a Clan Chattan Society, the oldest Clan society still in existence.
This might possibly suggest that arguments for a Scottish origin to the song Wild Rover may still be reasonable, if Catnach was indeed another displaced Highlander.
Last modified 26 October 2010