Traditional accounts claim that the Mc Larens are descended from Lorn, son of Eric, who landed in Argyll in A.D. 503. The MacLarens are recorded as having been in possession of lands in Balquidder and Strathearn in the 12th century.
In the 14th century when the Earldom of Strathearn became vested in the crown, the Mc Larens were reduced from proprietors of their lands to perpetual tenants. They remained loyal to the crown and fought for James III. at Sauchieburn in 1488, for James IV. at Flodden in 1513, and for Queen Mary at Pinkie in 1547. They were a war-like clan and had their share of feud with neighbouring clans.
The greater part of the clan followed the Stewarts of Appin, while the others followed the Murrays of Atholl. The Clan suffered severely at Culloden (1746) where McLaren of Invernenty was taken as prisoner and made a remarkable escape near Moffat, while being conveyed to Carlisle.
The incident is described by Sir Walter Scott in his book ‘Red Gauntlet’. John MacLaurin, Lord Dreghorn (1734-1796) proved his claim to the chiefship of the clan before the Lyon Court in 1781 through his descent from a family that had long held the island of Tiree.
Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known at the ‘White Sails’, but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden.
From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists. Many prominent people of the name include Norman McLaren, the Canadian Film Director, Ian MacLaren, the Australian Politician, and Sir Hamish McLaren, the Baron Aberconway.