Kenneth Trist Urquhart of Urquhart, 27th Chief of Clan Urquhart, departed this earthly realm on October 17, 2012. A memorial service and interment of ashes were held on December 28, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana (the family’s ancestral home for six generations). The Urquhart was born on November 12, 1932, to Wilkins Fisk Urquhart of Braelangwell and Alys Rivet Urquhart.
He was raised in New Orleans and developed a love for history as a child while listening to his father’s stories of the family’s past both in Scotland and as prominent merchants and planters in Louisiana and Mississippi during the 18th and 19th centuries. By the time Kenneth Urquhart was 14, he began his life-long passion for researching his family’s Scottish heritage and role in the development of the United States. He was granted membership in the Clan Chattan Association based on the research he had done on his ancestor, William Macintosh, an early settler of the Natchez, Mississippi area. Throughout his life, Kenneth enjoyed reading the journals published by the Association.
Kenneth’s love of United States and Louisiana history led him to obtain three academic degrees. During his professional career, he was President of the Louisiana Historical Association, Director of the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum, a member of the Advisory Council of the National Civil War Centennial Commission, served as Dean of Academics at St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans, was an adjunct professor of history at Tulane and Loyola Universities, and served as Director of Library and Archives at the Historic New Orleans Collection.
Kenneth was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, Sons of the American Revolution, the Louisiana Society of the War of 1812, and was a Knight of Justice of the Order of Saint Lazarus.
The Urquhart revitalized the Saint Andrews Society of Louisiana, originally founded in 1837 by his ancestors, David and Thomas Urquhart, and was also a member of the Caledonian Society of New Orleans, The Scottish Tartan Society, the Gaelic Society of Inverness, the Heraldry Society of Scotland, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a patron of the Craigston Castle Trust and an active member of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.
In 1951, The Urquhart’s love of country inspired him to enlist at the age of 18 in the Washington Artillery (141st Field Artillery) founded in New Orleans in 1838. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1957 and was honourably discharged as a captain in 1965.
For over 38 years, Kenneth Urquhart of Urquhart served as hereditary Chief of Clan Urquhart, that ancient family with its roots in Glen Urquhart on Loch Ness and the Black Isle. In 1959, the Urquhart’s father, Wilkins, was recognized by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, as the 26th Chief of their clan. Kenneth assumed the chiefship when his father retired in 1974.
The Urquhart and his wife, Lady Virginia, were key figures in reawakening their worldwide family’s sense of kinship and love for their Scottish Highland heritage and culture.
In 1979, The Urquhart founded the Clan Urquhart Association, which now has branches in the United Kingdom, North America, Australia and New Zealand. He was the owner of Castle Craig, the old Urquhart stronghold on the Cromarty Firth. Castle Craig which was gifted to Kenneth’s father in 1960 by Major Iain Shaw of Tordarroch as a unique symbol of friendship between two great highland names. As a result of The Urquhart’s efforts, Clan Urquhart has been taking major steps to preserve what is left of the only remaining Urquhart tower house on the family’s ancestral home in the Black Isle so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. The Clan Urquhart Foundation and the Black Isle Charitable Corporation for Castle Craig’s Preservation and Restoration were established under his leadership.
Over the last three decades, The Urquhart led Clan Urquhart on gatherings to ancestral sites in Scotland. During each gathering, Kenneth Urquhart presented an impressive presence in his chiefly regalia. The highpoint of each gathering occurred when he and his kinfolk paraded through the streets of the Royal Burgh of Cromarty to the rousing sound of bagpipes. The Urquhart took great pride in leading his clan up the Royal Mile during the International Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh. The Urquhart also participated in numerous Scottish functions in the United States and in Canada which include: the Scottish American Foundation Ball in New York City and was the Guest of Honour at many Highland Games, including those at Stone Mountain, Georgia; Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina; Glasgow, Kentucky; and Sarasota & Orlando, Florida, Oberlin, Ohio; Jackson, Louisiana; Blue Ridge, Roanoke & Williamsburg, Virginia, Salt Lake City, Utah; Arlington, Texas, Montgomery, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; Fergus, Ontario, Canada and Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Shortly before the Urquhart’s passing in October, he was formally recognized by a motion in the Scottish Parliament for his extraordinary contributions to Scotland’s heritage and culture.
The Urquhart is survived by his widow, dowager Lady Virginia Urquhart of Urquhart, five children – Wilkins F. Urquhart, Lionel B. Urquhart, Vickie Urquhart Castay, Christie Urquhart Walsh and John R. Urquhart; and eleven grandchildren, a brother, Donald Urquhart, and sister, Alys Urquhart Alper. The Urquhart‘s eldest son, Colonel Wilkins Fisk Urquhart of Urquhart, has succeeded him as the 28th Chief of Clan Urquhart.