A branch of Clan Alpin, descended from Kenneth MacAlpin, through Fingon which in Gaelic means “Fair Born.”
Around the end of the 10th century, Findanus, the 4th Chief, married a Norse princess and acquired the castle of Dunakin on Skye. The Clan ran a chain across the entrance to Loch Alsh and levied a toll on passing ships. The Clan also held lands in the south of the Island of Mull, but following a confrontation with Clan Maclean, moved to the north while remaining Hereditary Abbots of Iona. The last Hereditary Abbot of Iona was John Mackinnon, 9th Chief, who died in 1500. He was also Bishop of the Isles.
A branch of the family on Arran gave shelter to Robert the Bruce during the War of Independence, and were later rewarded with land on Skye where they became vassals of the Lords of the Isles and were, at times, appointed Masters of the Household. For many generations a branch of the family held the hereditary post of Standard Bearer to the MacDonalds of Sleat.
Clan MacKinnon was regularly at odds with Clan Maclean and in 1609, James VI forced the island chiefs to accept his proposals for a peaceful government under his jurisdiction. However, the MacKinnons remained loyal to the Stuarts, fighting for the Marquis of Montrose at the Battle of Inverlochy. Lachlan MacKinnon was knighted by Charles II on the battlefield of Worcester in 1651. The Clan supported the Earl of Mar at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, fought for Prince Charles Edward Stuart at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and the Chief sheltered him afterwards on Skye.
The direct MacKinnon line died out in 1756, and the rights to the Chiefship passed to the descendants of Donald, second son of Lachlan Mor, 28th Chief, who had emigrated to Antigua. In 1811, however, William Mackinnon, Member of Parliament for Dunwich in England, was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms as 33rd Chief of MacKinnon.
Surname distribution in Scotland: The MacKinnnon name is most common in the Western Isles (the main islands include Lewis and Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula and Barra), Highland (including the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland), Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire Glasgow City, Dumbartonshire Stirlingshire and Lanarkshire.
Gaelic: Mac Fhioghuin
Crest: A boar's head erased, holding in its mouth the shankbone of a deer, proper. ... a cross crosslet fitchée erect Gules.
Motto: AUDENTES FORTUNA JUVAT (translation from Latin: "Fortune assists the daring" or "Fortune favours the bold")
Places of Interest: Dunakin Castle (Castle Maoil), Kyle Akin, Isle of Skye. Held by the Mackinnons between the 12th and fifteenth centuries.
MacKinnon's Cave, Ardmeanach Peninsula, Isle of Mull. Only accessible at low tide, the name was taken from a piper who led a party through the cave and then disappeared. His dog later appeared hairless with fright, on a cliff top nearby.
Associated family names (Septs): Love, MacInnon, MacKinning, MacKinven, MacMorran, MacSherrie Morren, Sherrie, Sherry.