Among the arms of clansmen (i.e., MacGillivray "armigers") which are on record in Scotland, especially those matriculated since the 1967 arms above, features in common with the Chiefly arms are easy to spot. This follows the pattern in Scotland of clansmen's arms referring to the arms of the Chief, as a signal of his pre-eminence in the Clan and their place as his followers.
Symbolism of the Arms
The meanings of the various charges in an achievement of arms can be difficult to track because they will be based on personal, historic and traditional references that may now be obscure. But most elements in the Dunmaglass arms, which are derived from the designs of armorial stones at Dunlichity, have reasonably clear significance.
Clan Chattan charges.Several elements give witness to the MacGillivrays' well known status as an important consituent clan of the Clan Chattan tribal confederation. The Cat, a Highland wildcat, is the beast of Clan Chattan, found in the arms of many of the chiefs and clansfolk of the confederation. This is a "canting" charge, meaning it represents a visual pun on the name Chattan, actually derived from St. Cattan, but obviously resonant with the native feline of the Highlands, renowned for its fierce territoriality. The use of the Cat in the Crest, atop the Helmet, is common in Clan Chattan, but it is of interest that MacGillivray arms are the only ones to use it also as a charge on the Shield, in the first quarter. The Motto, "Touch Not This Cat", is a shortened version of the warning found in Mackintosh and MacPherson arms: "Touch Not the Cat Bot a Glove." Another Chattan charge is the Galley, or Lymphad, in the fourth quarter of the Shield, with a colour scheme of a blue (azure) ship on a gold (or) field, flagged and with crossed oars of red (gules), distinguishing it from the black (sable) galley found in the arms of the MacDonalds and other coastal clans. Unusual to this case, it is clearly sailing to the sinister.
The Hand and the Salmon.Both of these charges seem to be references to the west coastal origins of the MacGillivrays, and perhaps to their antiquity. The red Hand upright, couped at the wrist and palmwise is said to be a heraldic "sign of valour and a symbol of faith and justice," perhaps even suggesting the judicial office of deemster that is thought to be the origin of the name. Upon its field of white (argent), the red hand's link to the ancient symbol of the northern Irish province of Ulster is almost too obvious to ignore, suggesting a belief that the MacGillivrays were among the original Gaels from thence who established the first kingdom of "Scots"--Dalraida--in the west around A.D. 500.
The Salmon may have similar meanings, as an ancient Celtic totem of royalty and tenacity used by many of the clans of the west coast and Isles. A story from MacDonald tradition may have particular bearing here. It is said that in the 12th century, the MacGillivrays and other folk of Morvern called upon Somerled, son of Gillebride, to lead them in repelling the Norse raiders in the area. Somerled had been working for some time at landing a particularly fine salmon, and he promised that if he first succeeded, within that day, he would then take up their cause. The salmon was caught, and since has featured in the MacDonald arms, symbolising Somerled's status as Clan Donald's founder.
The patch of ground beneath the Shield, the Compartment, is reserved to chiefs and others who have territorial authority. Growing from it are two shrubs of Boxwood, the traditional Plant Badge of the Clan.