The name Urquhart is considered to be of Gaelic origin and has been variously translated as "by a rowan wood" or "fort on a knoll". The Urquhart family derive their name from the district of Urquhart which can be found in the old locality of Cromarty, on the north side of the Great Glen.
Traditionally springing from a seafaring tribe, they are of minor importance in Scottish history but certainly of ancient origin. In fact, the writer Sir Thomas Urquhart compiled his own genealogy and described himself as being 143rd in direct descent from Adam and Eve.
The family history of erudition and learned pursuits is epitomised by Sir Thomas Urquhart, who was a renowned writer of the seventeenth century and considered one of the most eccentric geniuses in Scottish history. He travelled Europe, collecting written works and on his return was taken prisoner by the English. While imprisoned in the Tower of London he published the first book of Rabelais, one of the world's masterpieces of translation.
The chief of the clan Urquhart now resides in America.