MacLaren clan history and heraldry is riddled with errors, blindly followed by the Court of the Lord Lyon. The earliest account I have found after extensive research of the legend that the MacLarens came from a race of mermaids, is from 1846.
In 1781 John MacLaurin Lord Dreghorn 1734-1796 became clan chief, His heraldry included two Britons as supporters on each side of the shield depicting what I believe to be St. Moluag's staff. The one that Naill Livingstone possesses. MacLea/Livingstone and McLaurin YDNA is similar BTW.
|Correct Chiefly Coat of Arms, John MacLaurin with Briton Supporters|
At some point in the early 1800's a heraldic artist depicted John MacLaurin's coat of arms with two 'Tritons' instead of 'Britons", apparently misreading the written description of John MacLaurin's COA's, as you can see below.
|Incorrect Chiefly Coat of Arms, John MacLaurin with Briton Supporters|
In the 1840's, James Logan mistook the 'Tritons' for 'Mermaids', they are similar looking and he apparently did not double check John MacLaurin's COA's.
Logan and MacIan published the following.
"There is a traditional origin given of the Mac Laurins, with reference to a mermaid, which is among the most puerile of the many similar legends; but it was sufficient to induce the heralds to assign armorial bearings, allusive to the fancied occurrance, when the eminent Lord Dreghorn, who claimed the chief ship, applied, in 1781, for matriculation of these family honours in the Lyon College of Arms." James Logan, MacIan's Costumes, 1846
So, as most everything else Clan MacLaren in Balquhidder and Strathearn it is all rubbish. The Britons mistook for Tritons, then mistook for Mermaids, and now it is legend, etched in stone in the Balquhidder kirkyard.