X. The Vikings and Normans
The Vikings and Normans are ethnically linked because of their common
descent from the Norwegian
group of Viking raiders and settlers of the ninth to eleventh centuries. The Vikings per se came directly
to Ireland and Scotland during this period, and in Ireland they established the first towns as coastal
trading centers, as merchant activity was a natural second stage to their original ferocious naval
raiding. They became completely Gaelicized. The twelfth century brought Anglo-Norman settlers to
Scotland, and Anglo-Norman invaders to Ireland. The Normans first appear as mixed Danish and
Norwegian settlers in tenth-century Normandy, a province of France which these Vikings wrested from
the French and made a dukedom, and from which province they subsequently invaded England in
1066. Their original introduction into the Frankish and Gallo-Roman world in Normandy changed
military technology forever, for these acculturated Vikings, afterwards known as Normans, swept
forward from Normandy into England and later Gaeldom with "Mote and Bailey" castles (where the
Gaels had raided, exacted tribute and then gone back to their own territory, the Normans confounded
the Irish by actually squatting on the invaded land with castles, thus physically denying it to its
erstwhile owners). The Normans also utilized disciplined and armored Frankish-style cavalry, thus
introducing the mounted knight. They invaded both England and Ireland with similar success, though in
the Gaelic area they were influenced as much as they influenced. They eventually became to a very
large degree, "more Irish than the Irish," adopting Gaelic lifestyles, language and kinship patterns.
The Viking Clans
The Viking clans descended from the Norse who settled in Gaeldom before
the Normans include the
Clann Fearghaille, the Claim Guinne, the Siol Tormod and Siol Torquil, the MacCotters, the O’Doyles
and the MacCorquodales
The Clann Fearghaill
The Clann Fearghaill or O’Hallorans (O hAllmhurain) were chiefs of Clann Fearghaile, an extensive
district named after them which lay just west of Galway City. They maintained their leading position in
Iar-Connacht (the largely barren territory west of the province of Connacht proper) up to the end of the
sixteenth century. Being originally Norse in extraction, they probably were connected with the origin of
Galway City itself, before the Normans came to Galway and monopolized its merchant enterprises
after the twelfth century.
The Clann Guinne
The Clann Guinne or Gunns (Guinne) descend from Gunni, grandson of Sweyn Asleif’s son, famed in
the sagas as a wily and daring Viking in the twelfth century. Gunni’s wife, Ragnhild, was the daughter
of the Norse Earl of Caithness and Orkney. She carried to the Gunns large estates in Caithness and
Sutherland. The territory of the Gunns was in the Highland part of Caithness, where they formed a
buffer state between the earls of Caithness in the northeast, the MacKays to the west and the
MacKays’ rivals, the earls of Sutherland, to the south. The chiefs of the Gunns held the hereditary
office of Crowner of Caithness in the fifteenth century, an important position in the north, and from early
in that century they carried on a vicious blood-feud with the Keiths of Ackergill, a northern branch of
that family. The MacKeamishes, or Jamesons descend from James, the chief of the clan, who was the
son of George, Crowner of Caithness in 1464. The Gunn chiefs’ patronymic title in Gaelic, Mac
Sheumais Chataich (The MacJames, or Jameson, of Caithness), is derived from the same famous
The MacCotters (Mac Oiter) were seated at Carrigtwohil, near the city of Cork, The townland of
Ballymacotter indicates their early presence in the area. It is interesting to note that the MacCotters,
like the other Norse families in Ireland, the O’Hallorans and the O’Doyles, were settled in areas
adjacent to coastal settlements which were originally Norse.
The O’Doyles (O Dubhghaill) originated in the coastal regions of southeast Leinster (Counties Wicklow
and Wexford). "O Dubhghaill" means "dark foreigner," an epithet applied to the Norse settlers of the
area by the native Gaelic inhabitants, and hence there may be more than one Norse ancestor for
families so named. In any case, the main sept of the name was located in the area of the
Wexford-Wicklow border, from which area branches spread throughout the southeastern region, and
beyond. In keeping with their Norse origin, families of the name have always been more numerous in
the maritime areas originally settled by their Viking ancestors. Owen Doyle appears as a gentleman of Arklow,
County Wicklow about 1600.
The Siol Tormod and Siol Torquil are the two great independent branches of the Clan MacLeod (Mac
Leoid). The MacLeods descend from Olaf the Black, King of Man and the North Isles in the thirteenth
century. King Olaf was of the Norse House of Godred Crovan, King of Man, Dublin and all the Hebrides,
who fought for King Harald Haardrade of Norway in his abortive attempt to conquer England in 1066.
The MacLeods originally quartered the Black Galley in their arms, which was the symbol of the old
Norse Kings of Man. In the seventeenth century they adopted instead a quartering of the "Three Legs of
Man." Their eponymous ancestor was Leod, son of Olaf the Black. His two sons were the founders of
the SioI Tormod and Siol Torquil branches of the clan, the former of which is generally considered the
senior of the two (this has been disputed by the Torquil branch).
The Siol Tormod
held the peninsula of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, the district around
Glenelg on the
mainland, and the large district around Dunvegan in western Skye. Dunvegan Castle is still the seat of
the chief of all the MacLeods, as it has been for over 700 years. The Siot Torquil held the Island of
Lewis, part of Skye, and also the mainland district between Loch Ewe and Loch Torridon until they
were overthrown by the MacKenzies early in the seventeenth century. A younger branch, the
MacCallums or Malcolmsons (Mac Giolla Chaluim), or MacLeods of Raasay, held the Island of Raasay
until the mid-nineteenth century (their chief’s designation was "Mac-GilIe-Chaluim"). The Clan Malcolm,
the MacCallums or Malcolms of Poltalloch in Argyle, are a branch of the Raasay clan. They were taken
in under the protection of the Campbells of Lochow, for whom they appear as hereditary constables of
the castles of Craignish and Lochaffy as early as 1414. The MacCabes (Mac Caba) are a branch of the
MacLeods from the Hebrides who settled in Breffny (Cavan and West Leitrim), Ireland, as captains of
gallowglasses (heavily-armed soldiers) to the O’Rourkes and O’Reillys beginning the mid-fourteenth
or Clann Mac Giolla Mhoire, descend from Gillemoire, illegitimate brother
thirteenth century ancestor of the MacLeods. Their territory lay in the extreme north of Lewis, the
Morrrisons being hereditary brieves, or brehon judges, for the whole island. In the mid-fourteenth
century their chiefly line passed through an heiress, who married a MacIan MacDonald of
Ardnamurchan. The haughty heiress persuaded her MacDonald husband to change his name to
Morrison, and he afterwards became "one of the best brieves of Lewis." They had a falling out with their
kinsmen, the Siol Torquil, about the year 1600, which led directly to the MacKenzie takeover of Lewis.
The MacCorquodales (Mac Corcadail), whose name means "son of Torquil" (Thor’s kettle), appear
since earliest memory as the barons of Phantelane, an extensive mountainous district on the
northeastern shore of Loch Awe, bordered on the north by Loch Etive and on the northeast by the Pass
of Brander. As such their chiefs were known as Baron MacCorquodale, or as "MacCorquodale of that
Ilk" (here "Ilk" indicates chiefship of the "Name"—the MacCorquodales were the earliest family to be
officially so designated). Their chief’s Gaelic designation was "Mac-a-Bharain," or "son of the Baron"
(barons had life-and-death judicial authority in their territories). Tradition relates how their Norse
ancestor was for his services awarded with territory on the north shore of Loch Awe by an early Lord of
The Ruthvens take their name from an old barony of the name in Angus. Thor, son of Swein, was a
witness to royal charters between 1127 and 1150. Besides Ruthven, he held the lands of Trauernent
(Tranent), the church of which he granted to the monks of Hollyrood. Swan, son of Thor, held land in
Perthshire, and assumed the designation "de Ruthven." He also held the lands of Crawford in
Clydesdale with William de Lindsay as his vassal. William Ruthven of that Ilk was created Lord
Ruthven in 1488. William, fourth Lord Ruthven, was in 1581 created Earl of Gowrie. He was an
ultra—Protestant, and led the famous Ruthven Raid. He also detained James VI at Ruthven Castle for
ten months. In the famous Gowrie conspiracy of 1600, John, the third Earl of Gowrie, and his brother,
the Master of Ruthven, were killed by supporters of James VI after they had allegedly attempted to
assassinate the King. Afterwards the name of Ruthven was banned by an act of Parliament, but in
1641 another act allowed the Ruthvens of Ballindean, Perthshire, to retain their name.
Sir Patrick Ruthven
(1575—1651) was in the service of the King of Sweden from 1612, and was
knighted by Gustavus Adolphus. He returned to Scotland in 1638 to join Charles I, and was created
Lord Ruthven of Ettrick in 1639. He held Edinburgh Castle for the King from February to July of 1640,
and fought at Edgehill. Later he was created Earl of Forth and Earl of Brentford.
The Norman Families
The Normans came
to Ireland mostly from the Welsh Borders, in the wake of the Anglo-Norman
invasion of 1169. They came to Scotland as guest-settlers and allies to the Kings of Scots (who prized
them for their chivalry and for their military and administrative skills) beginning with the reign of David I
in the first half of the twelfth century (see Chapter IV). They included families of Norman, Flemish, Welsh and Breton descent, the military aristocracy of England at the time. When
these invaders met the disarrayed charge of the native Gaelic warriors on the open plains of Ireland,
they usually swept the Irish from the field with their awesome three-pronged attack: First the deadly
flight of arrows from the distant and invulnerable Welsh crossbowmen, then the organized charge of
that "new animal," the charger-mounted armored knights with their long swords, and finally the
follow-through onslaught by unrelenting lines of disciplined Flemish infantry. Combine these
demonstrations of bold, courageous and creative military innovation with the savvy, pragmatic yet
treacherous political machinations of the Normans and their Royal English masters and you have the
result: Within 80 years nearly three-quarters of Ireland was under Norman control.
The Barrys (de
Barra) descend from Philip de Barry, one of the earliest Anglo-Norman invaders.
a nephew of Robert FitzStephen, who granted Philip the lands now represented by the baronies of
Barrymore, Orrery and Kinelea in County Cork, originally the clan territories of Ui Liathain,
Muscraighe-tri-maighe and Cineal Aodha, respectively. The Barrys became one of the most numerous
and powerful families in Munster. They divided into several branches, the heads of which were known
respectively as "An Barrach Mor" (the Great Barry), "An Barrach Ruadh" (the Red Barry), "An Barrach
Og" (the Young Barry), "An Barrach Maol" (the Bald Barry) and "An Barrach Laidir" (the Strong Barry).
The Barrys of Rathcormac and Ballynagloch, County Cork, adopted the Irish patronymic surname
MacAdam (Mac Adaim). There was also a branch of the family in County Wexford. The Barrys suffered
considerably as a result of the wars of the seventeenth century, but are still numerous and respectable
The Brownes (de
Brun) were one of the Tribes of Galway, the mostly Norman merchant families
city from the Middle Ages that included the Athys, Blakes, Bodkins, Brownes, Darcys (O Dorchaidhe),
Deanes, Fants, Frenches, Joyces, Kirwans, Lynches, Martins, Morrises and Skerrets. The Brownes
first came to Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion in the twelfth century. They first appear in
northeast Mayo as one of the families of Norman introduction that wrested the territory of Tirawley
away from the Ui Fiachrach tribe. From there they intermarried with the Lynches of Galway City, where
they afterwards became one of the tribes. Subsequently they intermarried with the O’Flahertys and
O’Malleys, the leading native families of the lar-Connacht, or extreme western region, thus securing
their position in that quarter.
The Burkes (de
Burc) rank with the Fitzgeralds and Butlers as among the most powerful
of the Anglo-Norman settlers in Ireland. They descend from William Fitz Adelm de Burgo, who came to
Ireland in 1171 in the company of Henry II, who first made him governor of Wexford, and later, in 1178,
made him Chief Governor of all Ireland (that is, all Ireland that was actually under Anglo-Norman control). In 1179, Fitz Adelm obtained a grant of a great portion of
Connacht, although settlement there was not effected for some time. By marriage with the heiress of
the de Lacys, Walter de Burgo, descendant of the Fitz Adelm, acquired the Earldom of Ulster, etc.,
and the Burkes became the greatest Anglo-Norman family in Ireland. On the murder in 1333 of William,
the Brown Earl of Ulster, leaving only an infant daughter, the leading male representatives of the Burkes
adopted the Brehon Law (the law of the Gad), which provided for a male succession. They divided the
lordship of Connacht between them, and proclaimed themselves Irish chiefs under the style of
MacWilliam Uachtar (the Upper MacWilliam) and MacWilliam lochtar (the Lower MacWilliam), the
former holding Galway and the other County Mayo. They did so in full defiant view of a castle of English
garrison, standing without the walls some distance back, while symbolically changing their English
clothing for Gaelic garb. There were several branches of the family, and these adopted from their
respective ancestors the patronymics of MacDavie (Mac Daibhidh), MacGibbon (Mac Giobuin),
Jennings (Mac Sheoinin), MacRedmond (Mac Reamoinn) and MacPhilbin (Mac Philbin).
were settled in the north of County Galway along the Roscommon border.
MacGibbons were seated on the west side of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. The Burkes also
possessed the Barony of Clanwilliam in County Limerick. There is a late medieval knight’s effigy of the
Burkes at Glinsk in County Galway. Thoor Ballylee, the home of William Butler Yeats in the Kiltartan
country of County Galway, was originally a Norman keep built there by the Burkes.
The Butlers (de
Buitileir) descend from the Norman Theobald Fitzwalter, whom Henry II appointed
the post of Chief Butler of Ireland in the late twelfth century. Theobald was besides granted the
baronies of Upper and Lower Ormond, and other lands in Kilkenny and Tipperary. In 1328 the then head
of the family was created Earl of Ormond. Their chief seat was long at Kilkenny castle, from which they
exercised great influence and power.
(Siosal), who came to form a clan in the Highland territory of Strathglass
Affric in Inverness-shire, descend from the Saxon-Norman family of the name, settled in the border
region of Roxburghshire and Berwickshire (this Lowland family is still extant). The Chisholms seem
from their arms to have been closely related to the Swintons of that Ilk, a great Lowland family, the
male-line representatives of the old Anglo-Saxon Beornician Royal House.
of that Ilk in Roxburgshire became Royal Constable of Castle Urquhart on
in 1359, by succession from his maternal grandfather, Sir Robert Lauder of the Bass, the previous
constable. He also inherited from Lauder lands near Elgin and Nairn, and he soon became Sheriff of
Inverness and Justiciar of the North as well. His son, Alexander, acquired wide possessions in the
north by virtue of his marriage to Margaret, daughter of Wiland of the Aird (though ultimately through heiresses from the Bissets). The mother of Margaret was
Maud, daughter and co-heiress of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Caithness and Orkney, by his wife
Marjory, daughter of the fifth Earl of Ross. The Chisholms may have acquired their possessions in Glen
Affric from that side. The Chisholms were ardent Jacobites, were out under the Earl of Mar in 1715, and
fought for Prince Charles in the 1745 rising.
The Gordons (Gordon)
of the Highlands descend from a Lowland family, a cadet house of the Swintons
of that Ilk, who were themselves the male-line representatives of the old Anglo-Saxon royal house of
Beornicia, the old kingdom from the Tyne to the Forth along the eastern coast. These Lowland
Gordons took their name from their lands: The lands of Gordon in Berwickshire. They also held the
lands of Huntly nearby, and later cadet branches held other territories in the Lowlands. Adam of
Gordon witnessed a charter about 1195.
A later Sir Adam
of Gordon was a close supporter of the Red Cummin, the Lord of Badenoch
by Bruce in 1306. After mistreatment by the English allies of the Cummin-Balliol faction, this Adam
joined the Bruce in time for the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, and became an important ally. He was
awarded with huge tracts of Highland territory in what had been Clan MacDuff territory, especially the
lordship of Strathbogie, the capital of which they renamed Huntly. Thus did the Gordons come to the
Highlands. The family rose to great power in the northeast, becoming by the seventeenth century one
of the three most powerful families in northern Scotland, together with the Murrays in Atholl and the
Campbells in Argyle. The power of the Huntly Gordons was raised in stages, all the way to a dukedom
Branches of the
Gordons settled in Aberdeenshire, where they founded clans under Gordon
In 1408 the heiress of the main Huntly (Aberdeenshire) line married Sir Alexander Seton, who assumed
the name of Gordon, and spent much of his time increasing the clan following by encouraging his
vassals to take the name of Gordon (notice the mixture of feudalism and clanship). Their son was
created Earl of Huntly in 1449, and thus this family remained the senior line of the Gordons.
(Colchun) descend from Humphrey of Kilpatrick, who was granted the lands
Colquhoun in Dunbartonshire by Malcolm, Earl of Lennox about 1241, from which lands his
descendants took their name. About 1368 Sir Robert Colquhoun married the "Fair maid of Luss,"
heiress of an ancient, ecclesiastical family who were hereditary guardians of the Bachuil, or crozier, of
St. Kessog, the martyr who is associated with the church of Luss (which saint the Luss family was
probably related to). Their descendants, the Colquhouns of Luss, while still holding the old Colquhoun
castle of Dunglass, became leaders of an important clan in the area of Loch Lomond. In 1457 the lands
of Luss were erected into a free barony by King James II, after which the then chief built the now
ruinous castle of Rossdhu on Loch Lomond.
The Condons (de Canntun) were a Norman family well known in Cork, who early formed a Gaelic-style
sept, and who formerly held extensive possessions in the northeast of that county, in the area of what
is now the Barony of Condons, which is named for them. Their principal stronghold was the Castle of
Cloghleagh near Kilworth. Mitchelstown, County Cork, is named after one of them.
The Cummins (Cuimean)
descend from Richard Cummin, or Comyn, Lord of Northallerton, nephew of
an important Norman noble under David I. Richard married the granddaughter and eventual heiress of
King Donald III, whose family held land in Lochaber and Badenoch in the central Highlands below the
Great Glen. The descendants of Richard Cummin became lords of Badenoch, holding much of
Lochaber and the Great Glen as well. During the thirteenth century the family became the most
powerful family in Scotland, holding nearly a quarter of the Scottish earldoms by right of marriage. In
1291 their then chief, the Black Cummin, was one of the competitors for the Crown of the Scots. His
son, the Red Cummin, was murdered by his rival, Robert the Bruce, in 1306, and in the ensuing wars
the Cummins were ruined. A few Cummins survived in Buchan, while the descendants of Sir Robert
Cummin, uncle of the Red Cummin, settled in the territory between the Spey and the Findhorn, on the
borders of Badenoch, receiving grants of land from David II and Robert II. They became chiefs of the
clan branch of the family, the head of which is known as Cumming of Altyre.
The Cusacks (de
Ciomhsog) were a distinguished Norman family of the Pale, the English territory
around Dublin, branches of which spread into neighboring Meath and Leinster. Members of the family
were active on both sides, Irish and English, during the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth
The Daltons (Dalatun)
came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion, and were active in the
early times, two of the family being members of the Dublin Guild-Merchant in 1226. Later the Daltons
appear as lords of Rothconrath in County Westmeath, but they lost their estates in the Cromwellian
and Williamite confiscations of the seventeenth century.
The Darcys (Dairsigh)
The Darcys or D’Arcys were a distinguished Norman family in England. The
founder of the Irish branch was Sir John D’Arcy, chief justiciary of Ireland, in about 1325. He received
large grants of land in Meath which remained in the hands of his descendants down to the
confiscations of the seventeenth century. Platten, County Meath, was the first Irish home of the family,
and from this place came all other branches of the family in Ireland.
The de Courcys
(de Cursa) are a distinguished Norman family whose ancestors came to England
William the Conquerer. In 1177, Sir John de Courcy came to Ireland with a grant from Henry II of the
whole of Ulster, which he invaded, causing great slaughter. His son, Milo de Courcy, was created
Baron of Kinsale by Henry III, and since that time the family has been mainly associated with the area
south of Cork City.
The Dillons (Diolun) came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion.
Sir Henry Dillon received from
King John large grants of land covering much of Westmeath, known in later times as Dillon’s Country.
His descendants became barons of Kilkenny West, a barony on the western side of County
Westmeath. A branch settled in Mayo. The Dillons were high in the service of the Stewarts, and after
the fall of the Stewarts, they became famous as colonel-proprietors of Dillon’s Regiment in the French
service. One of them was made a French count in 1711.
The Fagans (Pagan)
appear as early as 1200 as extensive property holders in the city of Dublin.
afterwards they are found seated at Feltrim, County Dublin. Branches settled in Cork and Kerry: The
Cork branch descends from Christopher Fagan, who took refuge there for political reasons in 1497,
while the Kerry branch became famous in the service of France in the eighteenth century.
(Mac Gearailt) called collectively the "Geraldines," descend from Gerald,
Pembroke in Wales, whose wife was Nest, daughter of Rhys Ap Tewdwyr, King of South Wales.
Gerald flourished in the early part of the twelfth century. His son, Maurice Fitzgerald, ancestor of the
Irish FitzGeralds, was one of the allies of Strongbow, the leader and organizer of the Anglo-Norman
invasion. Maurice received grants of land in several parts of Ireland, and his descendants were, with the
Burkes and Butlers, among the most powerful of Norman families in Ireland, and members of the family
often filled high offices in Ireland under the English Crown. The Leinster branch of the family held for
many centuries the Earldom of Kilare, while the Munster branch held the Earldom of Desmond. A
branch of the Fitzgeralds, the Barrons (Barun) of Burnchurch, County Kilkenny, assumed the surname
of Barron from their title in those parts, and remain a highly respectable family in that area and
Waterford. The MacMorises (Mac Muiris) or Fitzmaurices were a branch of the Geraldines who became
lords of Lixnaw in County Kerry, and became famous for their resistance to the English invaders of the
sixteenth century. In 1333 the then Earl Palatine of Desmond created three hereditary knights, two of
whom were sons of a John Fitzgerald. The two lineal male descendants and heirs of these two brothers
are still known respectively as the Knight of Glin and the Knight of Kerry.
(Mac Giobuin) or Fitzgibbons descend from Gilbert de Clare, who about 1300
possessed the manor or Mahoonagh and other valuable estates in southeastern County Limerick. The
head of this family is the White Knight, one of three hereditary knights so named in 1333 by the Earl of
Desmond. A branch of the family settled in County Cork, where they were chiefs of a territory known as
The Frasers (Friseal)
descend from a Norman family named de Frisselle (Norman-French "the
Friesian") or de Freseliere that settled in Tweeddale and Lothian, where the name is still extant. Some
of them, including the main line of the family, adopted the alternate name of Fraissier, which means strawberry bearer, as a pun on
their name because they adopted fraisses, or strawberry flowers, as armorial bearings in the twelfth
century. The first of the family recorded in Scotland was Sir Simon Fraser, who in 1160 held part of the
lands of Keith in East Lothian, called after him Keith Simon. These lands later passed through Simon’s
granddaughter to the Keiths, Great Marischals of Scotland. The Frasers were important in the conflicts
surrounding the Scottish war of independence in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Sir
Alexander Fraser, Chamberlain of Scotland, was one of the heroes of Bannockburn in 1314, and
married a sister of Robert the Bruce. His line became established in Stirlingshire, and later inherited
wide lands around Philorth in northeast Aberdeenshire from the Rosses in 1375. They are now
represented by Lord Saltoun. A younger branch of the family, descended from Sir Alexander Fraser’s
younger brother Simon Fraser, acquired the lands of Lovat at the mouth of the Beauley Firth by
marriage to the last of a series of heiresses of the Bissets. It is from this Simon that the Highland
Frasers of the Loch Ness and Strathglass area descend, their chiefs being known by the Gaelic title
Mac Shimidh (MacKimmie), which means "the son of Simon." Sir Hugh Fraser of Lovat, Sheriff of
Inverness, was made Lord Lovat about 1431. The Highland Frasers were important supporters of Prince
Charles in 1745.
The Frenchs (de
Freins). The ancestors of the Irish Frenchs were one of the original Norman
England, a branch of which settled in County Wexford about 1300. A branch of the Wexford family
settled in Galway in the early fifteenth century, where they became one of the more prominent of the
tribes of that city. Walter French became Sovereign (Mayor) of Galway in 1444.
The Grahams (Greumach)
are an Anglo-Norman family, and take their name from the manor called
Grey Home (OE. "Graeg-ham") in the Domesday book of William the Conquerer. The first of the family
in Scotland was William de Graham, a companion of David I (David I was also an English earl) who
received from David I the lands of Abercorn and Dalkeith about 1128. The Grahams have been very
prominent in Scottish affairs since the thirteenth-century wars of independence, when they were
important allies of Wallace and Bruce. The first to come to the Highlands was Sir Patrick de Graham,
who married into the native House of Strathearn, receiving land on Loch Lomond and other estates
which he later exchanged for lands at Montrose in Angus.
In 1445 Sir Patrick
Graham "of that Ilk" was made Lord Graham (lords were just beginning to
distinguished from lairds, or landholders, in the new peerage that was developing), and the third Lord
Graham was made Earl of Montrose by James IV in 1504. James, the fifth Earl of Montrose, was one
of the greatest military commanders in European history. Another famous Oraham royalist appeared in
the next generation. This was John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee (a cadet of the House of
Montrose) known to history as Bonnie Dundee (or as "Bloody Claver’s" by the Covenanters he campaigned against).
In the early
fifteenth century the then Graham chief’s half-brother Patrick Graham married
granddaughter, who was the heiress of the new Stewart Earldom of Strathearn, and their son, Malise
Graham, was thus heir of Strathearn. Patrick Graham was killed by the Drummonds in 1413, leaving
the infant Malise in the guardianship of Patrick’s younger brother Sir Robert Graham of Kinpoint. In
1427 James I seized the rich Earldom of Strathearn, giving Malise instead the almost empty title of
Earl of Mentieth, and packing him off to England as a hostage-prisoner for almost 26 years. Sir Robert
Graham, the boy’s uncle and guardian protested in vain, and finally raided the King at Perth and killed
the King himself, for which act he was later tortured to death. This line continued, however, and in 1631
the then Earl of Mentieth renewed his claim on Strathearn, but was in 1633 forced to accept the
Earldom of Airth instead.
(Mac Giolla Mhearnaigh—"Son of the servant of St. Ernan"), a sept of the
Graham’s Highland Border regions, Anglicized their name as Graham. This was the family of the
Reverend Archibald Graham, last Bishop of the Isles, 1680—1688.
The Grants (Grannd,
from the Norman-French "le Grand," meaning "the big") are a Norman family
introduced into the north of Scotland by the Bissets on the return of some of them from their exile of
1242. In England the Bissets and the Grants possessed adjoining lands in Nottinghamshire and were
intermarried. In 1246 King Henry Ill of England granted Lowdham to Walter Byset till he should recover
his lands in Scotland. The adjacent manor of East Bridgeford was then held by William le Grant, who
had married Alfreda Byset, a Bisset heiress, They are first recorded in Scotland when Laurence and
Robert Ie Grant appear as witnesses to a grant by the Bissets to Beauly Priory near Inverness in 1258.
Later, as Sir Laurence le Grant, the former appears as Sheriff of Inverness, while Robert is recorded as
holding land in nearby Nairnshire. As sheriffs of Inverness, the chiefs of the Grants became established
in the Glenmoriston area around their center at Castle Urquhart on the northeastern shore of Loch
Ness, and acquired blood-ties to the native-men of the district, who held themselves connected to the
MacGregors, which may simply indicate their traditional connection to Argyle. In this connection it
should be mentioned that the arms of the MacArthurs, formerly princes in Argyle till 1427, could be
taken as a differenced version of the arms of the Grants as both color and the "Cross Moline" are
standard marks of difference to show bloodrelationship. There did exist a famous Norman family of
Grants in the early thirteenth century with the same armorial motto as the Scottish Grants:
Tenons Ferme. Nevertheless, the arms of the Grants, three golden antique
crowns on red, may have been inherited at the time that the Grants settled in Scotland around 1258,
hence the possible MacArthur connection (a similar inheritance of arms happened in the case of the Haldanes of Oleneagles).
In any case,
since the Frasers quarter the Grant arms for their Highland inheritance
(see above), they
probably inherited Lovat ultimately from a Bisset heiress, but more immediately through a Grant
heiress. Notwithstanding their growing clan following, the Grants did not gain a real foothold in the
Highlands until 1434, when their then chief, Sir lain Grant, Sheriff of Inverness, acquired a vast district
in Strathspey by marriage to the daughter and heiress of Gilbert of Glencairnie, the descendant of a
younger son of the House of Strathearn (see Chapter VI). Afterwards they came to dominate
Strathspey from Aviemore to Rothes.
(Hacaed, Haiceid) came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion in the
settling in what is now Counties Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny. They are well known in Anglo-Irish
records, and one of them, Peter Hackett, was Archbishop of Cashel in 1385. Townlands of the name
appear as Ballyhackett or Hackettstown in Counties Dublin and Kildare, and Hackettstown, County
Carlow is still extant. A branch settled in Connacht and became Gaelicized, forming a small sept
known as MacHackett. They were seated at Castle Hackett, six miles southeast of Tuam. Some of
these were known as Guckian.
(Hamultun) were an important Anglo-Norman family of the Lowlands. In 1474
first Lord Hamilton, married the Princess Mary, sister of James III. Their son, James, second Lord
Hamilton, Heir Presumptive to the Scottish Throne, was in 1503 created Earl of Arran, and given the
Island of Arran with the earldom. Arran had come to the Stewarts, his mother’s family, through an
heiress of Angus, Son of Somerled, Lord of Bute and Aran, Ca. 1200.
The Hays (Mac
Garaidh) are an Anglo-Norman family descended from William de Ia Haye,
Scotland, who came to Scotland about 1160. He married the Celtic heiress of Pitmilly near the Tay
estuary, and was also made first Baron of Erroll. Their son David, second Baron of Erroll, married
Ethna, daughter of Gilbert Mac Ferteth, Earl of Strathearn, thus establishing the main Hay line (David’s
younger brother Robert and younger son William founded Lowland houses of the name). Gilbert de la
Haye, third Baron of Erroll and Sheriff of Perth was one of the co—Regents of Scotland in 1255 and
1258. He married a Cummin, but nevertheless his grandson, Sir Gilbert, the fifth Baron of Erroll, was an
important follower of The Bruce, who made him hereditary Constable of Scotland after the battle of
Bannockburn in 1314. In 1452 the then chief, William, Lord Hay was created Earl of Erroll. The seventh
Earl of Erroll’s mother was the daughter and heiress of Lyon Logie of that Ilk, Baron of Logiealmond,
which inheritance, together with the Barony of Caputh on the border of Atholl and Gowrie gave the Hays
land and influence in the Perthshire Highlands. The ninth earl was an important leader of the Counter-Reformation at the end of the sixteenth century together with the Huntly Gordons under their
chief, the "Cock of the North." Another branch of the Hays settled early on the Moray Firth as barons of
Lochloy, and intermarried with the local clans. Sir William de Ia Haye, Baron of Lochloy, was sheriff of
Inverness in 1296.
The Jordans (Mac
Shiurtain) descend from Jordan (Shiurtain) D’Exeter, an Anglo-Norman knight,
whose descendants acquired extensive holdings in northeast Mayo after the Anglo-Norman invasion.
The present Barony of Gallen in northeast Mayo was formerly known as "MacJordan’s Country."
Though they remembered their descent from the D’Exeter family, they nonetheless formed a sept on
the Gaelic model. In 1571 they are called "very wild Irish" by an Elizabethan official. A branch was also
settled in County Clare.
(Ceitinn) were among the first Anglo-Norman invaders, settling first in
where they obtained large grants of land. They later spread into Counties Leix, Carlow, Kildare,
Tipperary, and Waterford. The Leix and Carlow branches became Gaelic-style septs. The name is also
prominent in Anglo-Irish records, in which Keatings are found filling important positions, mainly as
sheriffs and later as members of parliament. Dr. Geoffrey Keating, the Gaelic-speaking priest, was an
important historian in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
The Keiths (Ceiteach)
take their name from the lands of Keith in East Lothian, which passed through
the granddaughter of Simon Fraser, ancestor of the Frasers, to Sir Robert Keith, who got a grant of
Keith from King John Balliol in 1294. Sir Robert joined Robert Bruce in 1308,and became Justiciar and
Great Marischal (commander of the royal army) of Scotland. He commanded the cavalry at
Bannockburn in 1314, and was killed at Neville’s Cross in 1346. The office of Great Marischal remained
hereditary in his family, and in 1458 Sir William Keith, the then Great Marischal, was created Earl
Marischal by King James II. A cadet of his family married one of the heiresses of the Cheynes of
Akergill, and settled in Caithness, where his family long had a sanguinary feud with the Clann Gunn.
The Earls Marischal exerted great influence on Scottish affairs through many generations, and the
family acquired broad lands in the lowlands of Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire and West Lothian.
James Keith, younger brother of the tenth Earl Marischal, was out in the Jacobite rising of 1715, and
later became a Field-Marshal under Frederick the Great.
take their name from the Barony of Kinnaird in the Gowrie district of East
the Atholl Kinnaird). The first person of the name was Radulphus Ruffus, who received a charter of the
lands of Kinnaird from King William the Lion about 1180. Richard of Kinnaird, grandson of Radulf
Ruffus, appears in the early thirteenth century, and Rauf de Kynriard in 1296. William Kynnard of that
Ilk appears in 1546. George Patrick Kinnaird of that Ilk, a member of Parliament and Privy Councilor, was made Lord Kinnaird in 1682 and died in
1689. The castle of Kinnaird was built in the fourteenth or fifteenth century.
The Lacys (de
Leis) originally came over to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror
1066. The first of the family in Ireland was the famous Hugh de Lacy, who was granted the whole of the
kingdom of Meath, which included what is now Meath, Westemeath, Dublin, etc., and which was,
before the invasion, in the hands of the Southern Ui NeiIl, under the O’Melaghlins (O’Melaghlin had
Hugh de Lacy assassinated by an axman in 1186, for reneging on an agreement). Hugh de Lacy
married as his second wife the daughter of the Irish High-King Roderick O’Connor. Owing to the failure
of the male line, this territory passed out of the family, although cadets of the house remained in the
area. A distinguished branch of the de Lacys, claiming descent from the O’Connor marriage, settled in
Limerick, where they had castles at Ballingarry, Bruree, Bruff, and elsewhere. Pierce Lacy of Bruff was
a famous captain in the wars against Elizabeth I in the late sixteenth century. Hugh Lacy, Bishop of
Limerick from 1557—1581, was removed from his post by Queen Elizabeth and died in prison ten
years later. Col. John Lacy was a member of the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics in
1647, and was specifically excluded from amnesty after the fall of Limerick in 1651. Count de Lacy, of
the Ballingarry family, left Ireland with Patrick Sarsfield after the second siege of Limerick (in which he
took a prominent part though only thirteen years of age at the time), and distinguished himself in the
service of Peter the Great of Russia. His son became an Austrian field-marshal, while others of the
family rose to fame in the service of Russia and Spain.
take their name from the district of that name south of the Humber in England,
they held as Anglo-Norman knights as early as 1086. Sir Walter de Lindsay, who appears in Scotland
before 1120, was a friend and supporter of David I, who had been Earl of Huntingdon in England before
his accession to the throne of the Scots.
acquired land in the hill district of Clydesdale, the estate called Crawford,
held under the Ruthvens. William de Lindsay of Crawford was also Baron of Luffness, and his son by
his first wife founded a Lowland baronial house of the name. William de Lindsay, his son by his second
marriage, was Steward to the Steward (or Stewart) of Scotland, and adopted as his arms a differenced
version of the arms of the Stewarts, significant to that office. Sir Alexander de Lindsay, though knighted
by Edward l of England, nonetheless fought for Wallace and Bruce in the Scottish wars of
independence, forfeiting his vast English estates for the Scottish cause. His wife was a sister of the
Stewart of Scotland (House of Stewart), and their son, Sir David de Lindsay, Lord of Crawford, married
in 1324 the co-heiress of the great Abernethy family of the Clan MacDuff. These great marriages are
aptly reflected in the Lindsay arms. The family acquired the Highland district of Glenesk in Angus by marriage to the heiress of the Stirlings of Edzell. This together with their
Abernethy lands in Angus amounted to about two-thirds of the county. Sir David Lindsay was created
Earl of Crawford in 1398, and was overlord of the Highland district of Straithnairn. The Lindsays had a
fourteenth century feud with the Lyons of Glamis, and a fifteenth century feud with the Ogilvys. Later
Lindsay earls of Crawford were intimately concerned with rebellion at home and military service abroad.
The Lindsays were famous for their chivalry and their knightly skill, and also for their patronage of
distinctively Anglo-Scottish literature and art.
In 1390 Sir David
Lindsay of Glenesk, afterwards first Earl of Crawford, as Champion of Scotland,
fought a duel on London Bridge against the English Champion, Lord Welles, having accepted a
challenge issued by the latter to all Scotsmen. This was fought before the King and Queen of England
on the day of the Feast of St. George. Lindsay defeated Lord Welles handily, yet what is more
remarkable is that he dismounted and remounted in full armor without assistance, in order to refute an
allegation that he was fastened in the saddle. In the following foot-combat, Lindsay manfully lifted his
opponent on the point of his dagger, and hurled him to the ground, again while both knights were in full
armor. Afterwords Lindsay assisted Lord Welles by leading him gently by the hand into the presence of
the King and Queen. Two years later, as a member of a posse led by Sir Walter Ogilvy, hereditary
Sheriff of Angus (ancestor of the earls of Airlie) in pursuit of a Clann Donnachaidh (Robertson) raiding
party from Atholl, Lindsay was himself severely wounded, and the Sheriff of Angus killed, as the result
of being ambushed by the very Athollmen they were chasing. A Highlander, though pinned to the
ground at the time by Lindsay’s lance, nonetheless managed to cut him to the bone, through his steel
leg-armor, by means of a two-handed claymore.
descend from a Saxon named Leving (Latin: Leuing) who settled in Scotland
David I in the early twelfth century. He was granted the lands in Edinburgh which from him were called
Levingestun. These lands were called in early Latin Charters villa Leuing. Turstanus filius Leuig (Latin
for Leuing) granted to the monks of Hollyrood in Edinburgh the church of Leuiggestun (Livingston) with
other holdings in the reign of Malcolm IV (ca. 1155).
de Levingestoune appears in 1296, while James of Leyffingstoun was Great
of Scotland in 1456. His family became earls of Linlithgow and Callendar, and held the ancient Thanage
or Barony of Callendar in Stirlingshire by inheritance with the native line, (one of whom, Richard
Callendar, a descendant of Eva of Lennox and Duncan de Callendar, was constable of Stirling Castle in
1282). James Livingston of Skirling was Baron of Bid and Keeper of the Privy Purse to King Charles I.
In 1641 the King granted him a 19-year lease of the "lands and teinds" of the bishoprics of Argyll and
the Isles, followed in 1642 by a grant of the spiritualities and temporalities of the same bishoprics for life, with other provisions. The representative of this line, Sir James Livingston of Kinnaird,
was created Earl of Newburg (Fife) by Charles II shortly after Charles’ restoration and return from
France (he had been granted a viscountcy in 1647 by Charles I). James raised the King’s Life Guard of
Horse, "the private gentlemen of the Kings Life Guard," composed largely of Perthshire gentry, on Leith
Links, Edinburgh, in 1661. This regiment was later commanded by the Marquis of Tullibardine (of the
Perthshire Murrays). It should be noted that some Pennsylvania Germans Englished their name of
Loewenstein as Livingston.
The Lynches (de
Linse) came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion, and settled at Knock
is now County Meath. At the start of the fourteenth century a branch of the family settled in Galway
City, where they became the most important of the mostly Norman tribes of that city, often serving as
mayors. Several of the name were attainted, their property confiscated, at the end of the Jacobite wars
of the late seventeenth century.
(Mac Oisdealbhaigh) were one of the first Anglo-Norman families in Connacht,
settling in Mayo, in what became the Barony of Costello, which originally included part of neighboring
County Roscommon (their sixteenth-century seat was near Ballaghadereen, now in Roscommon).
They were the first of the Norman invaders to adopt a Gaelic name, which marks their descent from
Oistealb, son of the famous Gilbert de Nangle (Latin: de Angulo), who was one of the first
Anglo-Norman invaders. His family, the de Angulos, obtained vast estates in Meath, where they were
Barons of Navan. The family thence spread into Leinster and Connacht, where the leading family
adopted the Gaelic patronymic Mac Oisdealbhaigh, as we have seen. Those in Leinster, and those in
Connacht that did not adopt this form, became Nangles (de Nogla); while those in Cork became
Nagles. The Waldrons (Mac Bhaildrin) are a branch of the MacCostellos in Mayo.
(Biseid) ancestor came to Scotland in the train of William the Lion on
his return from
captivity in England. The first recorded in Scotland was Henricus Byset, who witnessed a charter by
William the Lion granted before 1198. His son John Byset witnessed a charter by Henry de Graham in
1204, and was granted wide lands in northern Scotland by the king. The descendants of this John
Byset became very powerful barons in the North, but their power was broken as a result of the murder
of the young Earl of Atholl by Walter Byset, Lord of Aboyne. He and his nephew, John Byset (founder
of the Priory of Beauly in 1231) were exiled from Scotland (another Bisset, Sir William, was freed from
guilt), and took refuge in the Glens of Antrim, where they carved out a territory under de Burgo, Earl of
Ulster. From this John descends the family of MacKeown (Mac Eoin—son of John) of the Glens of
Antrim. It was through an heiress of this family that the Glens came to the MacDonnells. In Scotland
the Bissets continued to be a family of importance, although most of the old estates passed through
heiresses to the Frasers and Chisholms. The Bissets of Lessendrum are among the oldest families in Aberdeenshire.
The Martins (Mairtin)
came to Ireland with Strongbow in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman invasion.
They became one of the famous, mostly Norman merchant families of Galway City, known collectively
as the Tribes of Galway. The Martyns of Tullyra, County Galway, were one of the few Catholic families
ever to be excluded from the harsh penal code, owing to their assistance of Protestants during the
Catholic ascendancy of the seventeenth century.
The Menzies (Meinnearach)
are a branch of the Anglo-Norman family of de Meyners of England, where
the name has taken the form of "Manners" (of Etal and Rutland). The first of the name in Scotland was
Sir Robert de Meyners, who was at the Court of Alexander II by 1224, and was created Great
Chamberlain of Scotland by 1249. Alexander de Meyneris or Meinzeis had a charter of the lands of
Durisdeer in Nithsdale from Robert I, and also held Weem and Aberfeldy, and Fortingal in Rannoch, or
West AtholI (Fortingal later passed through an heiress to the Stewarts), and Glendochart, in
Breadalbane. The Menzies fought for The Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Sir Robert de
Mengues, Knight, had his lands erected into the Barony of Menzies in 1487. The last chieftain of a
distinguished fourteenth-century cadet branch, the Menzies of Pitfoddels (their young chieftain had
carried the Royal Standard at the battle of Invercarron in 1650) settled his estate of Blairs on the
Catholic church, which is now Blairs’ College near Aberdeen, and which holds the surviving muniments
of the old Scots College of Paris. The Menzies appear in the Roll of the Clans, 1597. Though after the
Stewarts were driven from the throne in 1688 the chief of the Menzies favored the new government, the
Menzies nonetheless were out in support of the Stewarts in the 1715 and 1745 Risings (though the
chief sat out the 1745 Rising, the clan was out under Menzies of Shian). Menzies of Culdares
introduced the first Larch trees to the Highlands in 1738, which was important to the reforestation of the
Highlands. The Menzies of Culdares and Arndilly (Speyside) have inherited the chiefship. The name is
(de Moireis: Latin "de Marisco"; Norman-French "de Marreis") are of Norman
were a very powerful family in the south of Ireland attached to the Butlers of Ormond. They became
Gaeticized, and adopted the patronymic name of Mac Muiris, now usually Morrissey. In 1485 a branch
of these Ormond Morrises settled in Galway City, where they became one of the famous and mostly
Norman tribes, or merchant families, of that city. They were prominent in the affairs of Galway City
down to the time of Cromwell and the submergence of the Catholic aristocracy.
The Nugents (de
Nuinnseann) settled to Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion
in the twelfth
century, having come to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. In Ireland the family settled in
what is now Meath and Westmeath. Gilbert de Nugent was made Baron of Delvin by Hugh de Lacy, and that title
continued in the family down to the year 1621, when Richard Nugent, Baron of Delvin, was created Earl
of Westmeath. The Nugents of County Cork are known in Irish as Uinnseadun, which is a Gaelic
rendering of the Norman French "de Wynchester," or of Winchester, Winchester being an ancient city
in Hampshire, England, from which this branch of the Nugents came to Cork. The Nugents of Cork
formed a clan after the Gaelic fashion, their chief residing at Aghavarten Castle near Carrigaline.
The Powers’ (de
Paor: Norman-French "le Paor") ancestor came to Ireland with Strongbow
twelfth-century Anglo-Norman invasion. Strongbow granted him the territory of Waterford, where the
family flourished and became Gaelicized, spreading into the adjoining counties of Kilkenny, Wexford,
Cork and Tipperary. Baron le Paor was one of the great Norman lords who took part in the thirteenth
century occupation of Connacht, where Powers settled for a while under the Burkes. Many of the family
have held high position in the Roman Catholic church, especially as Bishops of Waterford. In 1535, Sir
Richard le Poer was created Baron of Curraghmore (an English title), yet a number of Powers were
prominent on the Irish side in the wars of the seventeenth century, some serving in King James’ Irish
Army. In spite of their Jacobite sympathies, the leading Landholders of the name succeeded in
retaining much of their estates.
(Puirseil) came to Ireland from England (where the family is still extant)
about 1250, and
became one of the most influential Anglo-Norman families of Ormond (Kilkenny and Tipperary), as
adherents of Butler earls of Ormond. The Purcells had many castles and manors in that district. The
head of the family was known as the Baron of Loughmore (near Thurles), and the ruins of his
stronghold, Lochmoe Castle, are still to be seen. The title of Baron of Loughmoe was conferred upon
the head of the Purcells by the first Earl Palatine of Ormond (the English government, jealous of the
power of the Norman barons, refused to recognize this Loughmoe title—to no effect). Important
branches of the family settled at Ballyculhane in County Limerick, and at Crumlin in County Dublin.
The Purcells were prominent on the Irish side in the wars of the seventeenth century, one being one of
Patrick Sarsfield’s right-hand men.
The Rothes (Rut)
are descended from John Fjtz William Rothe of northern Rothe, County Lancaster,
who came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion. The Rothes came to Kilkenny about 1390, and
became important in that county. They had their chief seats at Ballyraughtan and Tulloghmaine in
County Kilkenny, and a branch of the family became one of the tribes, or merchant families of the city
of Kilkenny. The branch settled at New Ross, County Wexford, is descended from John Rothe,
Esquire, of Ballyevan, who died about 1585. He was a younger son of Robert Fitz David Rothe,
Esquire, of Ballyraughtan. General Michael Rothe served with distinction in the Irish army of James II in the late seventeenth century, and was later commander of Rothe’s Regiment of
Cavalry in the Irish Brigade in the service of France.
(de Sairseil) call themselves after a manor in Herefordshire, and came
to Ireland with the
Anglo-Norman invasion. The first of the family in Ireland was Thomas de Sarsfield, chief standard bearer
to King Henry II of England, who was in Ireland in 1172. Branches of the family settled in Counties Cork
and Limerick in the twelfth century, and later a branch of the Cork family settled in County Dublin. In
the seventeenth and eighteenth century several members of the family, representing all the branches,
had successful military careers in the French service. Patrick Sarsfield, hero of the Jacobite wars, was
of the Dublin branch, and was a great-great grandson of Sir William Sarsfield, Mayor of Dublin in 1566.
(de Sincleir) derive their name from St. Clair in the arrondissement of
Normandy. In 1162 Henry de St. Clair, Normandy, received a charter of the lands of Herdmanston in
Haddingtonshire from the de Morville Constable of Scotland, whose sheriff he was. The lands of
Haddingtonshire continued in this branch of the family into modern times, and one of this branch was
with Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 (their arms difference as blue the Black Cross of the
main line of the Sinclairs). Sir William Sinclair, son of Robert de St. Clair in Normandy by his wife, the
daughter of the second Comte de Dreux, in France, was in 1280 granted the Barony of Rosslyn and
other lands by Alexander III, whose favorite he was. Sir William was Sheriff of Edinburgh, Haddington,
Linlithgow and Dumfries, and also Justiciar of Galloway, and was guardian, or foster-father, to
Alexander, heir to the Kingdom of Scots, who died in 1283 or 1284. In 1285 he went to France to
escort Alexander III’s queen-elect, the daughter of his kinsman, the fourth Comte de Dreux. Younger
sons of his line were established in Berwick and Invernesshire before the marriage of his
great-grandson to Isabel, daughter of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Caithness, and Orkney.
Isabel was designated
primary heiress for Caithness by her father, and Henry Sinclair, their
made Jarl (Norse equivalent of Scottish earl or Latin comes) of Orkney by the King of Norway, under
whose control Orkney at the time was. Younger sons of this line were granted lands in Aberdeenshire,
and Henry’s grandson, William Sinclair, the last Jarl of Orkney, was granted the old family earldom of
Caithness in 1455. Orkney was resigned by him in 1470, to the King of Norway, under pressure by the
King of Scotland (sovereignty over Orkney had fallen peacefully into the possession of the King of
Denmark, who in 1469 had given it over to James III of Scotland, when the latter married his daughter).
Afterwards Orkney became Crown property.
of Caithness were a powerful territorial family, and though many of their
their name, the relationship of the Sinclair earls to those vassals remained feudal, though the two were
often linked together through younger branches of the earls’ family, whose chieftans held the usual clan-relationship with both parties. The Sinclairs of Rosslyn descend from the second son of William,
last Earl of Orkney, and held the castle of Rosslyn in County Edinburgh. The strongholds of the earls of
Caithness were the castles of Girnigoe and Mey (or Barrogill) in Caithness. The Linklaters (Old Norse
"Lyngklettr") derive their name from a place in Orkney, and being regarded as kin to the original line of
earls, or jarls, of Orkney, are regarded as a sept of the Clan Sinclair.
take their name from the town of Spalding in Lincolnshire, England. They
Scotland from about 1225, when Radulphus de Spalding witnessed a charter of a mill in
Kincardineshire. Magister (a church office) John de Spaldyn witnessed a grant of lands in Aberdeen
about 1294, and appears as canon of Elgin in 1300 and 1304. A Symon de Spalding was a parson
(parish priest) in Ayrshire, and Peter de Spalding held lands and tenements at Berwick, and was a
burgess of that town, in 1318. All of these de Spaldings may well be related, given their chronological
progression, and as two of the three living around 1300 are non—Celtic and thus by rule were celibate
Catholic churchmen, the Spaldings probably descend from the above-mentioned Peter, who helped
Robert the Bruce overcome the governor of Berwick (whom Peter considered too severe) in The Bruce’s
siege of that town in 1318. In May of the following year he received as a reward for his services and in
exchange for his Berwick lands (it may have been too hot for him to stay around Berwick) the lands of
Ballourthy (Balzeordie) and Petmethey (Pitmachie) in Angus, together with the keepership of the royal
forest of Kylgerry. The Spaldings became an important family in the Dundee area, and in 1587 were
included in the roll of "Clans that have captains, chiefs and chieftains on whom they depend."
The Walls (de
BhaI, Norman-French "de Valle") descend from the Norman William de VaIIe,
to Ireland with Richard de Glare, Earl of Pembroke, alias Strongbow, in 1172. William had four
grandsons, each of whom founded families in various parts of the country between Waterford and
Tipperary. In 1335 two of them, John de Vale and Walter de Vale, accompanied Sir John D’Arcy, the
Chief Justiciary, on an expedition to Scotland. By the sixteenth century branches of the family were
settled throughout the counties of Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork, Limerick and Galway. In
Galway they formed a distinct clan or sept in the Gaelic way, with a "chief of the name." Some of
these were known as Faltagh (Faltach), a case-form of de Bhal in Gaelic. The Limerick branch held the
manor of Dunmoylan from the thirteenth century down to 1580, when Ulick de Wale, though blind from
birth, was put to death by the Englishman Pelham, who confiscated his lands. The head of the
Limerick branch was known as An Faltach, which means "The chief of the Walls."
(Stiubhard) take their name from the office of Steward or Stewart of Scotland,
Anglo-Saxon title equivalent to the Norman Seneschal, or household officer. The distinctive arms of the
Stewarts, the "Fesse Chequy," alludes to the counting board used in their hereditary duties during the High Middle
Ages. the ancestors of the Stewarts were Seneschals of the counts Doll and Dinan in Brittany, to
whom they were related, as per Medieval custom. Alan Fitz Flaald was in England before 1101, and his
two sons, William and Walter, were the progenitors of the FitzAlan earls of Arundel in England, and of
the House of Stewart in Scotland, respectively. Walter was in Scotland before 1164 and was created
Stewart of Scotland by King David I. He was granted wide territories in Renfrewshire and East Lothian,
and commanded the King’s army which defeated Somerled of the Isles in 1161. He founded the Abbey
of Paisley, near Glasgow, and passed the oflice of Stewart to his descendants, the second of which
(the grandson of Walter) adopted the title as his surname. He himself had several sons, including
Alexander, fourth High Stewart, and Walter, ancestor of the Menteiths, a branch of the Stewarts who
took their name from their earldom.
James, fifth High Stewart, inherited the Islands of Bute and Arran, as
well as the royal
name James from his mother, who was the heiress of Seumas (James) mlac Angus mac Somerled, of
the Royal House of the Isles. Walter, sixth High Stewart, was prominent at Bannockburn on the
Scottish side, and Robert the Bruce later gave Walter his daughter Marjory’s hand in marriage. She
became heiress of the House of Bruce when her brother David II failed to have children, and so Robert,
seventh High Stewart, became King of Scots in 1372. There was treacherous and sanguinary infighting
within the Royal House in the early fifteenth century, especially in the reign of James I, who was, as it
happens, an important patron of Anglo-Scottish arts, having married into the Chaucerian House of
Families of the
House of Stewart fall into one of two categories: The preroyal Stewarts,
off the main stem before the Stewarts inherited the throne of the Scots; and the royal but illegitimate
(at least officially) descendants of the Stewart kings. Branches of the Stewarts, royal and pre-royal,
settled over wide areas of Scotland, especially in Galloway and Renfrewshire in the Lowlands, but in
various parts of the Highlands as well, The Highland Stewarts adopted Gaelic ways, and lived with the
traditional flux of lowland feudalism and highland chanshiip, with important bonds of association being
drawn up from time to time between the various branches throughout the land. The Stewarts of Appin
formed a clan, and inherited the Lordship of Lorn from the MacDougals. There were other important
branches in Atholl, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Balquhidder. Steuart and Stuart are simply
French-influenced forms, owing to the absence of "w" in that language: these forms do not, broadly
speaking, indicate a special line of descent.
The Tobins (Toibin-Norman-French
"St. Aubyn") take their name from the town of St. Aubyn in Brittany.
They came to Ireland in the wake of the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman invasion, and by 1200 were
settled in counties Tipperary and Kilkenny, spreading later into the neighboring counties of Cork, Limerick and Waterford. They became very influential in County Tipperary, the head of the family
being known as Baron of Coursey. They formed a warlike sept, after the Gaelic fashion, in the
fourteenth century, and were dreaded by later English settlers. Ballytobin, near Callan in County
Kilkenny, is named after them.
(Pleamonn) descend from Richar Ie Fleming, a Flemish knight who obtained
de Lacy a grant of the Barony of Slane and other estates in County Meath, which remained in his
family down to the Cromwellian and Williamite confiscations of the seventeenth century. The head of
the family was created Lord Slane in 1537, and \/iscount Longford in 1713. His armorial motto is written
in Gaelic, and translates as "May the King live forever (Bhear na Righ gan).
The lnneses (Innis)
descend fronm Berowald Flandrensis, a Flemish knight, who was granted the
Barony of lnnes, in Moray, by Malcolm IV in 1160 after marrying the daughter of its native thane (thus
the "three Moray stars," differenced blue on silver, of the lnnes arms). This barony included all the
coastal territory between the Spey and the Lossie. Berowald’s grandson, Walter de Ineys, had a
charter from the King in 1226. The ninth Baron, Sir Alexander lnnes of that ilk married the daughter of
the last Thane of Aberchirder in the early fifteenth century, thus acquiring additional lands not far to the
east in Buchan. Their son Walter, tenth of Innes, built the great tower of Kincairdy Castle. A branch of
the family appears in Caithness in 1507, and other branches acquired lnnermarkie and Balveny not far
to the south of Innes. ‘The lnneses were regarded as a clan by the Privy Council in 1579.
The Leslies take
their name from the Barony of Leslie in the Garioch in central Aberdeenshire.
descend from Bartholf, a Flemish knight, who obtained the Barony of Leslie in the second half of the
twelfth century. He probably married into a native line, for his son was given the distinctively Celtic
name Malcolm. This Malcolm was constable of the Royal castle of Inverurie, and was formally granted
the Barony of Leslie by a charter by Earl David, brother of William of the Lion. By subsequent
marriages his line acquired the Rothes, a considerable territory not far away in the lowlands of Moray,
and thus the Leslies became an important territorial family in the North. They also acquired lands in
central Fife and on the south side of the Firth of Tay, the latter by an Abernethy heiress, A branch
settled early in France, where they became the De Lisle Viscounts de Fussy. Sir Andrew Leslie, who
married the Abernethy heiress, was one of the Scottish barons that in 1320 signed the famous letter to
the Pope asserting Scottish independence. His younger son Walter married the daughter of the Earl of
Ross and was given the earldom by the King, who seized it from the male-line of the House of Ross.
The earldom soon passed deviously from the family by another heiress, into the hands of the Stewarts.
Sir Andrew’s great-grandsotm was in 1437 created Earl of Rothes. The Prendergasts (de Priondargas) take their name from a parish in Pembrokeshire. Maurice de
Prendergast was one of the Flemish knights who accompanied Strongbow to Ireland in the original
Anglo-Norman invasion of the twelfth century. He and his descendants obtained large grants of land in
different parts of the south and west of Ireland. The principal branches of this powerful family held wide
lands in what are now the counties of Wexford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Limerick, Mayo and Galway.
Some of the Mayo branch adopted the Gaelic patronymic MacMorris (Mac Muiris) or Fitzmaurice,
while a branch of those in County Kerry adopted the form MacShearhoon (Mac Searthuin).
The Roches (de
Roiste), a Flemish family from Wales, came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman
invasion, and settled in Wexford in the late twelfth century. The Roches became numerous as
landholders in the area, and branches of the family settled in counties Cork and Limerick. Roche of
Rochesland was one of the principal gentlemen of Wexford in 1598. In Cork they acquired by marriage
the district around Fermoy, which came to be known as Crioch Roisteach, or Roche’s Country. The
head of this branch was known as Baron Fermoy. The Roches of Limerick were an important merchant
family in that city, and several were prominent in its defense against the English in 1651. There are a
number of places called Rochestown in Ireland, six in Wexford alone, and two more in Kilkenny.
(Sutherlarach) and Murrays (Moireach— Latin: de Moravia) descend from Freskin,
of Ollec, a Flemish knight with lands in what is now Pembroke in Wales. He was granted by David I,
King of Scots, the lands of Strabrock in West Lothian and also Duffas in conquered Moray. Freskin or
his son William intermarried with the Picto-Scottish Royal House of Moray, in whose defeat he was
taking part, following the Norman custom of consolidation by intermarriage. At about this time the
southern part of Caithness was being wrested from the Norse who had long controlled that northern
extremity, and the resultant territory (known as "Sudrland" or "the South-Land" by those
northwardly-oriented Northmen) was given before the year 1211 to Hugh of Moray, son of William, by
William the Lion, King of Scots. William, younger brother of Hugh of Moray, Lord of Sutherland, was
ancestor of the great family of Murray, while Hugh’s own son William of Sutherland was made Earl of
Sutherland about the year 1235. His line became chiefs of the Pictish tribe that originally inhabited
Caithness before the coming of the Vikings, and to them the earls were always known as the lords of
the Catti (cat is the root meaning), the tribal designation from which Caithness ("peninsula of the Catti")
takes its name. Hence the "wild-cat" crest of the Sutherland chiefs, similar to that of the nearby Clan
Chattan (see Chapter VII), the Picto-Scottish Erainnian clan with whom they probably shared a Pictish
connection. The earls fought for the Royal House of Bruce, and but for the death of the fifth earl’s son
by Margaret Bruce, heiress of the House of Bruce, it would have been the Sutherlands and not the Stewarts who became kings of Scots. Nevertheless the earls of
Sutherland rose to great power in the North, and exercised something approaching royal authority in
As for the Murrays,
the main line acquired the Lordship of Bothwell by marriage to an Oliphant
(the Oliphants descend from an Anglo-Norman knight and friend of David I). These Bothwell Murrays
were very important in the wars of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as patriots, but the lordship of
Bothwell passed away from the family in 1360 in the female line (through an heiress) to the Douglases
(the Douglases were essentially a Lowland family of Flemish origin, although the power of the Red
Douglases, the chief branch of the family after 1455, was partly derived from the Stewart earldom of
Angus, which they inherited in the late fourteenth century: Afterwards Douglases appear holding lands
and titles in the lowlands of Fife and on lower Donside and Deeside in the northeast). By two "Bands of
Association" in the late sixteenth century, however, the various Murray lairds from all over Scotland
(Sutherland and Moray, Perthshire, Stirlingshire, and the Lowlands) recognized the Tullibardine branch
(see Chapter IV) as chief and pledged allegiance to Sir John Murray, first Earl of Tullibardine (the
Tullibardine branch had been vested in the chiefly arms of Murray by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in
1542). Among those signing one or the other of these Bands were the Morays of Abercairney in
Strathearn, Perthshire, and the Murrays of Polmaise in Stirlingshire, both of whom nonetheless claim
senior male-line descent. Also in the Bands were the Murrays of Cockpool in Dumfriesshire, the
Murrays of Cobairdy in Buchan, and the Murrays of Falahill and Blackbarony on the Borders.
The House of
Tullibardine had originally been discouraged for aiding Balliol in the
century, but was raised to favor again as a result of the Gowrie Conspiracy at the expense of the
Ruthvens. The Murray earls of Tullibardine soon inherited the Stewart earldom of Atholl in Perthshire,
and thus the Murray earls of Atholl, later dukes of the same, became leaders of the various clans and
baronial families of Atholl, who were now their feudal tenants. This resulted in a unique mix of clanship
and feudalism, placing clan and family groups within a greater feudal context. After the fourteenth
century fall of the House of Strathearn from their position as the native leaders of the Perthshire region,
the Stewart earls of Atholl in northern Perthshire had gladly attempted to fill the void left by their
demise. With the coming of the South-Perthshire Tullibardine line to Atholl in the early seventeenth
century (and given their female-line connection to the House of Strathearn) there came a jelling of a
natural regional unity behind the Murray dukes of Atholl, who led the Athollmen and the
South-Perthshire gentry to a kind of regional nationhood: Itself set between the regional spheres of the
Gordons of Huntly in the northeast, and the hostile Campbells of Argyle to the west.
(Baroid—Cork, Baireid—Mayo) came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion
and settled as two families of the same Welsh stock, one of which, seated
Castle Barrett, became influential in central County Cork, where they were large landowners down to
the year 1691. In that year the then head of the Cork family, Colonel John Barrett, was deprived of
12,000 acres for raising a regiment of infantry for King James’ Irish army. The Cork Barretts had
already suffered loss of land under earlier English encroachments, and originally had been proprietors
of the whole of what is now the Barony of Barrett, formerly known as Barrett’s Country.
The Mayo Barretts
had settled in the northwest of that county, in the Barony of Tirawley,
became numerous and powerful. They came to form a clan in the Gaelic fashion, the head of which
was known as Mac Bhaitin Baireid (Mac Watten Barrett). There were two sub-clans of the Barretts, the
Clan Aindriu, or MacAndrews settled between Lough Conn and the River Moy and the Clan Toimin, or
The Blakes (de
Blaca: Norman-French "le Blac") are a Cambro-Norman family, that is, an
Anglo-Norman family of Welsh origin. They came in the fourteenth century to form one of the Tribes of
Galway, the wealthy mostly Norman merchant families of that city, their ancestor being Richard
Caddell, alias le Blake, who was sheriff of Connacht in 1303. It was not until the seventeenth century
that the surname Blake finally supplanted the original name, which was Caddell, and throughout their
history in Galway the family is referred to as "Caddell, alias le Blake," or vice-versa. The Blakes were
long prominent in Galway’s government and ecclesiastical activity. The Blakes became extensive
landowners in County Galway, and two of them were outstanding figures in the seventeenth century:
Sir Richard Blake was chairman of the Assembly of Confederate Catholics at Kilkenny in 1647, and
Francis Blake was on the Supreme Council. A branch of the Blakes settled in County Kildare, where
their presence is reflected by the existence of three townlands called Blakestown.
The Joyces (Seoigh)
are of Welsh origin, and came to Ireland in the wake of the Anglo-Norman
invasion. The first of the family recorded in Ireland was Thomas de Joyce, who married the daughter of
the O’Brien Prince of Thomond in 1283 and then took her by sea to Galway, where he settled in a wild
mountainous tract on the Mayo border of the generally desolate region known as "Iar Connacht," which
means west of Connacht. This territory became known as Joyce’s Country (Duthaigh Seoghach), now
the Barony of Ross in County Galway. Here they came to form a clan-group on the Gaelic model, and
while initially under the overlordship of the O’Flahertys, they became a power in their own right, and
were known as a race of very large men. Some of them became known as Cunnagher. A branch of the
Joyces became established as one of the Tribes of Galway City (see above).
The Clann Uighilin
or MacQuillans (Mac Uighilin) descend from a family of Welsh origin which
Ireland soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion and settled in Antrim in the late twelfth century. Branches of this family, known then as the de
Mandevilles, settled in Waterford and Tipperary where the name became Mansfield (another family of
Anglo-Norman origin, the de Mandywells, became Mandevilles in Tipperary). The main line, having
settled in the north of County Antrim, in the area known as the Route, became known as the
MacQuillans, and very early became a completely Gaelicized sept on the native model, their chief
being known as Lord of the Route. Their chief seat was at the castle of Dunluce. In 1315 their then
chief joined Edward Bruce, and during that century they ranked as hereditary high constables of Ulster.
Their predominant position in northeastern Ulster was further consolidated by their participation in the
warlike actions of the Northern Ui Neill during the fifteenth century, and their chiefs were sometimes
referred to as princes of Dal Riada. In 1541 Rory Og MacQuillan, the then chief declared that no
"captain of his race" ever died in his bed.
met with major defeats at the hands of the MacDonnells, after which their
greatly reduced, and many of them were dispersed. The last Lord of the Route, a later Rory Og
MacQuillan, partly recovered from the initial English confiscations in Ulster, and died in 1634. A
Captain Rory MacQuillan was an officer in O’Neill’s infantry in King James II’s Irish Army in the late
The Rices (Ris)
are a Welsh family (called Rhys in Wales) that settled in the south of
Ireland in the
fourteenth century, and became influential merchants and landowners near Limerick City and near
Dingle in County Kerry. They were prominent in the civic government of Limerick, Cork and Waterford,
but suffered heavily under the Cromwellian confiscations of the mid-seventeenth century, especially in
Kerry. Afterwards, several leading members of the family became famous as Wild Geese, that is, as
Irish soldiers in Europe, and some of the Kerry branch settled in France and became successful
The Taaffes (Tath)
were an important Cambro-Norman family, that is, they were one of the families
Welsh origin who joined in the Anglo-Norman invasion of the late twelfth century. Their ancestors
settled in Louth in the late thirteenth century. They were prominent in the Pale, and later in the wars
against the O’Neills, for which service they were granted wide tracts of confiscated land in Sligo. They
later lost everything for their loyalty to the Stewarts. Other important Anglo-Norman families in Louth
included the Darditzes (Dairdis) or Dardeses of Darditz-rath in Louth, and also the Catholic and
pro—Irish Teelings (Taoiling) of counties Louth and Meath.
The Walshes (Breathnach)
of southeastern Ireland mostly descend from Haylen Walsh, alias Brenach
(both names mean "a welshman," Brenach is from the Gaelic), or from his uncle David: the former
being the son of a Cambro Norman invader of 1172 known as Philip the Welshman, the latter being
Philip’s brother. They settled in southwest Kilkenny, where the family gave its name to the Walsh
Mountains. They spread also into Leix, Waterford and Dublin. Castle HayI or Hoel (Haylen’s Castle) in Kilkenny was a stronghold. Many espoused the Irish
cause beginning in the late sixteenth century, and as a result many lost their wide lands during the
wars of the seventeenth century.
The Savages (Sabhaois)
are an Anglo-Norman family originally planted in the Ards of County Down
Sir John de Courcy in 1177. They became completely Gaelicized from the fifteenth century onwards,
and were prominent on the Irish side in the wars against Elizabeth. The Four Masters record the name
as Mac an tSabhaisigh—"the son of The Savage." The Savages retained considerable property down to
the revolution of 1689.
were a number of families of Anglo-Norman genesis that formed important
houses in the border regions surrounding the Perthshire Highlands from the later middle ages onwards.
The Haldanes (or Haddens) of Gleneagles in Perthshire descend from a cadet of the Anglo-Norman
house of Howden or Hauden of that Ilk (the barony of Hadden or Halden) in Roxburgshire. This younger
son married the heiress of the family of de Gleneagles in Perthshire, and thus became possessed of
the estate of Gleneagles. They became representatives of this extinct family, and adopted their arms
as their own. Aylmer de Haldane de Gleneagles rendered homage in 1296. The Haldanes of
Gleneagles were barons of some consequence from that time onwards, into the seventeenth century,
though the name is now rare in Perthshire. The quartering of Lennox and Menteith in their arms reflects
the early fifteenth century marriage of John Haldane of Gleneagles to the eldest granddaughter of
Margaret (wife of Robert Menteith of Rusky), one of the heiresses of the earldom of the Lennox in the
late fourteenth century. David Hadden, tutor (laird) of Gleneagles is mentioned in 1614. The Haldanes of
Lanrick, Stirlingshire, were cadets of Gleneagles.
The Butters or
Buttars of Gormack (just east of Dunkeld) in Perthshire and later Pitlochry
(and later also Faskally) in Atholl appear as landowners in the area as early as 1331, when Adam Butir
is on record, and in 1360 William Butyr and Patrick Butirr are mentioned as collectors of contributions
in Gowrie (Perthshire). Their name apparently refers to the practice of archery, which is performed at
the butts, that is, at the target range (the crest of the Butter arms is comprised of two hands holding a
drawn bow and arrow). Between 1432 and 1444, Finlay and Patrick Butter served on inquests with
other local lairds (landowners) such as Sir David Murray of Tullibardine and Malcolm Drummond of
Stobhall, Patrick Rattray of that Ilk, Finlay Ramsay of Bamff and Malcolm Moncreiffe of that Ilk. The
Butters were followers of the House of Atholl (see Murray).
The Ramsays are,
according to tradition, originally from Huntingdonshire, where Ramsey (Latin:
Rameseia) is a name derived from a local place. The first of the name recorded in Scotland is Simund
de Ramesie who witnessed a charter to the Abbey of Holyrood (Edinburgh) before 1175, and probably
in the time period of about 1153 to 1165. Symone de Ramsay witnessed a charter by Gilbert, Earl of
Strathearn before 1198, and William de Rameshej witnessed a charter by William the Lion before 1200.
William de Ramessay appears as de Dalwussy (Dalhousie near Edinburgh) in about 1235, and Sir
Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie appears in 1342, (the family were later earls of Dalhousie). Michael de
Ramesay was Sheriff of Fife in 1395. By the middle of the thirteenth century the Ramsays appear as
landowners in Angus, dividing into several branches during the fourteenth century.
The Reids (Ruadh)
of Colliston in Buchan and the Reid Barons of Strathloch are early fifteenth-century
branches of the Ramsays, and probably descend from Patrick Reid (Red Patrick) Ramsay, who
apparently married the heiress of Strathloch in Atholl, a granddaughter of the chief of the Robertson.
The Strathloch family adhered to the Robertsons.
of Powrie in Angus held large estates in that county, and had a cadet family,
Fotheringhams of Ballindean, seated in Perthshire. They descend from Henry de Fodringhay or
Foddrynghame, deputy of the sheriff of Perth in 1358, who received the lands of Balewny, near Dundee,
from Robert II before 1377. They take their name, originally Fotheringhay (Fotheringham is a corruption
caused by the resemblance of the final "ay" to "in" in old records) from the manor and castle of
Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire in England, owned in the twelfth century by the Royal House of
Scotland. Prince David, before he became King David I in 1124 was closely associated with these
estates, and that is why so many Anglo-Norman families in Scotland came from Northamptonshire.
Hugh de Foderingeye of the County of Perth rendered homage in 1296. Walter de Fodringgeye was one
of the executors of the will, in 1291, of Dervorgilla, wife of John Balliol, the competitor for the Scottish
Crown, and was later associated with the son, Edward Balliol, with whom he came north in the latter
Balliol’s invasion of Scotland in 1332.
of Keir appear about 1160, and branches of the family came to hold wide
lands north of
the town of Stirling and around Cadder in Stirlingshire. They take their name from the town of Stirling.
Gilbertus de Striuelin and Walter de Striveling were witnesses for King David in 1136, while Peter de
Striuelin appears as a witness to a gift to the Abbey of Hollyrood in Edinburgh in 1158. Sir John Stirling
of Moray swore fealty in 1291, and was probably the ancestor of the Stirlings of Edzell, whose large
highland district of Glenesk in North Angus passed through an heiress to the Lindsays. King James III
was probably killed by Stirling of Keir after the battle of Sauchieburn, after he had burned Stirling of
Keir’s tower (castle-house) a few days before. A branch of the family settled early in Nairnshire.