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SHAND - Some Notices of the surname of SHAND, particularly of the County of Aberdeen
By Rev George Shand
Norwich 1877.


In the well-known English work, Gwillim’s Heraldry, sixth edition, London, folio 1724 p.35 we find mention made of the family of “Shan of that Ilk”, with the fine and simple arms, Azure, a bend argent. Unfortunately no authority which can be traced is given for this statement, and the arms in question have long been the inheritance of another ancient Aberdeenshire family.

It is true that in the extensive MS. collections of the late Mr. Alexander Deuchar, Genealogist and Seal Engraver in Edinburgh, which were disposed of by public auction some thirty years ago, or more, and to which the compilers of these notes have been largely indebted, the surnames of Shand and Sands are treated as identical; and there does appear to have been a family of Sands, who were styled “de Eodem,” in the fifteenth century. But it would appear to be a mistake to connect the two names in this way. The name Sands is found in a totally different part of Scotland, viz., in and about the town of Culross, on the Firth of Forth, and in Perthshire, while, as we have seen, that of Shand was originally confined to the north east of Scotland. The arms of the two names are also entirely different.

It is a somewhat remarkable circumstance that in the records of the office of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, several coats of arms, in no respect resembling each other, are assigned to the name of Shand. Which of these may be the oldest in date it is not easy to determine, as there is no precise date, so far as we can discover, attached to any of them, but we may begin with the escutcheon given in Workman’s MS. which dates, we believe, from about the year 1570, additions having been made to it during the period from 1610 to 1620.

These bearings are, Vert, on a pack of wool, or cushion, a camel’s head and neck argent, in chief two crescents of the last. These arms would appear to point to some connection, commercial or other, with the East, but no account of their origin, or trace of any person or persons who may have used these or similar armorial ensigns has been preserved.

The next coat of arms appropriated to the name Shand, in the registers of the Lyon office, is a very striking and beautiful escutcheon, viz., Azure in the Sun, the Virgin Mary with the Babe, all proper. To the entry is subjoined the following note, “see Randle Holmes Book, ii c 1, fig 45, for the manner of drawing.” It appears, as we shall see by and by, that in the times before the Reformation, there were several dignified ecclesiastics in the diocese of Aberdeen of the name Schand.

This fact, taken in connection with the peculiar nature of these armorial bearings themselves led us at one time to think that they might have been used by some of those individuals. We know that the great events of our faith have been often prominently depicted by heralds in all the countries of Europe, and assigned and appropriated to Bishops and other clerics in the different grades of their sees, offices and jurisdictions. But, on further enquiry, we are satisfied that this is really French heraldry, and that these bearings are the arms of the family of Chandos or Shandos, which, as is well known, produced several distinguished captains in the course of the long wars between the English and the French.

(The following amusing anecdote is from Froissart: - Whilst the Cardinal de Perigord was riding from one army to the other, on the day before the battle of Poietiers, endeavouring to make peace, some knights of either party rode forth, skirting their enemy’s army to examine its disposition. It chanced that day Sir John Chandos had rode out near one of the wings of the French army, and Lord John de Clermont, one of the king’s marshals, had done the same to view the English. As each knight was returning to his quarters, they met. They both had the same device upon the surcoats, which they wore over their other clothes; it was a Virgin Mary embroidered on a field azure, or, encompassed with the rays of the sun, argent.

On seeing this, Lord Clermont said, “Chandos, how long is it since you have taken upon you to wear my arms”. “It is you who have mine” replied Chandos; “for it is as much mine as yours”. “I deny that” said the Lord of Clermont; “and were it not for the truce between us, I would soon show you that you have no right to wear it.” “Ha!” answered Sir John Chandos, “you will find me to-morrow in the field, ready prepared to defend, and to prove by force of arms, that it is much mine as yours”. The Lord of Clermont replied; “These are the boastings of you English, who can invent nothing new, but take for your own whatever you see handsome belonging to others”. With that they parted, without more words and each returned to his own army.)

In 1485, as Lord Bacon tells us in his History of King Henry VII, that king created “the Lord Chandos of Britain (Brittany), Earl of Bath” and this is no doubt the Philibert de Shaunde, who figures in the books of the Extinct Peerage as “Earl of Bath” of those times. (See Dugdale’s Baronage ii 288). How the arms of this family came to be assigned in Scotland to the name of Shand, we cannot explain. Possibly the similarity of the name may have contributed to this conclusion. At all events, we are not aware of any more definite relation having ever existed, or been supposed to exist, between the two surnames.

Another coat of arms is also designated as belonging to the name of Shand, in the rolls of the Lyon office. It is as follows: “Gules, a fleur de lis, between three crescents argent.” Of the origin and history or actual use of this blazon by any individual or family, we have been able to learn nothing.

As to the arms actually borne by different existing families of this name, so far as we have been able to discover, they are those of the Schands or Shands of Craig (now Caskieben) in the parish of Dyee and county of Aberdeen, with distinctive differences. The family of Craig rose to opulence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We find their arms matriculated in the books of the Lord Lyon, about the middle of the sixteenth century. They appear on their monuments and tombstones, particulary in the East Church, as it is now called, in the city of Aberdeen, the ancient Quire of the church of St Nicholas, which was long celebrated in ante-reformation times as being one of the largest and most magnificent parish churches in Scotland.

These armorial bearings are thus recorded in the Lyon Registers: Azure, a boar’s head couped argent, on a chief of the second, three mullets gules. Crest, a dove volant above the waters holding ane braunch of olive in her beek, proper. Motto, Virtute Duce Comite Fortuna. Thomas Shand, who subscribed himself “of Bendach”, part of the Barony of Craig, as we shall see below, was descended from an ancient and wealthy family which, for generations, had intermarried with leading families both in the town and county. We learn, from some notices of St. Nicholas’ Church, preserved in the MSS. Of the late Mr. James Logan, author of The Scottish Gael, (Advocates’ Library, Aberdeen) made early in this century, that various memorials of this family and its connections were to be met with in the carvings of the old black oak panelling of the pews. But all those ornaments have unfortuantely disappeared. The church was rebuilt some forty years ago, at a period when the revival of good taste and the appreciation of our native antiquities, now so happily characteristic of our Ediles, had scarecly dawned among us.

As we have already said, this coat of arms appears to be the only one in use by the families of the surname. In the records of the Lyon office, we find it assigned to the ancestors of various branches of the name, with some distinctive difference usually marking the maternal descent of the granteee. Thus the Shands of the Burn and Arnhall have these arms in the first and third quarter, with those of Chalmers in the second and fourth.

Sir C.F. Shand, Chief Justice of Mauritius and his brother, the Rev. Geo. Shand, Rector of Heydon, Norfolk, the only surviving children of the late Rev. James Shand, of Marykirk, have the arms of Craig, with the border ermine, and three escutcheons gules, shewing their maternal descent, some generations back, from the Hays. The Shands of Craigellie have also similar arms. It appears from the Lyon office records that others of the name in Aberdeenshire have has the same cognizance alloted to them, with the addition of a bordure or, its upper part suppressed by the chief, with the same crest, but the motto shortened to Virtute Duce.

It has been conjectured that these armorial bearings, particularly the shield azure, with the Boar’s Head couped argent, mark the connection of the Shands with the leading Aberdeenshire family of Gordon, in early times. It is well known that the powerful and numerous surname of old carried only one Boar’s Head couped argent, in a field azure, instead of three boars’ heads, as has been the bearing of the whole name for centuries. It may be readily surmised that it is not likely that such a shield as that appropriated to the Shands, could, in Aberdeenshire, have been assigned to and used by them, without some connection of feudal dependency, intermarriage, or otherwise.

We shall see by and by that the Shands are found intermarrying with many of the leading families of the district; but, so far as we are aware, no special relations with any of the numerous branches of the Gordons have been noted. The fact, however, my be here deemed worthy of being set down, that the Gordons of Pitlurg, an ancient and distinguished branch of the surname, coming off the main stem, before the Seton marriage, which took place early in the fifteenth century, carry as their crest, a dove, with the olive leaf in her bill.

It may also be thought noteworthy that there is a tradition among some of the Shands, that, like the Bairds, the ancestors of the family of Auchmedden and others, the Shands came originally from the South to Aberdeenshire, with the Gordons, in the fourteenth century. But, unfortunately for the truth of this tradition, we know nothing to corroborate it, except it may be the striking similarity of their arms.

One thing however is clear , that in the polotics of the day, and the excited burgher and county factions of the times, the Schands were devoted patizans of the Menzieses. In 1588, Alexander Schand died, in the highly confidential position of sceretary to Gilbert Menzies, the Provost of Aberdeen. – Parochial Records. And we learn from the same source that the Schands intermarried with the Menzieses, and that on their festive occasions: - christenings and the like, the witnesses were often of the Menzies family and their friends. It is well known that the Menzieses followed the Gordons in their devotion to the Royalist, and what may be called the aristocratic party, in the long course of our national and domestic history of the sixteenth and following centuries. There is ample evidence in the following pages that the leading citizens of the name Schand continued faithful to these principles to the last. Hence, possibly, and from the fact that we find the Schands often holding land under the Gordons, the armorial bearings of the former may have been derived.

It is not unlikely that the three mullets were derived from the ancient Aberdeenshire family of Blackhall of that Ilk, or of Reid of Pitfoddells. With both we find that the Shandswere closely allied by marriage. The arms of the former family were, Gules, a dexter hand couped, feeways, and there upon a hooded hawk perched or, on a chief argent, three mullets of the first. The Reids gave two coats, quarterly, first and third, Argent, a chevron azure, betwixt two mullets and a cross crosslet fitche gules: second and fourth, Stewart. After what has been already said on the subject, it may be considered a mere accidental circumstance that Robert de Shandos, temp. Henry III, carried stars. – Boutell’s Heraldry, 1863.

(From Appendix - Provost Gilbert Menzies’Secretary: - The immediately preceding Provost, Thomas Menzies, had for his “servand”, “Maister Johne Fulisurd, sumtyme ane quhitt freir in Aberdene,” who “departit” 20th May 1576. – Book of Bon-Accord, p45.)

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