The name Wemyss derives from the lands of Wemyss in Fife and the family of Wemyss claim descent from a younger son of the Pictish MacDuff, Earl of Fife who obtained the lands from his father about 1160. The name is a corruption of the Gaelic Uamh, meaning cave and indeed below the ruins of …

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The name Weir, like many lowland Scottish names, is of Norman origin from one or several of the places named Vere around the Calvados region of France. The word was introduced into Normandy by the Norsemen from their own word “ver” meaning a station. It appears that Ralph or Radulphus de Ver is the first …

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The name Wallace originates from the Old French word “waleis” meaning a “welshman”, although the Scottish form is thought to refer to a Strathclyde Briton. Early records show that the name was common in Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. The first record of the name was in 1160 when Richard Walensis witnessed a charter by Alan, son …

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The earliest reference to this name is William, tenant of Crestone in the county of Linlescu, in the Ragman Rolls of 1296. His seal bears the symbol of a large dog. Lord Glenconner derives from the family of Tennant of the “Glen” in Ayrshire. The Tennants are essentially a Lowland family who do not possess …

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Syme originates among the Boernicians of the border region of Scotland and England, where the name was derived from Simon, and meant son of Simon.


The name, which is the equivalent to Spence, means custodian, or dispenser, of the larder. The principal Scottish family claims descent from one of the ancient earls of Fife. In 1300 Henry de Spens of Lathallan, Fife died, and the lands were made into a barony in 1430.


The name Seton is said to derive from the village of Sai in Normandy although other explanations have been suggested (eg. from Tranent, a “sea-town”, an area owned by the Setons). Alexander Seton witnessed a charter of David I about 1150. His descendant Sir Alexander Seton joined Sir Glbert Hay and Sir Neil Campbell in …

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The origin of the name is obscure, but it is found in Renfrewshire from the 12th century and in 1246 Robert de Sempill, later a chamberlain of Renfrew, witnessed a charter to Paisley Abbey. His sons Robert and Thomas, who supported Robert the Bruce, were rewarded for their services with all the lands around Largs …

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The surname Russell is generally allied to the French Rosel and is probably connected to “rous”, red. The Russells of Aden in Aberdeenshire descend from one Rozel, Rosel or Russell, an English baron who accompanied Edward III of England at the siege of Berwick and at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 and decided …

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Scottish and northern English (pronounced ‘rennick’): habitational name from a place in Cumbria, so called from the Old English byname Hræfn (meaning ‘raven’) + wic ‘outlying settlement’.


The surname Rattray is derived from the barony of that name in Perthshire. According to tradition the Rattrays acquired their land from King Malcolm Canmore in the 11th century but the first record of the name is Sir Thomas of Rattray, who was knighted by Alexander III.


The Rankins were hereditary pipers to the MacLeans of Duart. After the Chiefs of Duart lost their possessions the Rankins became pipers to the Lairds of Coll (also MacLeans). The last of the Rankin hereditary pipers emigrated to Prince Edward Island. John MacCodrum the Uist Bard who flourished during the 18th century refers to the …

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Perthshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt), officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; it borders the counties of Inverness-shire …

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The name Oliphant came from the Norwegian name Holifard/Holifarth. David Holifard who came back north with King David I from whom he received lands in Roxburghshire. David Holifard saved the King’s life at the Battle of Winchester in 1141.


The name means ‘living by a moor or heath’. The future King Robert II married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Adam Mure of Rowallan, in 1346. Ten years later the marriage was challenged, possibly on the grounds of there being a degree of consanguinity between them, and a dispensation was sought from the Pope.