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Surname Books


Scottish Surnames

Is your name
MacDonald ?
Anderson ?
Cullen ?
Wilson ?
MacNeil ..............?

If so, then your ancestry is Scottish and you may not know that in Scotland, whoever joined a particular clan, no matter what his position or descent, assumed the surname of his chief. This was accepted as an act of loyalty. It did not necessarily follow that all who bear the same surname are descended from a common ancestor. As an example of the origin of a surname, here is an account for the name of Forbes. One Achonacher came from Ireland to Scotland about the end of the 12th century, and having slain a monstrous wild boar, took the name of For-bear, afterwards turned to For-beas, and used a boar's head in his arms to commemorate the dead.

Scottish surnames divide themselves into two classes, Highland, and Lowland. In a very few instances they were assumed before the eleventh century, and indeed by far the larger proportion, since the thirteenth century.

They have originated in various ways; are derived from localities, as Maxwell, Nisbet, Ralston; baptismal names, as Anderson, Bennett, Lawrence; trades, as Baxter, Fletcher, Nasmyth; offices, as Bannerman, Grieve, Walker; professions, as Clerk, Freer, Kemp; peculiarities of body and mind, as Fairfax, Laing, May; armorial bearings, as Cross, Heart, Horn;
nativity, as Fleming, Inglis, Scott; and from many other sources.

Highland surnames are chiefly patronymics, with various prefixes and additions, as Farquhar, Mackenzie, Robertson ; but there are some exceptions, a few being derived from localities, as Lennox, Murray, Boss; a good number from peculiarities, as Cameron, Campbell, Grant; and some from armorial bearings, and offices, as Frazer, Skene, Stewart.

Lowland surnames having been adopted mainly through Norman influence, are most frequently local, such as Carmichael, Ridell, Rutherford; but many are derived from baptismal names, as Dickson, Henderson, Syme; from peculiarities, as Armstrong, Brown, Douglas; from armorial bearings, as Foulis, Heron, Lillie; from office, occu-pation, and trade, as Baillie, Hunter, Lorimer.

In Scotland, whoever joined a particular clan, no matter what his position or descent, assumed the surname of his chief, and this was accepted as an act of loyalty; it does not follow, therefore, that all who bear the same surname are descended from a common ancestor.

Originally, all surnames had a meaning, but in very many cases this has been lost because of the corruptions in spelling, for their orthography has only been fixed in the last two centuries. It is, therefore, probably impossible to render correctly the origin and signification of all Scottish surnames.

From the 1995 registers of births, marriages and deaths
The commonest surnames in Scotland were :

1 Smith
2 Brown
3 Wilson
4 Thomson
5 Robertson
6 Campbell
7 Stewart
8 Anderson
9 MacDonald
10 Scott

Scottish Names. An entertaining and informative guide to the names associated with Scotland and the people who have held them. When the time comes to find names for their children, Scots can call on a rich stock of colourful and romantic names. However, the influence of Scottish names goes far beyond the country itself. Over the centuries millions of Scots have left their homeland to find fame and fortune, and they have taken their Scottish names with them, so giving the world MacDonald's restaurants, Campbell's soup, and Ross from Friends. This entertaining and informative book explains the origins and meanings of first names and surnames that are either unique to Scotland or particularly associated with the country. In the course of tracing the histories of Bruce, Cameron, Campbell, Isla, Gordon, Murray, Stewart, and others, the author uncovers some fascinating facts about the Scottish people and their culture. Collins Scottish Names.

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