Tour Scotland
Home Page


Click Here for: Scottish Cooking or Recipes
Best Scottish Books or Scottish Music
Small Group Tours Of Scotland

Ancestry Tours of Scotland



Scottish Surnames

Search for your Scottish Ancestors

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.

Popular Scottish
Baby Names
Baby Luck
Scottish Names

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.