Henry James Lee.

History of the Scott family online

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Copyright 1919
R. L. POLK & Co. Inc.


Chapter I 7

Origin of the name of Scott Early History Buc-
cleuch "The Buck in the Cleuch" Auld Wat o' Har-
den Sir Michael Scott The Wizard of the North.

Chapter II 20

The Cradle of the Race The Family and the Border
Feuds "Ready, aye, Ready" Sir John Scott of
Thirlestane "Mount for Branxholm."

Chapter III 30

Branches of the Scott Family Records of the
Different Branches Lord Chancellor Eldon and
Baron Stowell Sir Walter Scott.

Chapter IV 46

Early American History of the Family Arrival of
the First Scotts in America Story of the Early
Settlers Three Adventurers for Virginia Richard
Scott Lands at Boston Scott of Long Island.

Chapter V 56

The Scotts in Revolutionary Times From the Revo-
lution to the Civil War Civil War Records.

Chapter VI 74

The Scott Family in the United States.

Chapter VII 97

Lines of Descent in Scotland and England Heads
of the Family Notable Scotts in the British Empire.

Chapter VIII 112

Armorial Bearings Ancestral Seats.


LL races of men seem to have an intuitive
feeling that it is a subject of legitimate
pride to be one of a clan or family whose
name is written large in past history and
present affairs. Everybody likes to know something:
about his forefathers, and to be able to tell to his chil-
dren the tales or stories about their ancestors, which
he himself has heard from his parents. The command-
ment, "Honor thy father and thy mother," is good
and sufficient authority for that feeling of reverence
which is so generally shown towards a line of
honorable ancestry. The history of the family was
a matter of much importance to the Greek and
Roman; the Chinese go so far as to magnify such
reverence into ancestor worship and even the Red
Indian of our own Northwest recorded the tradi-
tions of his ancestors on the totem of his tribe.
Well, then, may the story of the chivalry, courage
and even lawlessness (so often the mate of cour-
age) of their forefathers find a responsive echo
in the hearts of Scotts of the present generation.
It is not intended in this "History of the Scott
Family" to attempt any genealogical investigation
or show any family tree, but rather to tell of those
bygone Scotts in whose achievements and history
it is the common heritage of all who bear the name
to take pride and interest old stories of Scotts
of reckless bravery, of Scotts who were good and
true friends and of Scotts who were fierce and


6 History of the Scott Family

bitter enemies stories of Scotts who fought hard,
lived hard and died as they fought and lived. Those
olden days may seem a time of scant respect for
law, of misdirected chivalry and of brave deeds,
often wrongly done, but there is surely no true
Scott who, in his inmost heart, is not proud to
claim descent from a family whose ancient records
are replete with such traditions ; whose later records
tell of those early adventurers who left their native
hills and dales for the new land of promise and
whose descendants have, in more prosaic times,
earned honors in literature, arms and art. "It is
wise for us to recur to the history of our ancestors.
Those who do not look upon themselves as links
connecting the past with the future do not fulfill
their duty in the world."


HE surname Scott is of great antiquity
and authorities differ as to the origin
of the name. The theory of Professor
Innes, in relation to the original name
of Scot or Scott in Scotland, was that long before
surnames were known, the people of that country
received the appellation of Scotus or Scot in addi-
tion to their former name, thus plain Robert became
Robert Scot and reared a family who retained the
name of their ancestor. This especially may have
been so with those who wandered from Scotland into
other countries, and who became known as Robert
the Scot, David Scotus as the case might be.

Other historians claim that the name of Scot-
land itself was derived from the family name; in
fact, claim that a family of primitive gypsies gave
a name to the country in which it located instead
of a country giving a surname to divers wanderers
from its borders.

In support of this theory Boethius, Vermundus,
Cornelius and Scaliger claim that the name of Scott
originated from Scota, the daughter of the Pharaoh
who was drowned in the Red Sea. The story told
in support of this origin of the name follows : Ga-
thelus, a son of Cecrops, King of Athens, being ban-
ished from that kingdom, fled to Egypt with a large
band of followers. This was in the time of Moses,
and Pharaoh being engaged in war was glad to


8 History of the Scott Family

accept the aid of the followers of Gathelus, whom he
made a general of the combined forces. The enemy
nations were subdued and as a reward Pharaoh
gave his daughter Scota in marriage to the vic-
torious Gathelus. Later Gathelus and Scota, with
a goodly following, escaping from the plagues in
Egypt, fled to Spain, naming that portion of the
country Port Gathale which is now known as Portu-
gal. Here Gathelus gave to his followers the name
of "Scottis" from the love he bore his wife Scota.
After years of war with the natives of Spain these
nomad "Scottis" once more set sail and landed in
Ireland, from whence they afterwards went over to
the northern part of the adjacent island of Britain,
naming the country Scotland or the land of the

This theory of the origin of the name is treated
by many historians as fabulous, but Geoffrey Keat-
ing, the Irish antiquary, claims that the followers of
Gathelus and Scota landed in Ireland A. M. 2736 (B.
C. 1303) ; and a number of ancient antiquaries and
historians agree that the name of Scott is derived
from the Egyptian Scota. An interesting point in
this connection is the entry found in the Psalter of
Cashel as follows: Heber Scot, son of Seru, son
of Easru, son of Gadelas, son of Niul, son of Feniusa-
Farsa, son of Baath, son of Magog, son of Japhet.
The name of Scot within seven generations of the

Among the very early records of persons bearing
the name are those relating to two natives of Scot-
land named John and Clement, who are mentioned
as being in Paris in the time of Charlemagne. Al-
though no authority is found enabling the exact

History of the Scott Family 9

date to be established, the fact that John or Johannes
was an instructor of Charlemagne fixes the time
about the middle of the eighth century. Scott of
Sachells, a worthy son of the border, writing in
1686 his lengthy and poetical defence of the clan,
relates the following as to John and Clement:

"A thousand years if I do not forget

By chronicles I'll prove the name of Scot.

In King Achaius time, that worthy prince,

John and Clement Scots they went to France;

In Paris they at first began,

In Charles the Great his time

To instruct the Christian religion."

And Buchanan, in his History of Scotland, confirms
the historical facts of Sachells, and asserts that
Charles the Great of France sent to Scotland for some
learned and pious men "among whom was Johannes
surnamed Scotus." Buchanan also mentions him
as the instructor of Charlemagne and Clement as a
learned professor in Paris at that time.

The first occurrence of the name of Scott in writ-
ings now preserved seems to be "Uchtred Filius
Scoti" among the witnesses to a charter to the Ab-
bacy of Selkirk, granted by David I who was on the
throne of Scotland from 1124 to 1153. Uchtred had
one son, Richard, who was the father of two sons,
Richard the elder being the ancestor of the Buc-
cleuch family and from the younger son, Sir Michael,
the Scotts of Balwearie are descended. Following
the line of descent of Richard, the elder son, we
find Sir Richard who acquired the estates of Mur-
dieston by marriage with the heiress in 1296 and
who died in 1320. His son Michael had two sons,
Robert and Walter of Synton. The latter was the

10 History of the Scott Family

ancestor of the Scotts of Harden of whom more will
be told later. Robert's great-grandson Sir Walter
was the father of two sons, Sir David of Branxholm
and Alexander of Howpaisley. From the younger
son was descended Francis of Thirlestane who was
created a Baronet in 1666 and was the father of
Sir William the second Baronet. Sir William, on
his marriage with the Mistress of Napier assumed
that name and from him is descended the present
representative, Francis Edward Basil Baron Napier
and Ettrick of Thirlestane, Selkirk. Sir David
Branxholm, the elder son of Sir Walter, had two
sons, David, whose great-great-grandson Sir Walter
was created Baron Scott of Buccleuch in 1606 and
Robert, ancestor of the Scotts of Scotstarvit.

Tradition gives the following romantic origin of
the name Buccleuch, which name had, long prior
to the creation of the title, been closely associated
with the name of Scott. Two brothers, banished
from Galloway, came to Ettrick Forest where they
were gladly received by Brydone, the keeper of
the forest, on account of their skill in forestry
and the chase; the hunting horn formerly borne in
the field of the Buccleuch arms alluding to this fact.
Kenneth MacAlpine, King of Scotland (844-860),
coming to hunt in Ettrick Forest and pursuing a
buck from Ettrick Heugh to a glen, afterwards
known as Buckscleugh, found the stag at bay. The
King and his companions of the chase following on
horseback were thrown out by the steepness of the
hill, and John, one of the Galloway brothers, follow-
ing the stag on foot, seized the buck by the horns,
threw him on his back and carrying him up the
hill, laid the buck at the feet of the King. This

History of the Scott Family 11

incident is told in Watt's Bellenden, after describing
the killing and "curee'ing" of the deer:

"The King did wash into a dish
And Galloway John he wot;
He said "Thy name now after this
Shall ever be called John Scott."

* * * *

"And for the buck thou stoutly brought
To us up that steep heugh
Thy designation ever shall
Be John Scott in Buckscleugh."

Their name and style the book doth say
John gained them both into one day."

The first Baron Scott of Buccleuch died 1611, be-
ing succeeded by his son Walter, whose title was
raised to Earl of Buccleuch in 1619. He was fol-
lowed by his son Francis, referred to by Sir Walter
Scott in "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" as "The Good
Earl Francis dead and gone." His death occurred in
1651, leaving two daughters, Mary and Anne. Mary,
Countess of Buccleuch, married Walter Scott of
Highchester, a scion of the house of Harden, who
was granted the life title of Earl of Tarras. Mary
died without issue and was succeeded in the title
by her sister Anne, Countess of Buccleuch. Anne
had been brought up in the massive square tower on
the banks of the Yarrow known as Newark Castle,
which was chosen by Sir Walter Scott as the "stately
tower" wherein the wandering harper recited to her
the story told in "The Lay of the Last MinstreL"
Anne married James, Duke of Monmouth, natural
son of Charles II and on their marriage they were
created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. The Duke

12 History of the Scott Family

of Monmouth was beheaded in 1685. He had two
sons, James, Earl of Dalkeith, and Henry, who in
1706 was created Earl of Deloraine. The title Delo-
raine came from the lands of Deloraine which
marched with those of Buccleuch in Ettrick Forest
and had from time immemorial been in possession
of the Scotts of Buccleuch, and granted by them to
kinsmen for Border services rendered. Among such
kinsmen was William of Deloraine, "Good knight and
true of noble strain" between whom and Richard of
Musgrave was arranged the trial by single combat
at Branksome. The Earldom of Deloraine became
extinct on the death of the fourth Earl in 1807.

James, Earl of Dalkeith, the above named son
of the Duke of Monmouth and Anne, Countess of
Buccleuch, having died in the lifetime of his father,
his son Francis became the second Duke of Buc-
cleuch. Henry, the grandson of Francis, followed
as third Duke and succeeded also to the Dukedom
of Queensberry. He had two sons, Charles the
elder and fourth Duke, and Henry, who became
by succession Baron Montagu, whose line is now
represented by Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. The
grandson of Duke Charles was William, sixth Duke
of Buccleuch, who died in 1914 and was succeeded
by his son John Charles, the present and seventh

To return to Walter Scott of Synton previously
mentioned as ancestor of the Scotts of Harden. This
family, however, trace their descent from a still
earlier younger of a Scott, who, prior to the mar-
riage of Sir Richard with the heiress of Murdieston,
was a laird of Buccleuch. Hence they bear the
cognizance of the Scotts upon the field :

History of the Scott Family 13

"Azure in a golden field

The Stars and crescent graced his shield

Without the bend of Murdieston."

Whereas, those of the Buccleuch family are dis-
posed upon a bend dexter assumed in consequence
of the Murdieston marriage. Walter of Synton was
the ancestor of Walter of Harden, a celebrated bor-
der reiver during the time of Queen Mary and re-
nowned in Border tradition as "Auld Wat," who
succeeded his father as Laird of Harden in 1563. He
married the beautiful Mary Scott of Dryhope, known
as "The Flower of Yarrow," a condition of the mar-
riage being, that for a year and a day after mar-
riage, the bride's father was bound to provide for
Wat at the Tower of Dryhope ; Harden on his part
agreeing to give Dryhope the profits of the "first
Michaelmas moon." His castle upon the brink of
a dark and precipitous glen was the storehouse
of the fruits of many a raid across the border,
the spoil from which served for the maintenance of
a large body of followers. Auld Wat has himself
left record that the Flower of Yarrow was "a curi-
ous hand at pickling the beef he stole;" and the
service of a pair of clean spurs on the usually well-
provided platter was notice to his retainers that the
time had again arrived to sally forth a-reiving. The
story is told that on one occasion the live stock had
become so low as to be referred to, in Wat's hearing,
as "Harden's coo." "By my faith," said Wat
"they'll soon say Harden's kye."

"The Michaelmas moon had entered then

And ere she wan the full
Ye might see by her light in Harden's glen

A bow of kye and a bassened bull."

14 History of the Scott Family

Auld Wat had a keen eye for business. When five
of his stalwart sons flew to arms to avenge the
death of a brother, slain in a fray by the Scotts
of Gilmanscleugh, Auld Wat locked them in the
dungeon of his castle, hastened to Edinburgh,
where he stated his case, and obtained the lands of
Gilmanscleugh as compensation. He returned to
Harden with the charter, releasing his sons with an
order "To horse, lads, and let's take possession.
The lands of Gilmanscleugh are well worth a dead

William, Wat's eldest son, apparently followed in
the f oosteps of his father, for he was captured "lift-
ing" the cattle of Murray of Elibank and condemned
to be hanged on the Elibank gallows tree, an ap-
panage of every well-equipped border stronghold.
It happened, however, that the house of Elibank in-
cluded a marriageable daughter, Agnes, who re-
joiced, or otherwise, in the descriptive name of
"Muckle-Mouthed Meg." William was given the
choice between the gallows tree and a wife and chose
what seemed to him the lesser evil, securing his life
and liberty by a marriage with Meg. Another and
more romantic version of William's marriage tells of
his refusal to wed the unseen Muckle-Mouthed Meg
as an alternative to hanging and of how Meg, posing
as the gaoler's daughter whose duty it was, each
morning, to take the prisoner his can of porridge,
won the bold reiver's heart. Browning records that
William, while actually under the gallows tree, ob-
stinately refusing marriage with Meg, is answered
by the supposed gaoler's daughter:

' "Not Muckle-Mouthed Meg! Wow the obstinate
Perhaps he would rather wed me !"

History of the Scott Family 15

"Ay would he with just for a dowry your can!"
"I'm Muckled-Mouthed Meg," chirruped she.'

They had five sons, Sir Walter Scott, the author,
being descended from their third son, Walter of
Raeburn, who, not to be outdone by others in the
family, had a descriptive name, "Watty Wudspurs."
The Scotts of Raeburn are also descended from

The eldest son of William and Meg, also named
William, died without issue; the second son, Sir
Gideon, was the father of Walter, Earl of Tarras,
who, as before mentioned, married Mary, Countess
of Buccleuch and whose great-grandson by a second
marriage, Hugh, succeeded to the Barony of Pol-

To return to Sir Michael, the second son of
Richard, and grandson of Uchtred Filius Scoti. This
Sir Michael was the great-grandfather of that most
remarkable character, Sir Michael Scott, the wizard,
who was born during the reign of William the Lion,
King of Scotland 1165-1214. His birthplace is un-
certain, but was probably in upper Tweeddale, the
cradle of the Scott family. After attending the
Cathedral School at Durham and studying at Oxford
he took Holy Orders in Paris; thence he went to
the famous law school at Bologna and later to
Palermo, where he was appointed tutor to Prince
Frederick, afterward the Emperor Frederick II.
After studying alchemy, astrology and chiromancy
in Spain, Sir Michael returned to Palermo as Court
Astrologer. According to tradition it was about
this time that "the Veil of the future seemed to be
lifted" to him and he foretold many direful happen-
ings. His fame spread as a skilful magician, and

16 History of the Scott Family

Dante in the "Inferno" refers to him as "Michele
Scotto," a renowned wizard. In 1230, he returned
to Scotland, his skill in the black arts having pre-
ceded him and it being generally accepted that he
had sold his soul to the Devil. It is told of Sir
Michael that he evoked a fiend in the shape of a
black horse on which he flew through the air. On
this demon horse he flew to Paris on an embassy
to obtain certain concessions from the Bang of
France, who received him coldly and was about to
deny his request, when Michael besought him to
delay such refusal until he had seen the horse stamp
three times. The first stamp caused the bells to
ring in every steeple; the second shook the palace
so violently that three towers fell in ruins and to
avoid a third stamp the King agreed to all Sir
Michael's terms.

Sir Michael took up his abode at Oakwood Tower,
upon the River Ettrick, where he soon learned of
the fame of a neighboring sorceress, known as the
Witch of Falsehope, living on the other side of the
Ettrick. Michael resolved to put her powers of
witchcraft to the test and riding to Falsehope en-
tered her house alone, leaving his servant and grey-
hounds on the threshold. The reputed witch stead-
fastly denied any knowledge of necromancy. While
talking with her, Sir Michael had carelessly laid his
wand on the table ; the witch snatched up the wand
and struck Sir Michael with it, instantly changing
his external appearance to that of a hare. Sir
Michael's servant, waiting without, observing the
hare scurrying from the house, at once slipped
the greyhounds who pursued him so closely to
the Tower of Oakwood that the wizard was com-

History of the Scott Family 17

pelled to take ground in a culvert, where he gained
time to reverse the charm and return of his own

This could not pass unavenged and accordingly
Sir Michael, with his servant and dogs, rode to a
hill above Falsehope, from whence he dispatched
his servant to the Witch, requesting food for the
dogs; at the same time giving full instructions as
to the course to pursue if such request were refused.
It being harvest the old woman was baking bread
for the harvesters and returned an angry refusal
to the servant, who, thereupon, following his mas-
ter's orders, affixed above the door a paper with many
cabalistic signs and the following rhyme:

"Maister Michael Scott's man
Sought meat and gat nane."

The magic worked instantly and the woman began
to dance madly round and round the fire, repeating:

"Maister Michael Scott's man
Sought meat and gat nane."

She was powerless to stop and the dance con-
tinued until the husband dispatched the harvesters,
one after another, to ascertain what had delayed his
wife sending the mid-day meal to the harvest-field.
Each messenger, as he entered the house, fell victim
to the charm and joined in the dance and song.
Round and round the fire the wife and the harvesters
danced, unceasingly chanting the rhyme. The old
man himself at last came, but remembering the trick
his wife had served Sir Michael, and becoming sus-
picious, cautiously looked through the window be-
fore entering the house. Seeing the madly dancing

18 History of the Scott Family

company and gathering from the words of the
chant the author of the charm, he hastened to the
Wizard, humbly begging a cessation of the spell.
This Sir Michael good naturedly granted, at the
same time giving the old man directions to return
to his home and break the spell by entering the
house backwards and taking the paper from over
the door with his left hand. On this being done,
the spell ceased and the dance ended.

The soul of Sir Michael having, according to pop-
ular belief, been sold to the Devil, the time arrived
when Satan at last came to claim his own. The
Wizard, however, insisted that by the terms of the
bargain three things were to be done before the
bond be paid. Of these three works two appear to
have been performed. First a cauld to be made
across the rapid tumbling waters of the Tweed, and
the cauld, still to be seen, at Kelso Mill attests the
enduring quality of His Satanic Majesty's handi-
work. Secondly Eildon Hill to be rent in three;
"Eildon's triple height" remains, to-day, a testi-
mony. But the third to weave ropes of the sea
sand at the mouth of Tweed seems yet unaccom-
plished; Tweedmouth's ever shifting sands being
evidence of the yet uncompleted work of the powers
of darkness.

It remains to tell of the death and place of burial
of the Wizard, concerning both of which tradition
varies. One version of his end tells how his wife,
or mistress, having treacherously learned that his
magic could ward off all danger save that of the
poison of a broth made of the flesh of a "breme" sow,
administered such a broth to Sir Michael who died
after eating it. Another version is that "the veil

History of the Scott Family 19

of the future" having been lifted to him, he could
foretell that his death would be caused by the fall
of a stone. To avert such an end, it is told that he
wore constantly a steel helmet; but in vain, for being
at Mass and raising his helmet on the elevation of
the Host a stone fell from the roof, killing him as
he knelt.

His place of burial is by some claimed to be at
Holme Cultram in Cumberland ; while others, includ-
ing Sir Walter Scott, claim that his grave is in the
transept of Melrose Abbey.

The first name of Scott to be found in English
history is that of John Scott, who was Earl of
Chester, born 1206. Other early instances of the
name in England are those of Sir Peter Scott, first
Mayor of Newcastle and Sir Nicholas Scott, his son.
Also Thomas Scott, afterwards Archbishop of York,
born 1424 at Rotherham or Rotheram, Yorkshire, the
name of Rotheram being assumed by him in place
of his family name. He was Master of Pembroke
College, Cambridge, also Chancellor of the Uni-
versity and was successively Bishop of Rochester,
Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. He re-
ceived the red hat from the Pope with the title of
Cardinal Ste. Ceciliae. He became Lord Chancellor
of England in 1475, being known as Lord Chancel-
lor Rotheram. He founded Lincoln College, Oxford,
and died of the plague in the year 1500.


ROM the sands of Solway to the mouth of
Tweed, stretches that land of minstrelsy
and romantic story, the borders of Scot-
land. A land of far flung hills and swift
and rocky streams, of purple heather and of lonely
wastes where even today the silence of the tarn and
the moorland is broken only by the cry of the wild
fowl or the bleat of the black faced sheep. Within
this border land, in wood girt tower and crag
bound reiver stronghold, flanked by the ravines of

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Online LibraryHenry James LeeHistory of the Scott family → online text (page 1 of 8)