Scottish surnames have a very interesting history behind their origins. We will take a look at some of the most common Scottish last names and understand their meanings as well.
Did You Know?
The practice of using surnames came into existence around the 10th or 12th century, but it wasn't until the 15th or 16th century that it became a regular practice all over Scotland.
Before the practice of using surnames became prevalent, people used only their first names (forenames, as they were known in Scotland). However, this practice was soon replaced with using surnames along with the forename.
There are 4 theories that highlight how these surnames came into use. Some surnames were based on the geographical location―the place that the family resided in. Though the practice first started with the noblemen adopting surnames based on the location, soon everyone else had taken to this practice as well.
Certain other surnames were derived from baptismal or Christian names and indicated family relationship or descent. Though some surnames were passed down as they were, others changed with every generation, according to the name of the father. This practice continued till the 15th or 16th century, till a name was finally adopted and continued.
There were certain other surnames that came into existence based on the occupation of the family, while there were some others which were based on certain nicknames or certain character traits or physical features of a person.
List of Popular Scottish Surnames
The following is a list of the most famous Scottish surnames and their meanings.
♦ Anderson - Son of Andrew ♦ Aiken - Adam (Man) ♦ Allaway - Wild field ♦ Allen - Fair and handsome ♦ Armstrong - Strong arms ♦ Bateson - Son of Batte ♦ Black - Dark complexioned or dark haired
♦ Blair - Battlefield ♦ Boyd - From the Scottish island of Bute ♦ Boyle - Pledge ♦ Brown - Denoting color of skin or hair ♦ Bruce - From Brix, a city in Normandy ♦ Cameron - Crooked nose ♦ Campbell - Having a crooked or wry mouth ♦ Clark - Scholar, clerk, cleric
♦ Cruickshank - Bent legs ♦ Cummins - Descendant of Cuimin ♦ Cunningham - Rabbit home ♦ Davis - Son of David ♦ Donne - Person with brown hair ♦ Douglas - Dark river ♦ Duff - Dark ♦ Ewart - River enclosure
♦ Fairbairn - Beautiful child ♦ Faulkner - Falconer ♦ Ferguson - Son of Fergus ♦ Fleming - From Flanders ♦ Forbes - Field ♦ Forney - Someone who lives around ferns ♦ Fraser - Strawberry
♦ Gibson - Son of Gib ♦ Glenn - Valley ♦ Gordon - Spacious fort ♦ Graham - Gray home ♦ Grant - Grand, large, great, tall ♦ Gray - Man with gray hair ♦ Grieve - Farm manager ♦ Hamilton - Fortified palace ♦ Hay - High/Tall
♦ Hepburn - High burial mound ♦ Hill - Hill/Battle/Cheerful, glad ♦ Holme - Living in a fen/near a holly tree ♦ Hunter - Someone who hunted for a living ♦ Jardine - One who worked as a gardener ♦ Jones - Son of John
♦ Kerr - From a rough, wet ground ♦ Kidd - Young goat, kid ♦ King - Tribal leader ♦ Kyles - Person who lived by a strait ♦ Leslie - Garden of holly ♦ Lithgow - Pool, damp, hollow ♦ Logan - Little hollow ♦ Lusk - Cave ♦ Macangus - Son of Angus
♦ Macbeth - Son of life ♦ Maguire - Pale-colored ♦ Miller - Person who worked in a grain mill ♦ Moore - One who lived near a moor ♦ Murphy - Descendant of sea warrior ♦ Murray - Seaboard settlement
♦ Neil - Champion/Cloud ♦ Ness - Headland ♦ Norris - From the north ♦ Oliver - Olive tree ♦ Paterson - Son of Patrick ♦ Payne - Rustic/Villager ♦ Pottinger - Apothecary ♦ Quigley - Lovely
♦ Rattray - Fortress town ♦ Ready - From Reedie ♦ Reily - Gregarious ♦ Robertson - Son of Robert ♦ Rose - Person with rosy complexion ♦ Roy - Red-haired ♦ Russel - Someone with red hair or a red face
♦ Sangster - Singer/Song-maker ♦ Shaw - A clearing in the trees ♦ Simpson - Son of Sim ♦ Sinclaire - Pure, illustrious, renowned ♦ Smith - Blacksmith ♦ Stevenson - Son of Stephen ♦ Stewart - Manager at a noble's household ♦ Taggart - Son of the priest
♦ Thompson - Son of Thomp/Thom ♦ Trask - Person from Thirsk ♦ Underwood - Person who lives at the edge of the woods ♦ Wallace - Foreigner, stranger ♦ Wilson - Son of Will ♦ Wood - One who worked in a forest or wood ♦ Young - Young or youthful
It's rather interesting to note just how these surnames came to be, and how each one of them has a history and a rich meaning and derivation behind them.