Chisholm Surname Genealogy

The Chisholm
said to have been
derived from a Norman French word “chese” meaning “to
choose” and the Saxon word “holm” meaning “meadow.”
The family became established initially at
Roxburgh near Kelso, once an important wool town in the Scottish

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Scotland. Through marriage,
Chisholm inherited Erchless Castle near Inverness in the early
century. This was to be the Chisholm
clan seat for the next five hundred years.
The lands in their
at this time were Strathglass and Ard and they later came into the
estate of
Comar, making them proprietors of a large part of Ross-shire. There was frequent clan fighting with neighboring
clans such as the

Chisholms were staunch Catholics and it might come as no surprise that
Roderick Chisholm led his clan in support of the Catholic “Old
Pretender” in 1715 and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. In this
they were defeated and, a
the Chisholms
continue as a landed family in their heartland until the end of the
century, it was the beginning of the end of the clan as a social force
Waves of emigration followed,
starting with these defeats and continuing with the Strathglass

in which
the clan chiefs actively participated.

Chisholms were not only to be found in the Highlands.
A Lowland name continued from the early family roots in Roxburgh
– often as Chisholme rather than Chisholm – in the Scottish border
life could be hard and, by the
18th century, many of these Chisholms had migrated north to
Edinburgh and
its environs.

Ireland. Some
Lowland Chisholms settled in
Ireland. Their name here became
Chism. Most of these Chisms were to be found in county Antrim.

Canada. The Chisholm migration to Canada in fact
predated the clearances. George Chisholm had left Croy for
America in
1773 and settled in Burlington Bay on the SW corner of Lake Ontario. He died there in 1840, a Chisholm loyalist to
the last, at the ripe old age of ninety. His son was William
founder of the town of Oakville, and his great great grandson, Brock
the first director of the World Health Organization.

Most of the Chisholms
evicted from their Highland tenancies ended up in Antigonish county in
Scotia. The first vessel with emigrants was the Nova which
arrived at Pictou in 1801. Donald Og Chisholm
came in 1803 and lived there until 1869.
He compiled a record of all the Chisholms who had emigrated to
Scotia during his time.

America. Early Chisolm arrivals in
America were, by
contrast, of the merchant/planter class, forming a network with other
Scottish-born planters based in Charleston in the South.
Their plantations on the
Sea Islands
flourished until the time of the Civil War. But other Chisholms in America, such as Jesse
Chisholm of the famed Chisholm Trail, were backwoodsmen and early

Australia. James Chisholm had come to
the colony in 1790
as a member of the NSW Corps to keep the peace. He decided to
stay and
ended up, by
1830’s, with vast sheep-rearing lands in the Goulburn district some 200
kilometers south of Sydney. The home that he and his son James
had built
there, Gledswood,
stayed with the
family over the next hundred years

Select Chisholm Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Chisholm Names

Alexander de
was the
earliest recorded Chisholm (from 1249).

Roderick Chisholm was the
Chisholm clan chief who led his men in the doomed rebellions of 1715
and 1745,
but survived with his life and his estates.

Caroline Chisholm, who
had married Capt. Archibald Chisholm in 1838 and moved to Australia,
housing and jobs for the young immigrant women who arrived there.

who was
born in Tennessee and built trading posts in western Oklahoma in the
gave his name to the Chisholm Trail, a cattle trail which stretched
southern Texas to Abilene in Kansas.

Brock Chisholm, from
Oakville in Ontario, was the first Director of the World Health
Organization in

Shirley Chisholm
from Brooklyn (of Jamaican origin) was the first black woman to sit in
the US House of Representatives.

Select Chisholms Today

  • 6,500 in the UK (most numerous
    in Durham)
  • 3,500 in America (most numerous
    in Florida).
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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