Grant Surname Genealogy

Grant is a Scottish clan name. Its origins here have been
disputed and various
theories have been suggested
. A Norse origin
is now thought to be the most likely. This had always been part
of the Grant
oral tradition (with descent claimed from Olav Hemingsson of Norway in
the 11th century). Recent DNA analysis would support
a Norse connection.
The Grant name,
according to the Grant tradition, is thought to have come
from Sliabh Grianas, the name of a meadow above Aviemore in the
Scottish Highlands which was the first land in Scotland to be occupied
by the Grants. Grant appears to have been adopted as the clan
name sometime in the 12th century.The Grant name also appears, probably independently, in England and

Grant Resources on

Grant Ancestry

Members of clan Grant have owned land in the
Scottish Highlands in
Strathspey, at Stratherrick to the east
of Loch Ness, since possibly the middle of the 12th century.
Their support of Robert the Bruce enabled them to
secure these landholdings in the 14th century. Their base, Grant Castle
in Strathpey,
still stands; as does Ballindalloch castle, the home of the MacPherson

The Grants were not decimated, as were some other Highland clans, by
the convulsions which occurred during the 18th century. Many
Grants had supported the Lowland Covenanters and then took the English
side during the Jacobite uprisings (although some did take the other

Clan Grant was one of the
few clans not to be affected by the Highland clearances. The
so-called “Good Sir James” Grant built the town of Grantown-on-Spey for
the purpose of developing a textile industry in the north and thereby
preventing his kinsmen from emigrating. Some Grants did move
or leave. But more than half of the Grants in Scotland were still
to be found in the Highlands by the end of the 19th century.

The Grants of
Rothiemurchus still hold their lands around Aviemore; and other
branches of the
family hold lands in Strathpey. The
Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant came from the Rothiemurchus Grants, the
Hugh Grant from the Glenmoriston Grants.
His James Murray Grant forebears had distinguished themselves in
army, starting in 1856 in South Africa and culminating in 1940 in the
from Dunkirk.

Two Alexander Grants
fought on the losing Jacobite side in 1746:

  • one Alexander died at Culloden. But
    his son George rose to great prominence
    in India, as Chairman of the East India Company. George’s
    elder son Charles was made Baron
    Glenelg, his younger son Robert became Governor of Bombay.
  • another Alexander survived the defeat at
    Culloden, but had to flee to Banffshire where he was hidden from the
    English by
    a clan chief. His great grandson William Grant founded the Grant
    whisky business in the late 19th century. Grant
    descendants are now considered the third richest family in

England. The
Grants were not exclusively a Scottish
name. Richard le Grand was the Archbishop of Canterbury in
1229. A Grant family in Warwickshire produced John Grant, one on
the Gunpowder plotters. These Grants may have had Norman origins.

By the 18th century, the surname appeared
mainly in the south, in
(particularly in Diptford) and in Hampshire, and
London. But there were hardly any Grants to be found in East
Anglia or the Midlands where, it had been argued, Norman Grants had
migrated north to Scotland.

Later Grants in England may well have
gone the other way from Scotland. One such example was Robert
Grant, an early mentor of Charles Darwin, who had come from Scotland
founded the Grant zoological museum in London in 1827.

Ireland. There were also Irish Grants. Unlike
the Scottish Grants, these also seem to have been a Norman implant,
they being
among the Strongbow invaders in 1170.
The Grants became landowners at Iverk in county Kilkenny.
the Cromwellian confiscations, they moved onto Tipperary and

The 19th century saw an out-migration, to Canada, America, and
Australia. Many were sent to Australia as convicts. John
Grant narrowly escaped this fate, as the following entry reveals:

“John Grant, a United Irishman, was
arrested in 1798 and imprisoned in Geneva barracks, Waterford. His wife
Judith petitioned against transportation because they had six small
destitute children. On payment of a £50 fine and the swearing of
allegience, his sentence was voided.”

Within Ireland, Grants today are mainly to be found around Waterford
and in Shinrone in county Offaly.

America. Matthew Grant arrived from Devon in
1630 and became the town surveyor for Windsor, Connecticut. His
descendants moved, after the Revolutionary War, to
Pennsylvania and then to Ohio where Ulysses Grant, Lincoln’s General
and later American President, was born in 1822.

Whiskey was said to be his weakness. When Lincoln heard about
Grant’s habit, he was reported to have said: “Find out what brand he
drinks so I can give it to the rest of my generals.” Grant’s
in 1885 drew 1.5 million people on its six mile parade through New
City. He was buried there in Grant’s Tomb on Riverside

from Inverness was
exiled to America by Oliver Cromwell in 1650 and ended up living in
Maine as an indentured servant. Peter was one of the first
Scottish Grants to
show up in America and has many descendants living today.
A later Peter Grant left Berwick for
Farmingdale, Maine in 1790. His home
there, overlooking the Kennebec river, is still standing

Later Grant exiles were:

  • Ludovic
    , a Jacobite supporter
    during the 1715 uprising,
    who was captured, lost his lands, and then was banished from
    Scotland. He
    departed on the Susannah for
    South Carolina. There, in the rough-and-tumble of frontier life,
    he became a successful trader with the Cherokee Indians.
  • and William
    Grant who came to North Carolina after the Jacobite defeat in 1745 and
    married Daniel Boone’s sister Elizabeth.

Canada. There were
several Grants from Strathpey who became active in the Canadian fur
trade in the 1770’s (including Cuthbert Grant, an early trader in the
Canadian West). Captain John Grant, an Empire Loyalist, came to
Summerville, Novia Scotia, in 1784. His descendants lived there
until 1866.

Around that time, another Grant family from Nova
Scotia departed for Trinidad in the Caribbean where they started the
trading company T. Geddes Grant. This Trinidad company still

Australia. Early
Grant arrivals had been convicts.

John Grant had shot a London
lawyer in the buttocks and been sentenced to death at the Old
Bailey. His petition that it had been a crime of passion over a
woman led to
his sentence being reduced to life transportation. He arrived in
New South Wales with a harpsichord in 1803 and was one of the few
convicts to record his
impressions of the early colony (This
Beauteous, Wicked Place: Letters and Journals of John Grant, Gentleman

Another John Grant, this one
from Tipperary, was transported to New South Wales in 1811 for
attempting to shoot
his landlord’s son who had seduced his sister.
After receiving his conditional pardon in 1820, he crossed the
Mountains and made his home at Moyne Farm in Hartley where he was one
of the
early settlers. Interestingly, there was a family of Aboriginal
Grants from a
mixed race marriage or union that originated from Hartley.
Who the father was has been a matter of much

Select Grant Miscellany

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

Grant Names

Richard Le Grant was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1229.
Sir Ian Grant, sheriff of
Inverness in 1434, was the first authenticated chief of the Grant clan.
Charles Grant, the son of a
Jacobite killed at Culloden, joined the British East India Company and
rose to be its chairman.
B. Grant
was Lincoln’s General during the Civil War and later
American President.
James Grant was the Victorian
explorer who with John Speke discovered the source of the Nile.
Cary Grant the actor was born
in England Archie Leach.
Eddy Grant, the reggae artist,
made his name with the 1983 hit Electric
Hugh Grant is the English
actor of films such as Four Weddings
and a Funeral
and Notting

Select Grants Today

  • 63,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Falkirk)
  • 49,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 42,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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