Beattie Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Beattie Surname Meaning

Beattie and Beatty are names of Scottish and Irish origin.

In the Scottish case these names are diminutives or pet forms of the Bartholomew name that was popular since the time of the Crusades. Beattie became a well-known Border name, found on both the Scottish and English sides.  Most Beatties and Beattys in Ireland are of Scots origin. The name Beatty also arose in Ireland from the Gaelic occupational name betagh, meaning a public victualler.

The Beattie spelling is preferred in the UK. Both Beatty and Beattie occur in Ireland (Beattie shows up in Antrim and county Down, Beatty in Armagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh). It is mainly Beatty in America.

Beattie Surname Resources on The Internet

Beattie and Beatty Surname Ancestry

  • from Scotland (Borders) and Northern England
  • to Ireland (Ulster), America and Canada

Scotland. Batie or Beattie was a well-known Scottish border surname.

Borders. It was recorded as Batie in Berwick-on-Tweed as early as 1334. But Baty and Bateson were initially more names of Eskdale in Dumfriesshire. Adam Baty of Eskdale appeared in the 14th and again in the 15th century.

By the 16th century, there were numerous references to the Batie Border reivers operating out of their fortress homes in Eskdale. There were also Baties in Dumfries who appeared separate from these Border reivers in Eskdale. Sir John Batie was a prosperous burgess of the town at this time.

The Border pacification in the early 17th century resulted in many of these Beatties departing to Protestant plantations in Ireland.

Elsewhere. The Beattie name in Scotland was not confined just to the Borders. It seemed to have developed independently by the 16th century in Montrose, Fife, and Edinburgh.

The name for some reason was particularly common in the parish of Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire in the 18th century. James Beattie, the poet and moral philosopher, grew up in this parish, the son of a local shopkeeper and farmer.

Ireland. Scottish Beatties seem to have come first to county Fermanagh in Ulster. The 1631 muster roll in Fermanagh listed a number of Beattys with other Scottish Border families.  “It was Fermangh’s remoteness from Scotland and the consequent immunity from Scottish justice that it provided which rendered it particularly attractive to Borderers.”

From Fermanagh Beattys moved out into other Ulster counties. The name today is found mainly in south Antrim and north Down.

Betagh had become an Irish surname in county Meath by the 16th century and then spread to neighboring counties. The 19th century surgeon Thomas Edward Beatty, whose mother was a Betagh, came from a Cavan family. Admiral David Beatty, the British naval commander during World War One, was from a well-known Wexford family.

England. Beatties in England have come from the border area with Scotland and were to be found mainly in the counties of Cumberland and Northumberland.

One Beattie history traces back to George Beattie, a stonemason, who was born in Clatton, Northumberland in 1787. His family built many of the farmhouses and railway stations in the area during the 19th century.

Another Beattie family were stonemasons in Carlisle (they still operate there today). John Beattie, born in Bewcastle near Carlisle, became a successful draper in Newcastle and was elected its mayor in 1900.

America. A large proportion of the Beattys in America are of Scots Irish origin.

Scots Irish.  The earliest arrival was possibly John Beatty from county Antrim who came to Kingston in upstate New York sometime in the 1680’s. His grandson Colonel William Beatty became one of the civic leaders in Frederick county, Maryland – being a magistrate and member of the local legislature. He and his wife Elizabeth raised sixteen children. The family farmhouse, now known as the Beatty-Cramer House, has been preserved.

John Beattie, fleeing Ulster in the 1740’s because of religious persecution, came also to Maryland, but soon moved onto the mountainous area of SW Virginia (now Washington county). Son William, who fought in the Revolutionary War, died in 1860 at the ripe old age of a hundred. His grandson Fount survived the Civil War and lived onto 1923.

In the 1740’s also, there were three Beatty families in the Piedmont region of North Carolina:

  • William Beatty who lived in Rowan county near Salisbury.
  • Francis Beatty who settled in Mecklenburg county.  He is commemorated today by the Colonel Francis Beatty Park in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • and John Beatty the pioneer who crossed the Catawba river and built his home on its west bank.

Warren Beatty’s ancestors came from Ireland and settled in Warren county, Virginia in the late 1700’s.

Canada. Willliam and Ann Beatty, reportedly Scots Irish, emigrated from county Cavan with their family to Thorold in Ontario in 1835. William and his son James got involved in the lumber business, building or acquiring a number of sawmills. James had built the United Empire, the largest wooden boat then operating on the Upper Lakes.

William Beatty, also from Cavan, came to Canada with his family in the 1870’s and headed west, settling in Oxbow, Saskatchewan. His son George later moved further west to Vancouver.

Frank Beattie was also in the Canadian West by this time. He was operating hotels in Banff, Alberta and British Columbia in the 1880’s. Son Arthur ran the Hot Billiard parlor, newsstand and restaurant in Banff until around 1935.

Beattie and Beatty Surname Miscellany

Beattie and Beatty.  The Beattie spelling is preferred in the UK, both Beatty and Beattie occur in Ireland, and it is mainly Beatty in America.  The table below shows the approximate numbers today.

Numbers (000’s) Beattie Beatty
UK   18    2
America    4    9
Elsewhere   12    6

The Batie Border Reivers.  In 1588 John Batie of the Score formed an alliance with Jock Armstrong.  Raising an army of 500 men they launched a foray into England and carried off 660 cattle, 600 sheep, 35 prisoners, and assets worth £40 sterling.

Beattys in the 1631 Muster Roll in County Fermanagh.  The Armstrong and Beatty names appeared most frequently in the 1631 muster roll of Scottish undertakers in Fermanagh.  The Armstrong name occurred 41 times, the Beatty name 36 times.  Particular Beatty concentrations were:

  • the Castlehalfour estate of Lord James Balfour, ten Beattys
  • the estate of Sir Gerrard Lowther, nine Beattys
  • the Knockballymore estate of the Archdeacon of Ardagh, five Beattys
  • and the Churchlands estate of Lady Brewerton, four Beattys

Some Beattys were recorded as bearing arms, sword or pike or both, and some not.

The Beatties of Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire.  The name of Beattie was almost bewildering to one who consulted the parochial records of the 18th century. Nearly every farm in the parish was at one time or another in the hands of a Beattie and several families of the name appear in the earliest records of the village.  There was one particular distinction of these Beatties, that they were divided between the “rich Beatties” and the “poor Beatties.”

Three lines of Beatties have been traced with a reasonable amount of accuracy from the close of the 17th century.  One of these lines included the poet James Beattie, born in 1735 at the Mill of Haulkerton where his father was a tenant.  These Beatties were noted for their pedestrian feats.  James’s sister Catherine had once walked the whole way to Edinburgh from Beattie Lodge in Laurencekirk.

John Beatty, North Carolina Pioneer.  John Beatty was the pioneer who in 1749, according to the date of his land grant, crossed the Catawba river and the first man to set foot in what was to become Lincoln county, North Carolina.

The ford where John Beatty crossed still bears his name, Beatty’s Ford.  He built his home on the west bank above the ford in the shade of the hillside.  He also built a meeting house for the other Scots Irish Presbyterians who were to be found in the area.

John and his wife Elizabeth were to raise five children by Beatty’s Ford.  Two of his sons died young, John being killed while scouting and Charles being scalped by Indians.

“The story goes that one of the Beattys went into the range in search of his cattle.  He was discovered and pursued by the Indians.  Within a mile of home he concealed himself in the hollow of a large chestnut tree.  The bark of his little dog, however, disclosed his hiding place and cost him his scalp and his life.”

Thomas, the eldest son, was still living when their father died in 1774.  Perhaps Thomas already had his own place by that time.  John left his homestead to Thomas’s son and his grandson William.

The Beatty-Cramer House.  One of the oldest known structures in Frederick county, Maryland, the Beatty-Cramer house was built as a 20-foot-by-40-foot, H-bent timber frame building in the early 18th century Dutch Colonial style, a rarity in Maryland.

The exact construction date is unknown, though Susanna Beatty, a wealthy landowner from Ulster county New York moved there with her family in 1732, 13 years before Frederick was settled.  When Beatty, already a widow for 11 years, bought the thousand acres surrounding the house for four shillings an acre, the purchase made her one of the first women to own land in Maryland.

The original structure had probably been used as a commercial space, either a tavern or a meeting house.

Beattie and Beatty Names

  • James Beattie was a prominent Scottish academic and writer of the late 18th century.
  • Chester Beatty was an American known as the “king of copper” for his mining success in Colorado. He was also a highly regarded collector of Oriental art and books.
  • David Beatty was the British admiral at the Battle of Jutland in the North Sea in 1915.
  • Warren Beatty is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, and director. His sister is the actress Shirley MacLaine.

Beattie and Beatty Numbers Today

  • 20,000 in the UK (most numerous in Belfast)
  • 13,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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