Innes Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Innes Meaning

The Innes surname is Gaelic in origin. One source is Scottish – from the Gaelic word inis, meaning “island” or “a piece of land between two river” – which gave rise to the barony of Innes in Moray in NE Scotland. Innes could also derive from the Gaelic personal name Aonghus, in modern form Angus.

Aonghus was an 8th century king of Scotland who gave his name to the county of Angus. This Aonghus gave rise to the Scottish surname MacInnes and to the Irish names Ennis and McGuinness.

Innes Resources on

Innes Ancestry

Scotland. Clan Innes
(pronounced “Innez”) claims descent from a Berowald, a Flemish knight
given the lands of Innes in Morayshire by the Scottish king in
1160. Berowald’s grandson, Sir Walter of Innes, was the first to
use the Innes name. Sir Robert Innes was an MP for Moray and made
baronet in 1625. He built Innes House in Morayshire, the
family home until 1767 when Sir James Innes went bankrupt and sold the
estate. A later Sir James was able to claim the vacant dukedom of
Roxburghe in 1812.

name crops up in the fishing village of Lossiemouth nearby. Apparently an Elizabeth Innes was tried for
witchcraft there in the 1600’s. Her
small cottage is now derelict. It was said that they used to take
witches to
Boar’s Head Point nearby and drown them there!

Another Innes family had acquired the lands of Balnacraig in
Aberdeenshire in
the 1600’s. However, loyalty to the Stuarts a century later
Father Lewis
being the Jacobite Secretary of State – resulted
the loss of their estates. Later on, an Innes family was among
founding families of Port Gordon on the
Moray Firth in Banffshire. Alexander Innes from Ruthven was
appointed its first Harbor master in 1797. These Innes were
shipowners, trawlermen and fishermen.

the Rev. Beroald Innes of Alves in Morayshire was the 17th century
forebear of emigrants – the Rev Robert Innes who embarked for Virginia
and Sir
Hugh Innes who later headed to the West Indies and made a fortune as a
. This Sir
Hugh Innes
became a wealthy MP and landowner who cleared out
his lands in
the NW Highlands for sheep in the early 19th century.

Gilbert Innes from Edinburgh became first cashier at the
Royal Bank of Scotland and established the family home at Stow in
Berwickshire in the 1750’s.
His son Gilbert

inherited the estate and went on to be director
of the bank for forty five years, from 1787 to 1832:

  • he became
    incredibly wealthy during that time, being described as “the richest
    commoner in Scotland.”
  • he had an amazing 67 illegitimate children
    from scores of different women.

He died unmarried in 1832 and his
large fortune was eventually claimed by his cousin William Mitchell, a
cashier at
the bank. Mitchell’s descendants, the Mitchell-Innes, acquired
their own estates and became well-known in the world of Scottish

Today the Innes family at Drumduan in Invernessshire are Scotland’s
biggest dairy farmers, with more
than 1,400 milking cows. The herd has been built up by Callum
Innes and his two sons over the past fifty years.

England. William Innes,
the son of an Edinburgh banker, was a wealthy 18th century West Indian
merchant who owned sugar plantations in Jamaica and lived in some
splendor at Grotes Place in Blackheath.

A later Innes of this
family, John Innes, was a London property developer often credited with
the development of Merton Park as an attractive suburb during Victorian
times. When he died in 1904 he bequeathed the John Innes Park to
the people of Merton and his will created the John Innes Horticultural

Caribbean. The Innes name is
associated with plantations
in Jamaica
in the late 18th century.
William Innes, a London slave trader, owned a number of Jamaican
plantations but probably never resided there. David
Innes owned the Mount Grace plantation. And
the family of Alexander Innes from
Aberdeen was also recorded in Jamaica at that time.

America. Two early
Inneses in America were:

  • Alexander Innes who had been brought over to America after the
    Scots’ defeat in 1650 at the Battle of Dunbar. He was released
    after a few years and moved to Block island on Rhode Island.
  • and the Rev. Robert Innes who came to Virginia with his brother
    in the 1750’s. Robert’s son Harry headed west and was the first
    federal judge of Kentucky in 1789. Their family history was
    narrated in Susan Innes Kitchen’s 1994 book Descendants of Rev. Beroald Innes.

Innes left the Highlands of Scotland for America in 1854 and came out
west, first stopping off in Chicago, then in Kansas, before moving to
Angeles where his shoe store prospered. The Daniel Innes House in
Heights, built in 1887, has been designated an LA landmark site.

Major Archibald
came to Sydney in 1822 as a soldier on a convict
ship. He invested in land and was one of Australia’s richest
colonists in the 1830’s. Glen Innes was named after him.
However, a credit squeeze bankrupted him in 1852. Frederick
Innes, the son of an army officer, came out to Tasmania from Edinburgh
in 1843. He rose to become Premier of Tasmania in 1872.

There was another early Innes family in Tasmania.  Charles Innes arrived from Invernessshire in 1853 and was a pioneer settler in NW Tasmania. –


Innes Miscellany

Innes House in Morayshire.  Innes House
was built between 1640 and 1653 on the barony of Innes by Sir Robert
Innes, the
20th chief of clan Innes.  The oldest
part of the house dates to the 15th century when it appeared on early
maps as
Innes Castle.

House has been
called “the tall white house of Innes.”
It is indeed a fine clean-cut stone mansion at the end of a
driveway.  The house still stands, having
recently been restored and renovated.

Father Lewis Innes’s Prayer Book.  Father Lewis
Innes, a priest of the
Catholic church, was one of three Innes of the
family who held the office of Principal of the Scots
College in Paris and were
connected after James II’s downfall with the exiled House of Stuart at
St. Germains.

Lewis was particularly close to James II and it is thought that
he was the author of the life of James
that was later compiled.  Lewis himself
died in
Paris in 1738.  Among his possessions then
was an antique silver case given to him by James II and a portrait of
Bonnie Prince Charlie as a young boy.

Prayer Book, dated 1685, has been preserved.
Family deaths were recorded there by his family, including:

  • November
    28, 1686 – James Innes, his
  • February
    28, 1744 – Thomas
    Innes, his brother
  • April
    29, 1752 –
    George Innes, his brother

by Mary
Innes, a much later member of the family:

  • February
    11, 1780 – James Innes, her
  • September
    15, 1808 –
    Alexander Innes, her uncle
  • November
    1815 – Lewis Innes, her father

Innes was a man of great determination who stayed at his post at the
College at the height of the French Revolution.
He was imprisoned and sentenced to be guillotined, but was saved
of the death of Robespierre on the day he was due to be executed.

Sir Hugh Innes at Lochalsh.  WealthyElgin
sheep farmer Sir Hugh Innes bought Lochalsh in the NW Highlands in 1801
six years later, had the land mapped out.
Tenant evictions started almost immediately.
People were initially moved to coastal
crofting settlements such as Ardnarff and Portachullin.
Soon the population there started to decline
as emigration proceeded in earnest.

Plockton is a former crofting village in the
area, known today
as the Jewel of the Highlands.  But the
history of the village belies its quaint appearance today.
It had been built by Sir Hugh Innes after he
had cleared his estates of tenants. He had encouraged the displaced
crofters to
fish.  But the herring soon deserted the
shores.  Plockton became known in Gaelic
as Baile na Bochdainn – the village
of the poor.

What Gilbert Innes Left.  Gilbert Innes
never married, but was said to have had 67 illegitimate children from
scores of
different women.  There was a poem,
apparently found in the trunk of a courtesan, which detailed his
fathering of
“67 bastards” and went on to state: “The acts of his whoredom
are written in the parish chronicles of Scotland.”

of these children, Robert Innes, wrote
this missive to his purported father:

drove me out of your house like a dog and told me you were no earthly
connection to me.  I know not for a
certainty that you are my father, but God knows and recollect that you
must die
and then the certainty will be known.
But recollect that without repentance there is no remission of
sin. Get
your soul pardoned and then you will be happy.”

Gilbert’s sister Jane did give Robert Innes some
money to set up a boatyard in Leith.  He
was so grateful that he named a boat and his youngest daughter after

Gilbert died in 1832, Jane inherited his
estate.  When she died seven years later,
there were many claimants to the fortune.
There was a brother Thomas, for instance, who had moved south to
the Welsh borders.  When he married there,
registrar had a problem with his name and Thomas Innes became Thomas
Hennis.  Many of his descendants ended up
in the Forest of Dean.

However, the
money eventually went to William Mitchell, a descendant of his eldest
sister Isobel.

Reader Feedback – From Innes to Hennis.  I came across your website in
my family history research and am very interested in the story
Thomas Innes who moved to the Welsh borders and ended up changing his
name from
Innes to Hennis because the registrar had a problem with his name.

One branch of my family originates from the
Forest of Dean and I have been able to trace this branch back to Thomas
I have found a record of a marriage between Thomas Hennis and Mary
Jenkins in 1752
and I believe my four times great grandmother was Alice Hennis (Thomas
Mary’s daughter).

There has always been
a story in the family that we were distantly related to the Innes
family and an
old relative who has since passed away told a tale of the ‘lost’ Innes
which ties in with the piece on your website.

I would love to know the origins of this piece and whether or not there
is any evidence to support the story that the Thomas Hennis mentioned
indeed originally Thomas Innes.

Laurie Brown (

Innes in Jamaica.  William Innes was a London merchant involved in the slave trade and had
plantations in Jamaica.  He died in 1795
in London and left no Innes descendants.
His plantations in Jamaica were left to George Mitchell, a

were Innes in Jamaica at this time.  The
Kingston parish churchyard in Jamaica
contains the following stone and inscription:

are deposited the remains of:

George Innes, who was killed in a duel on November 9, 1784, aged 22

William Innes, who died on July 11, 1791, aged 19

Peter Innes, who died on June 17 1801, aged 34

Hugh Innes, who died on October 6 1803, aged 40.

Gentlemen much respected, they were the sons of the late Alexander Innes Esq. of Aberdeen.  This stone is inscribed to their memory by their afflicted mother.”

Alexander Innes and his father had borrowed money to start up
a new venture in Jamaica.  But the
business fared badly and Alexander had died young.

there was a Daniel Innes, owner of the
Mount Grace plantation in Hanover from 1798 to 1817.
It was reported that Mrs. Mary Innes died at
Mount Grace in 1830 at the great age of 110 years (some reports have it
as 120).

Reader Feedback – Innes in Jamaica.  There was William Innes the elder and William Innes the younger.

Innes the elder held lands at Williamsfield, Innes Bay, Manchioneal,
and St. Thomas in the East.  He had been
granted lands by 1750.  He and his wife
Janet had the following issue:

  • Elizabeth who married Charles Bryan of
    Long Bay
  • Margaret who married James
    McViccar of Affleck and Edinghame
  • and William
    the younger (1757 – 1808/9) who married Selina Chambers.  They
    had two daughters – Selina and Lavinia.

Harrison (

The Funeral of Major Innes.  Major Archibald
Innes died in Newcastle, NSW in 1857, a much respected man despite the
straightened circumstances of the latter years of his life.  It was said that his funeral was attended by
almost every one of note in the district and by many from a distance.  The places of business were closed and the
appearance of the town testified to the popular respect entertained
towards the

As the deceased was a very old
colonist and filled a high position in another sphere in times past, a
notice of his connection with the colony was given in the local reports:

Innes arrived in this colony in the
year 1821 with his regiment the 3rd Buffs.
When that regiment subsequently proceeded to India he retired
from the
army, having about that period suffered from a tedious illness during
which his
life had more than once been despaired of.

afterwards became police magistrate of Parramatta but resigned that
appointment and settled down as a squatter at Port Macquarie.  For many years subsequently he was
distinguished by the vastness of his operations in pastoral pursuits.  By him many of the most valuable squattages
in the northern districts were first occupied.
During his residence at Lake Innes he was distinguished by the
hospitality which is still widely remembered, all who came within its
being entertained with a liberality and elegance of style not often
equaled in
the colony.

When that “nipping
frost” came which then blighted so many fair prospects in this colony,
Major Innes suffered in common with others.
Most of his extensive property was made the sacrifice of a panic
spared no one.  For the last four years
Major Innes has held the appointment of police magistrate at Newcastle,
his kind and obliging manners and painstaking discharge of his duties
him the regard and respect of the citizens.  He
has latterly suffered from a fatal disease
under which he sank on Saturday last.”

The Innes House in Los Angeles.  The housing
boom in the Angeleno Heights suburb of Los Angeles began in the
mid-1880’s with
the construction of a number of majestic new Victorian homes in this
neighborhood.  Among the Midwesterners
who bought houses there were Daniel and Kate Innes from Kansas.  Daniel’s shoe store prospered downtown and
his family had become one of the first Blue Book families of Los

The Innes House was built on Carroll Avenue
in 1887.  Daniel and his family occupied
the house for over thirty years until Daniel’s death in 1918.  The house was designated an LA city landmark
in 1971 and has been used as a backdrop in many TV series.

Reader Feedback – Another Early Innes Family in Tasmania.  There was another early Innes family in Tasmania. Charles Innes from Invernessshire was sent to Australia as part of the Highland Clearances in 1853 and settled in North-west Tasmania. He was an early pioneer of the area and the town Scotchtown is named after him.

Shelley Innes (


Innes Names

  • John de Innes was an early 15th century Scottish churchman from Moray credited with the rebuilding of Elgin Cathedral.
  • Gilbert Innes was a wealthy early 19th century Edinburgh banker who fathered 67 illegitimate children.
  • John Innes was a 19th century
    property developer and philanthropist who developed the London suburb of Merton Park.
  • Hammond Innes was a popular
    English thriller writer of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Select Innes Numbers Today

  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Innes and Like Surnames 

These surnames originated from the northern part of Scotland, either the northeast of the country, the Scottish Highlands, or in one case (the surname Linklater) the Orkney isles north of Scotland.







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