Jardine Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Jardine Surname Meaning

The surname Jardine comes from the French jardin, a “garden,” and would describe someone who lived at or near a garden or perhaps worked in a garden. The name probably crossed the Channel with the Norman Conquest. It made its first appearance in Scotland with Winfredus de Jardine who appeared on charter lists in 1153.

Jardine may also have originated from the Portuguese Jardim – when Portuguese immigrants arrived in English-speaking lands and anglicized their names.

Jardine Surname Resources on The Internet

Jardine Surname Ancestry

  • from Scotland (Borders), Northern England, and from Portugal
  • to Hong Kong, Canada, America, Caribs (St. Vincent), South Africa and Australia

Scotland.  The Jardine clan first established themselves in the 14th century when they settled at Applegirth in Dumfriesshire and built Spedlins Tower there. “From then till records were kept and land accounted for and enclosed, the family was known as de Gardine de Applegirth.” The spelling became Jardine by about 1500.

The Jardines were involved in various border skirmishes with the English in subsequent centuries, at times invading English lands and at other times being invaded. Their fortunes improved in the late 16th century when Sir Alexander Jardine fought on the King’s side and enlisted many men, known as “Jardine’s men,” into the Jardine clan.

The Jardines, unlike the Armstrongs, were able to hold onto their lands and they remained a force on the Scottish borders. Among notable Jardines from Applegirth in the following centuries were:

  • The Rev. John Jardine, one of the leading figures in Edinburgh of the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment.
  • James Jardine, a farmer’s son, who became a civil engineer and in the early 1800’s helped build the Grand Union Canal which ran through England to London.
  • Sir William Jardine, the 7th baronet, who made natural history available to the Victorian reading public through his The Naturalist’s Library series.

In the 19th century, many Jardines moved north to Glasgow, south into England, or emigrated – Canada being a favored destination.  However, Jardines have remained in Dumfries.  James Jardine, for instance, started his Jardine Funeral Director business in Dumfries in 1862.  It has continued through six generations of Jardine.

Ireland.  John Jardine, a younger son of the baronet line in Dumfries, emigrated to county Down in the 1750’s, settling in Newtownards.  The Jardine name lives on there.

England. One Jardine line from Closeburn in Dumfriesshire migrated south to England where William Jardine was a Justice of the Peace in Dunstable. He died there in 1873.  

“The deceased gentleman had been ailing for some time and there is no doubt that the melancholy death of his son in India a few months ago hastened his end.”  

His son William had died of cholera in India that year at the age of 32. The Jardine family, however, remained in India and Douglas Jardine, the controversial English cricket captain of the 1930’s, was later born there.

Lancashire  Other Jardines were to be found in the north of England, mainly in Lancashire. One family history recorded John and Catherine Jardine from Dumfriesshire coming to Blackburn in the 1830’s. William Jardine later established his draper’s shop there.

Jardine Organs in Manchester dates back to 1846 when Frederick Jardine joined an existing company of organ-makers. His uncle George had already departed for New York and set up his own organ business there.

Nottingham  The larger Jardine presence in England turned out to be in Nottingham further south. John Jardine, who started his working life there as an apprentice watchmaker, built up a business in the late 1800’s making lace-making machines.

According to the Nottingham Illustrated: “The appliances turned out by Mr. Jardine have always enjoyed an exceptional reputation for accurate adjustment, smooth and reliable working, and great durability.”

His son Ernest expanded the Jardine business into typewriters and became a great benefactor for the town of Nottingham in the inter-war years.

Far East.  It was a ship surgeon from Lochmaben in Dumfriesshire, William Jardine, who would challenge the hegemony of the all-powerful East India Company in Asia in the 1830’s. He ventured into opium trading in China and co-founded the trading firm of Jardine, Matheson and Co.

From 1842, when the company was first established in Hong Kong, Jardines – as it is more usually called – developed into one of the largest trading and industrial combines in the region.

After William’s death in 1843, the company was managed by a number of nephews and their descendants, including Robert Jardine and the Buchanan-Jardines. William Keswick, a great-nephew of the Jardine founder, ran the business in the 1870’s and shifted its focus from opium to real estate and railways. The Thistle and the Jade, first published in 1982, is a well-written history of the company.

Canada. Many Jardines emigrated to Canada in the first half of the 19th century, in particular to New Brunswick and the maritime provinces. This early history has been covered in Donald Jardine’s 1997 book, Jardines of Atlantic Canada.

The first arrival from Dumfriesshire appears to have been “Old Jock” Jardine in 1816, to be followed by two of his nephews John and Thomas. They started a shipbuilding business in Richibucto (now Rexton) Kent county, which was to be the basis of that town’s economy in the era of wooden sailing ships for the next sixty years.

Another Jardine entrepreneur was Robert Jardine from Ayrshire who arrived in the early 1830’s. He emerged as a major railroad promoter for the region and became actively involved in its politics. A number of other Jardines were to be found at this time in New Brunswick, as well as in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

America. The Jardine numbers in America are much fewer than in Canada.

It was said that George Jardine came to New York from London in 1836 to make the barrel organs that were sometimes used in small churches to accompany the congregational singing. But he soon turned to building organs with keyboards. Four of his sons and two of his grandsons became organ builders. Their work “was not of the highest price or grade, and yet had a large circulation.

Some Jardines arrived via Canada, such as John and Elizabeth Jardine who crossed the border from Ontario to Michigan at the time of the Civil War and then settled in Wisconsin. Later came Caribbean Jardines.

Caribbean. Jardines in the Caribbean are perhaps more likely to be of Portuguese than of Scottish origin. A large number of Jardims from the Portuguese island of Madeira came to St. Vincent, Trinidad, and British Guyana from the 1840’s onwards. Many of these Jardims became Jardines on or after their arrival, such as John Gonsalves Jardine who came to St. Vincent in the 1870’s.

South Africa. The Jardine name in Durban dates back to 1858 when a Jardine family was recorded as arriving in the port on the Phantom. A more substantial presence occurred in the 1890’s when a prosperous Jardine family came from Scotland and started work on a large manor house in the then wild interior of the country. Calderwood House, completed in 1902, was an elegant Victorian mansion of its time. It has recently been restored.

Australia. William Jardine from Dumfriesshire was one of the pioneer settlers of the Monaro district. He had arrived in Australia in 1841, reached Monaro five years later, and he and his sons became sheep farmers there.

Another Jardine family, from a “fine old Scottish border family,” were intrepid explorers of the remote northern Cape York Peninsula. The Jardine river of northern Queensland was named after them. Son Frank established a family cattle station at the Somerset outpost. He married the neice of the King of Samoa and lived out his life there, terrorizing the local Aborigines and earning the nickname of “devil man.”

Jardine Surname Miscellany

Spedlins Tower.  The seat of the chief of clan Jardine from the 15th century was at Spedlins Tower on the banks of the river Annan.  In the 17th century he was forced to move their seat from the fortalice because of a grisly family secret.

A miller named Dunty Porteas had been left to starve in the dungeon of the tower and his ghost – with his tortuous screams of hunger and pain – is said to have driven the family away (they ended up building a new home, Jardine Hall, on the other bank of the river).

The Jardines in their desperation to rid his ghost had hired a minister who carried out an exorcism.  This managed to confine the spirit to the dungeon.  The binding was carried out with the aid of a bible that was left near the dungeon and acted as a barrier to Dunty’s restless spirit.

The bible was sent to be rebound in Edinburgh in 1710, allowing the miller’s spirit to roam free and wreak havoc once again, until the bible was returned to its rightful place. Folklore to this day says that if you poke a stick into the dungeon of Spedlins Tower it will come back half-chewed.

Over time Spedlins Tower fell into ruin and its ownership changed hands.   It was restored in the 1980’s and is now owned by an architect and his wife.  In a panel near the top of one side is engraved the date 1605.  The two lower storeys bear the mark of an earlier time.

Jardine Clan Symbols

  • Arms: argent, a saltire and chief gules, the latter charged with three mullets of first, pierced of the second;
  • Crest: a spur rowel of six points Proper;
  • Badge: a sprig of apple blossom;
  • Motto: cave adsum, meaning “beware, I am present.”

William Jardine, Taipan.  William Jardine was known for his legendary imperiousness and sturdy pride.  He was nicknamed “the iron-headed old rat” by the locals after being hit on the head by a club during a petition by the China traders to the mandarins in Canton.  Jardine, after being hit, just shrugged off the insult with dour Scottish resilience.

He had only one chair in his office in the Jardine clipper flagship the Hercules, and that was his own.  Visitors were never allowed to sit – to impress upon them that Jardine was a very busy man.

Jardine was known as a brilliant crisis manager.  In 1822, during his visit to the firm’s Canton office, he found the local office in management crisis, with employees in near mutiny against the firm’s Canton officers. Jardine then proceeded to take temporary control and succeeded in putting the office in perfect order in just a matter of days.

He was also a shrewd judge of character.  Jardine was even able to persuade the Rev. Charles Gutzlaff, a fanatic Prussian missionary, to interpret for their ship captains while they were engaged in the coastal smuggling of opium.  His pitch was that Gutzlaff would be better able to gather more converts during these smuggling operations.

Soon Jardine was being referred to by the other traders as “Tai-pan,” a Chinese colloquial title meaning “Great Manager.” James Clavell’s novel Taipan is in fact based on William Jardine and the other Jardine tai-pans.

Jardine and Jardim.  There are two separate Jardine families to be found in the Caribbean.   Firstly there are the Jardines who can trace their lineage back to Scotland.  Then there are the Jardines who can trace their families to the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of Africa.   It so happened that the name Jardim, a common Portuguese surname, sounded like Jardine to English ears when these Portuguese arrived in the Caribbean during the 1800’s.

The same thing happened in the US and there are Jardine families there who are Portuguese immigrants to the US.  Antonio and Augusta Jardim emigrated from Madeira to Hawaii in 1883 and later settled in Oakland, California.

William Jardine in the Outback.  In his latter days, William Jardine would tell humorous stories about his early life in Australia.  He had come to the Monaro district in 1846 and started the Jindabyne flour mill in conjunction with Stuart Ryrie.

Here he had made the acquaintance of Jacky Jacky, the outlaw; and here he had been the “white father” of a tribe of blacks who had to use the mill weir to cross the Snowy river on their excursion to Kosciusko after the Boogong.  Jardine continued:

“I wonder if my readers know how the blacks treat the Boogong.  In September and October the tribes migrate towards Kosciusko.  They are so lean they hardly cast a shadow.

The Boogong is a big moth which clusters in hundreds in the clefts of the rocks when resting.  The natives scoop them out onto a rug and make a fire as if they were going to cook a damper.  Then the moths take the place of the damper and in a few minutes nothing remains but a little white kernel, which the blacks pick out with a sharp stick and eat faster than you can count.

In February and March the aboriginal, who has swollen up like a canine the victim of misplaced confidence in a stray piece of meat, and greasy as the inside of a whale, returns to the plains to return again next Boogong season as lean and hungry as ever.”

Jardine was a sheep rancher.  He was emphatically a merinos man and his chief aim was to keep this class at his Curry Flat ranch at its highest perfection.  Every year the whole flock would be carefully and thoroughly classed.  Only the very best quality ewes would be kept for stud uses, the result being a strong combing wool of bright lustre, regular serrations, and plenty of yolk.  The W.J. over C.F. brand always managed to secure firm average prices on the London market.

The Jardine Mansion in South Africa.  Calderwood Hall was the family home of the Jardines who had emigrated from Scotland to South Africa to settle in the wild interior of the new colony of Natal.

Construction was planned to start in 1895, aiming for completion by 1900.  Bricks were made on site, using sand and clay from nearby riverworks which were molded into shape and fired in straw kilns on the farm. Today one can still see the handprints of the brick-makers and the imprints of the straw where the bricks were placed to cool after firing.

However, things were delayed by the loss in 1898 of imported building materials such as the “brookielace,” tiles, steel pressed ceilings, steel fireplaces, stained glass, doors and door surrounds, all imported from Glasgow in Scotland.  All of these items sank into the waters of Durban harbor when a rope snapped during offloading.  Luckily these items were insured and the whole consignment was reordered and arrived two years later.  It then took another two months to transport everything to the building site by ox-drawn wagons.

Calderwood Hall was finally completed in 1902 and was the Jardine family home for many years.  During their occupation Joseph Jardine and his wife produced twelve children.   They were all born in the “birthing room” on the ground floor (now the TV lounge), as Edith refused to climb the house’s magnificent walnut staircase after her sixth month of pregnancy.  The babies were then transferred upstairs to the “nursing room” (now an ensuite bathroom for the Indian suite) on the mezzanine level, where they were cared for by nurse or nanny.

Over time the next generation of Jardines sold off portions of the estate until there was only a house in a dilapidated state and a small garden left.  It has been new owners who have renovated the building into a country hotel.

Douglas Jardine – England’s Cricket Captain During Bodyline.  Douglas Jardine was the captain of the England cricket tour of Australia in 1932-33 that came to be known as the “bodyline” tour.  Even before the bodyline controversy erupted, Jardine had incurred colonial displeasure.

He would insist on wearing his Oxford Harlequin cap on the pitch – a fashion statement regarded as pretentious Down Under – and dismissed the locals as “an uneducated and unruly mob.”  When team-mate Patsy Hendren was moved to observe: “They don’t seem to like you very much over here, Mr. Jardine,” amid much booing and jeering during the second Test in Sydney, the reply was as brusque as it was unambiguous: “It’s fucking mutual.”

Tact and diplomacy were early alien concepts – as he showed in the third Test at Adelaide.  He instructed his fast bowlers there, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, to target the Australian batsmen rather than their stumps (the so-called “bodyline” attack).  Lockwood seriously injured Australia’s captain Bill Woodfull with one vicious delivery which landed just below the heart.  As the stadium fell quiet, Jardine’s imperiously clipped voice could be heard to say: “Well bowled, Harold.”

An outraged Australian Board of Control fired off a telegram to Lord’s, the home of cricket, which made the following statement:

“Bodyline bowling has assumed such proportions as to menace the best interests of the game, making protection of the body by batsmen the main consideration.  This is causing intensely bitter feelings between the players as well as injury.  In our opinion it is unsportsmanlike and unless it is stopped at once, it is likely to upset the friendly relations which exist between Australia and England.”

Neither Lord’s nor Jardine recanted and the tour limped on in a strained environment.

Jardine Names

  • Sir Alexander Jardine was the successful chief of the Jardine clan during the Anglo-Scottish wars of the early 16th century.
  • Sir William Jardine, 7th baronet of Applegirth, made natural history available to all levels of Victorian society through his hugely popular The Naturalist’s Library.
  • Dr. William Jardine was the Scottish ship surgeon who became a trader in the Far East and co-founded the famous Hong Kong trading firm of Jardine Matheson (Jardines).
  • Douglas Jardine was an English cricketer famous (or infamous) for his captaincy of the English cricket team in Australia in 1933-33 during the Bodyline series.

Jardine Numbers Today

  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous in the Scottish borders)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in California).
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

Jardine and Like Surnames

The border between Scotland and England was a lawless area for well over three hundred years and the subject of many stories and hearsays.  Families on both sides of the border took part in the raids, attacking villages and stealing cattle on the way.  Eventually, following the unification of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603, the area was pacified.  There were mass executions and banishments, many to the new Protestant colony in Ulster.  These were some of the prominent Border family surnames at that time that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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