Scott Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Scott Meaning
was the generic name given by the Romans to Gaelic raiders from
Ireland.  The Gaelic word was
, from which came
the word Scotland.  The name Uchtredius filius Scoti
(Uchtred, the
son of a Scot) was recorded in a document in 1128.
The name Scott in Scotland subsequently came to describe Gaelic speakers in the English-speaking Lowlands.  The surname is prevalent in Scotland and is also to be found in England.
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Select Scott Ancestry

Scotland.  The Scotts have
numerous in Scotland from early times.  Six Scott lairds signed
Roll in 1296 and Scotts emerged principally in the Scottish Border

The Scotts of
traced their descent from Sir Richard le Scot in
Peeblesshire in the 14th
century, the Scotts of Balwearie and the later Scotts of Harden
line from his brother Sir Michael.  The Scotts of Buccleuch became
a powerful Border family; while Walter Scott of Harden, known
as Auld Wat,
was the most well-known of the Scott Border

“A hardy race who never shrank from war
The Scott, to rival realms a bar,
Here fixed his mountain home.”

The writer Sir
of Abbotsford, the son of a lowly tenant farmer, was
related to
these Harden Scotts six generations later.  He wrote much about

The pacification of the Borders in the early 17th century meant the end
their reiving way of life.  The Scotts of Buccleuch were
ennobled as Dukes, became respectable, and prospered.  They became
one of the largest landowners
in Scotland.  John Scott acquired
Thirlestane in Selkirkshire in 1535 and later Scotts became baronets
But many poorer Scotts left the Borders, either
plantations in Ireland or for work in Glasgow and elsewhere.

A Scott line in Fifeshire included Sir John Scott, a lawyer who
received the title of Lord Scotstarvet in 1629. A descendant John Scott
was by repute the richest commoner in Scotland when he died without
issue in 1776.  Other Scotts of this line moved north
to the Shetland isles.  In 1814 Sir Walter Scott the writer dined
with a John Scott from Scalloway.

Ireland.  The Scottish
mercenaries or gallowglasses who came to Ulster between the 14th and
16th centuries were sometimes called Albanach, from Alba in
Scotland.  Later Albanach became Scott.  Displaced Scotts
from the Borders also went to Ulster, and in particular to

Scotts today in Ulster are
concentrated in Antrim and Down.  There
were Scotts at Tullyquilly in the Drumgath parish of county Down from
the early
1700’s.  Thomas and Martha Scott went
from there to America in 1856.  
Thomas Scott,
who came to Canada as an adventurer in the 1860’s, was also from county

England.  Scott in England
would describe someone
from Scotland.  It was to be found in the English border counties,
in Yorkshire, and along eastern England.  Two notable Scotts
families came from:

  • William Scott, born in humble circumstances in Durham, who became
    a prominent Newcastle coal merchant in the mid-1700’s.  His
    John Scott rose to be Lord Chancellor of England in 1801.
  • and the Rev. Thomas Scott, the son of a cattle farmer in
    Lincolnshire, who became an influential Christian preacher and
    writer.  His grandson was the Victorian architect Sir Gilbert

A Scott family held a manor house near Smeeth in Kent in
14th century.  Their family lineage has been traced with more
certainty from the early 1400’s when they lived at Scot’s Hall.
These Scotts were a prominent family in Kent and remained at Scot’s
Hall until 1808 when the old mansion was pulled down.

There were also Scott pockets in Dorset and Devon.   Robert
Scott, who led the doomed expedition to the North 1912, came from the Scott family of Stoke Demarel near

America.  Captain John
Scott, said to have been from the Kent Scotts, arrived in New England
at the time of the English Civil War in bondage.  However, he soon
secured his freedom, leaving Boston for Long Island where he
was instrumental in establishing English settlement from the
Dutch.  He became a real estate speculator there before abandoning
his family and returning to England.

A story about
the first Scottish Scotts in America goes as follows:

“The American Buckelews are descended
from a Scottish Border clan the Scotts, barons of Buccleuch.  Two
brothers, Francis and Gilbert Scott of the clan of Buccleuch, came to
America on the ship Caledonia
about 1664.  They dropped the surname Scott in America and kept
the clan
name, changing the spelling to Bucklew.”

Hugh Scott, Scots Irish and said to
have come to Chester county, Pennsylvania in 1670, did keep the Scott
name.  But it is not clear if he really was
there at that time as
Pennsylvania did not even exist then.
The more likely forebear of the Scotts of Chester county is
Scott a generation later.  His son Hugh
was a major in the Revolutionary War

Scottsville in America seems to have had two Scott

  • Scottsville
    in Kentucky and Virginia were named after Charles Scott who fought in
    Revolutionary War and became the fourth Governor of Kentucky in 1808.  His line seems to have gone back to Edward
    Scott of New Kent county, Virginia in the early 1700’s.
  • while Scottsville,
    named after Robert Scott, an early settler there in the 1820’s.  He had arrived in Virginia from Scotland with
    his brother Archelaus sometime in the 1770’s.

Jeremiah Scott from Lancashire
had fought in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne for William of Orange who
presented him with a gold medal.
Afterwards he settled in Tipperary.

His son John came out to Jamaica around 1750 and soon became a
well-to-do landowner there, owning plantations in St. Thomas and in
Clarendon.  John’s brother George was
appointed Governor of Dominica, but was killed in a duel in 1767.  Another brother Joseph settled in Nova

Canada.  William Scott from county
Clare in Ireland
served with the British army in Quebec in 1814 and later settled in
Ontario.  His son Richard, raised a
Catholic, had a long political career in Canada that lasted over sixty

Australia and New Zealand.
Alexander Walker Scott, the son of Scottish physician Helenus Scott,
arrived in NSW in 1827.  His business enterprises there were
generally unsuccessful.  But he made a name for himself as an
entomologist.  His insect collection is conserved at the
Australian Museum in Sydney.

Andrew and Celia Scott arrived in Australia from Glasgow in 1838.
A year later they established a cattle and sheep station at Mount
Boninyong in Vitoria that became known as Scotsburn.  Their
descendants still operate the station.

Scott was an Anglican clergyman from county Down in Ireland who came to
Zealand on the Black Eagle in 1861.
His son Andrew, a bushranger in Australia who
gave his name as Captain Moonlite, was executed for his crimes in 1880


Scott Miscellany

Uchtred, Son of a Scot.  Uchtredus Filius Scoti – that is Uchtred, son of a Scot –
was witness to an inquisition respecting possessions of the church of Glasgow
in the reign of Alexander I, around 1120, and as well to the foundation charter
of the abbey of Holyrood by David I in 1128, as also was Herbert Scot,
and to
that of the abbacy of Selkirk in 1130.
He was called Uchtredus filius Scoti to distinguish from others
of the
same Christian name, probably Saxons or Normans.

His son Richard le Scot witnessed a charter
granted by the bishop of St. Andrews to the abbey of Holyrood house
about 1158.  From his line was said to have
come the
Scotts of Murdockstone in Peeblesshire (from whom came the Scotts of
and the Scotts of Balwearie in Fifeshire.

Scott of Buccleuch.  Scott of Satchells who published, in 1688 A True History of the Right Honorable Name of Scott gave the following romantic and imaginary account of the origin of
the Scotts of Buccleuch.

“Two brothers,
natives of Galloway, had been banished from that country for a riot or
insurrection and had come to Rankleburn in Ettrick Forest.
The keeper there received them joyfully on
account of their skill in winding the horn and in the other mysteries
of the
chase.  Kenneth MacAlpin, then King of
Scotland, came soon after to hunt in the royal forest and pursued a
buck from
Ettrickheugh to the glen now called Buccleuch, which is about two miles
the junction of Rankleburn with the river Ettrick.  Here
the stag stood at bay.

King and his attendants who followed on
horseback were thrown out by the steepness of the hill and the morass.  John, one of the brothers from Galloway, had
followed the chase on foot and now, coming in, seized the buck by the
horns.  Being a man of great strength and
activity, he
threw him on his back and ran with his burden about a mile up a steep
hill to a
place called Cracra Cross where Kenneth had halted.
He laid the buck at the sovereign’s feet.”

account, though widely believed, had no
basis in fact.  The lands of Buccleuch
did not become the property of the family of Scott until at least two
after the time of Kenneth III.  It was
not until 1426 that the designation Lord of Buccleuch began to be used
by the
head of the Scott family.  The cradle of
the Scotts was not in Ettrick Forest at all, but at Scotstown and
Kirkurd in
the county of Peeblesshire.

Old Wat O’Harden.  One of the most famous border reivers was Walter Scott of Harden, commonly known as “Auld Wat.”
He was a renowned marauder and many of his exploits were
commemorated in
Border traditions and ballads.  His stronghold was the old castle
Harden just to the west of the town of Hawick.
He died in 1629.

In the dark recesses of the glen on the edge of
which the castle stood, Auld Wat would keep his ill-gotten gains.   Legend has it that when the food supply
running low, Auld Wat would be served a clean pair of spurs under a
dish by his wife, a beautiful woman known as “the flower of Yarrow.”  This was a hint that it was time to replenish
the food supply with some fresh beef from Northumbria.

Another story relates to the
booty brought back on one marauding trip into Cumberland.
Upon their return laden with spoil which lay
scattered in heaps around the hall, the lady of the house heard a
wailing sound
from one of the bundles.  Upon unwrapping
it she found an infant who flung his arms around her neck and clung to
breast.  She subsequently took charge of
the little captive and brought him up as her foster-child.
Although he spent his life at Harden, he had
no taste for the wild and adventurous life and spent his life in the
scenes of pastoral pursuits.  He was said to have been the author
of some
of the most beautiful songs and ballads on the Borders.

Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford.  In a letter of 1811 to his friend John Morrit, Scott wrote that he had ‘bought a small farm, value about £150 yearly,
with the
intention of ‘bigging myself a bower’ after my own fashion.”  This farm was Clarty Hole Farm, situated in
the Borders between Kelso and Melrose, which Scott would rename

originally comprised 110 acres but
grew exponentially as Scott bought up neighboring property so that by
1825 the
acreage was ten times its original size.
The building too had been radically transformed.
In fact he had demolished the existing
cottage and erected a two-story manor house in its place.

commentators have seen Abbotsford as an
echo of the blending of ancient and modern that Scott attempts in his
works.  Externally, it resembles a
Scottish fortified house of the 16th century, with turreted towers,
high chimneys,
and a castellated fringe.  The interior
is filled with relics of both national and family history: heraldic
suits of armor, old weaponry, and paintings of Scott’s forebears.  Abbotsford proved immeasurably influential on
19th century building styles, sparking the Victorian revival of

‘plaything in
stone’ came at a great expense to himself.
After its completion in 1824, Scott had barely a year to enjoy
realized vision before financial disaster struck.  To
finance Abbotsford, he had taken advances
from his publisher and also raised a number of loans.
When the financial crash of 1826 happened, he
found himself in debt to the tune of £120,000.
However, he had had the foresight to settle Abbotsford upon his
newly-married son in 1825.  According to
Scots law as it then stood, it was thus beyond the reach of Scott’s

The Scott Family of Scot’s Hall.  William Scott, the founder of the Kentish family
of Scots Hall, was the son of John Scott, seneschal of the manor of
in Kent. He was appointed Justice of the Common Pleas in 1336 and died
in 1350.
Family tradition has it that Sir William
was descended from a younger brother of John de Baliol, King of
Scotland and of
Alexander de Baliol, the Lord of Chilham in Kent.  But
there is no documentation in support of
that claim.

later William Scott, who
died in 1434, is credited with the building of Scots Hall.
His eldest son John was Sheriff of Kent in
1460 and later Warden of the Cinque Ports and Marshal of Calais.  He died in 1489. 

The Scotts of Scottsville, Indiana.  Wesley
Scott, a second generation “Hoosier,” was the village
blacksmith and postmaster of Scottsville and in his later years began
to organize
his ancestral recollections.  He died in 1907.
But his daughters typed, edited and
eventually published his memoirs.  They
appeared as The Scott Family: A Pioneer
Family of Kentucky and Indiana. 

to Wesley Scott’s memoirs, Robert Green came to America in the 1770’s
with his
brother Archelaus and they settled in what was then Virginia territory
and is
now Kentucky.   They were in Woodford
county in 1792 when George Washington signed the Act which made
Kentucky the
15th state in the Union, separate from Virginia.

1814 Robert and Archelaus had begun to
explore what new lands might be available in the Northwest Territory,
Indiana.  They and their families were
recorded in Washington county, Indiana by the time of the 1820 census.  Wesley’s father John Scott was part of this
migration from Kentucky to Indiana.  He
described the ordeals.

Indiana while it was still a territory, coming as far as the Ohio
river, no
navigation or boats, having to cross the river in his own canoe.   Bringing his wife and children the first load
then returning to obtain the household goods or belongings.

up the bank he found nothing but laurel growing.  The
first residents he saw was a cabin owned
by a man named Whittaker.  There he left his family for a few
Taking his gun he traveled through the forest ten or twelve miles
There he built himself a cabin.  His little cabin was surrounded
by deer,
wolf, bears, and panthers.“

were to settle in what became the
settlement of Lafayette township in Floyd county.

Thomas Scott in Canada.  According
to Lord Dufferin, when he was Governor
General of Canada, Thomas Scott “came of very decent people.  His parents are at this moment tenant farmers
on my estate in the neighborhood of Clandeboye in county Down.  But he himself seems to have been a violent
and boisterous man such as are often found in the North of Ireland.”

turned up in Canada West around the
year 1863.   He was a Presbyterian and
active and zealous Orangeman.  In the
summer of 1869 he arrived at the Red River settlement and found
employment as a
laborer on the Dawson Road project.  That
August he led a strike against John Snow, the contractor, who wisely
capitulated after Scott had threatened to throw him into the Seine

later got embroiled in the political
dispute over the future of the Red River settlement, joining up with
the opposition
party to Riel and his Metis supporters.  In
the fighting that followed Scott
was captured and put in prison.  On
March 3, 1870 a court martial convicted him on the charge of
insubordination and the
death penalty was invoked.  The following
day he was shot by a Métis firing squad.  

an obscure if volatile figure during his life, became a cause célèbre
after his death.
He was seen as a martyr to his cause, a
sentiment implicit in the letter of his brother, Hugh Scott, to the
Prime Minister: “My brother was a very quiet and inoffensive young man,
but yet
when principle and loyalty to his Queen and Country was at stake he was
a brave and loyal man.”


Scott Names

  • Sir Walter Scott was a famed border reiver of the 16th century, known as “the bold Buccleuch.”
  • Sir Walter Scott was the celebrated historical novelist and poet who did much to revive Scottish
    culture and heritage in the early 19th century.
  • Sir Gilbert Scott was a leading
    English architect of the Victorian age, best known for his design of the Albert Memorial.
  • Robert Scott led the doomed
    expedition in 1912 to reach the North Pole.
  • George C. Scott was an American
    actor, best known for his portrayal of General Patton.

Select Scott Numbers Today

  • 134,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hertfordshire)
  • 156,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 117,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Scott and Like Surnames

These were names originally given to outsiders in the British Isles that became surnames.  Thus Walter the Scot became Walter Scott.  Outsiders could also have been Welsh, Irish, French or Flemish.  These are some of the “outsider” surnames which are covered here.




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