Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


“The History of the Lindsays”

The following history of the Lindsay family can be found on the Clan Lindsay Association USA INc Website and is well worth visiting due to the extensive research being done on the Family. Currently I am trying to link the family to a Preceptor of the Knights of St John at Torphichen, Scotland

“The History of the Lindsays”

“Of Ingloand coyme the Lynddissay,
Mair of thaim I can noucht say.””
–Andrew Wyntoun, c. 1420

Much more has been said about the origins of the Lindsays; little, if any, has been proven.

For centuries, histories about this noble name have stated that they are of Norman descent. Though they most likely came from Normandy, some are not yet certain that they were Norman.

Clan Lindsay Society, Scotland, produced an article, which was researched and written by Alistair Lindsay, then editor of the Society publications and his daughter, Alison, who is the current Secretary and editor for the Society. In this article, they surmise the following: “The Lindsays did not ‘come over with the Conqueror’: extremely few existing families did. D.C. Douglas only established 41 undoubted ‘companions of the Conqueror’ although more followed later. When Henry I ,of England, reconquered Normandy in 1106 from his older brother Robert, much of his support came from Western Normandy. There was thus a second wave of Norman migration to England and the Lindsay ancestor may have been in the following of the Earl of Chester and acted for him in ‘the parts of Lindsey,’ the largest of the three divisions of Lincolnshire. Here the Lindsays acquired several manors, before entering the service of Prince David. David acquired Huntingdon jure uxoris late in 1113, and Walter may well have been enfeoffed in Molesworth and Caldecote by David, rather than being a previous vassal therein. Walter was obviously not feudal lord of Lindsey, but in Huntingdon may soon have come to be known as Walter (from, i.e. de) Lindsey. If there is no evidence of him being so described before he reached Huntingdon, the case would seem to be strengthened.”

Also included in this article is information about recently published research by Mrs. Beryl Platt, who studied in some detail the history of Flanders. She emphasizes how many of the families brought by King David and his grandsons to ‘Normanise’ Scotland were of Flemish origin. Her appendix 1 is an essay on Lindsay origins, indicating that they are Flemish and not Norman.

Allistair and Alison write thusly about Mrs. Platt’s research: “This challenging theory will be welcome if it provokes a fresh appraisal of the whole question, which has fascinated genealogists at intervals for a hundred and fifty years. While she opens up a possibility, no charter evidence is adduced to provide a father for Walter of the Inquisitio. So far as we are aware, the book has not yet been reviewed by a professional medievalist, so the Scottish verdict of Not Proven must meantime hold, although the future development of her theory will be watched with interest.”

Lindsays in Scotland
Histories and genealogies have been created for the Lindsays that take them all the way back to Adam and Eve. Others show them connected to the royal families of many countries of the world.

Lindsay is a noble name and has proved to be quite illustrious, when only the facts are given that are backed up by Charter evidence. This evidence starts with Walter de Lindeseia, who sat as a member of Prince David’s council in the Scottish borders (Cumbria) along with other Norman Knights in the early part of the 12th century. When this Prince became King of Scotland, he placed these Knights as Great Barons in the power structure. Walter was given Ercildoune (Earlston) first and later Luffness and Crawford.

Walter was followed by two Williams in the ordinary line of succession.

In the reign of William the Lion, 1165-1214, the greater part of the parish of Crawford was held by William de Lindsay in lordship of Swan, the son of Thor. William undertook for himself and his heirs to render the services required from these lands to the overlord and to the King. This is the first Lindsay found associated with the territory of Crawford. Mr. W. A. Lindsay of the Windsor Hearld writes in 1901, “It is not probable that Barons who took a leading part in the Government of Scotland lived regularly in a spot so remote and so inaccessible as Crawford.” He also says that the Lindsays held the more important fief of Luffness and was described in Parliament as Baron of Luffness. To a Lindsay of antiquarian taste, Crawford would be of great interest, but there is not any outward and visable token of the scenes which imagination would seek to revive.

David Lindsay of Glenesk was, by solemn belting and investiture, created Earl of Crawford by his brother-in-law, Robert, III, on the 21st of April, 1398 in the Parliament held at Perth. This creation was accompanied by a regrant of the principal fief of Crawford “with a regality” and a herald called Lindsay was then created. Though the Lindsays were now situated in Glenesk, Crawford was their principal fief and remained so until the 5th Earl resigned the superiority of the various lands in the barony of Crawford.

Earl David, being trained in Angus, permanently fixed there the main dwelling place of his family, at the castle of Finhaven. The urban dwelling of the Crawford house was in Dundee. At this time the Lindsays possessed more than twenty great baronies and lordships, besides other lands of minor importance.

Land in those days gave to the holders little more than the bodily service of the vassals who tilled them, or rather, who lived on their natural produce. The Lindsays are, however, to be looked on in all respects as a powerful house, Sheriffs in their day of the shires of Forfar or Aberdeen.

Through the centuries, the Lindsays have been eminent in many fields of endeavor. David Lyndsay, Lord Lyon, King at Arms, was also a playwright and poet of the Reformation. His fame is rivaled by that of Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, whose History of Scotland is one of the most valuable national documents. Lady Anne Lindsay, daughter of the 5th Earl of Balcarres, wrote “Auld Robin Gray”, one of the finest and most favorite of Scottish ballads.

Rev. David Lindsay, minister of Leith, became Bishop of Ross in 1600. Patrick Lyndsay was Archbishop of Glascow. David Lindsay, Bishop of Edinburgh, crowned Charles I at Holyrood in 1633. James Bowman Lindsay, the Forfarshire weaver, electrician and philologist, patented a wireless system of telegraphy in 1854. Marconi credits him as being his true predecessor.

A Lindsay was one of ten people who signed the declaration of independence of Scotland, declaring themselves totally independent of England. They were allies of Robert the Bruce and fought in Bannockburn. They intermarried with the family of William Wallace and handed over some of their castles to help him in his great battle for independence.

The 20th Earl of Crawford raised the Black Watch regiment in 1739, which was originally called the Lindsay-Crawford Regiment. Today, they still stand guard over Edinburgh Castle. Later, this Earl commanded the Scot Grays. Robert Lindsay, cousin to the 26th Earl, was the first recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Lord Crawford, current chief of the family, is the 29th holder of the title and 40th feudal lord of Crawford. He is the premier Earl of Scotland. If precedence were determined by length of service in Parliament, he would also be the premier peer of the Empire, for his predecessors and he have sat in every Parliament, either Scottish or British, since 1147.”

This document has been approved by Rt. Hon Robert Alexander Lindsay, the 29th Earl of Crawford.

Written by:
Anne L. Alexander, FSA Scot.
Genealogist/Archivist Clan Lindsay Association, USA
January, 2000

Lord Lindsay: Lives of the Lindsays, v.1, 1849; Jervise: Land of the Lindsays, 1853; Smibert: Clans of the Highlands of Scotlands, 1850; Publications of the Clan Lindsay Society, Scotland, 1900 to date.

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