SDFA member, Mike Croft, gave me
an article with a great deal of research on his family name and the
areas where it has been found. These include Angus, Inverness,
Galloway, and Caithness. With his permission I am including
excerpts of his article referencing the Angus District.
Angus is our home county. About
halfway up the coast of Scotland, Angus is bounded by
Kincardineshire to the north and Perthshire to the west, with the
Tay estuary forming its southern boundary. Angus was in the
heartland of the ancient kingdom of the Picts and it was here at
Dunnichen near Forfar, that the Battle of Nechtansmere took place in
685 between a Pictich army under King Bruide and Northumbrian
invaders led by King Egfrith. The Picts' triumph effectively ended
Northumbrian expansion northwards. Today, one can still see many
excellent examples of Pictish standing stones. The group at
Aberlemno is particularly fine.
In 1320, the stirring Declaration
of Arbroath, affirming Scotland's freedom, was approved at Arbroath
Abbey. At about the same time, Glamis Castle, the most famous
castle in the county, was being built. The family home of HM the
Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess, Margaret, Glamis is
also renowned for its ghosts and its connection with Shakespear's
MacBeth. Forfar was once famed for its witches and indeed employed a
professional witchfinder at one stage. In the town's Meffan museum
you'll find the Witch's Bridle, a grisly iron collar with a blunt
spike which was forced into the unfortunate witch's mouth to stop
her screaming while she was being burned at the stake.
Although its population is only
about 7000, Brechin is the only 'city' in Angus as it has a little
cathedral initially founded in the 13th century. Standing
pencil-slim beside the cathedral is a round tower, the oldest in
Scotland (there is only one other, at Abernathy), built by Culdee
monks in about 1000 AD.
Arbroath (pop 25,000) is the
largest Angus town, and home of the famous Abbey, which was founded
in 1178. It was at the Abbey in 1320 that the Declaration of
Scottish Independence was signed outlining the desire of the
Scottish people for self-determination.
From such auspicious beginnings
the growth of Arbroath continued over the years, but the real boom
time came as the flax and engineering industries began to expand,
leading to an ever-increasing population. Today industry continues
to play an important part in the economy of the town with a variety
of activities ranging from fish food processing to engineering and
textiles. Still a working port Arbroath's harbor remains an
attractive focal point for the town. At the harbor, the
mouth-watering scent of that famous Arbroath delicacy, the Smokie,
wafts from the surrounding smokehouses.
Arbroath also has a
long-established reputation as a holiday resort, with fine sands,
leisure facilities, and the annual Sea Fest - a three day
celebration of the town's maritime heritage. Just outside Arbroath
is the busy village of Friockheim and the 18th Century House of
Pitmuies with its beautiful gardens.
More than most any other county,
Angus is a microcosm of Scotland, with rich farmland in Strathmore,
wide sandy beaches and fishing towns in the east, highland mountains
and glens to the north, and several very typical Scottish towns (and
football teams!) dotted here and there. There's even an industrial
city (Dundee) to the south, although it's not actually in
Angus. The county is also renowned for it gastronomic delicacies -
Angus beef, Forfar bridies, and Arbroath smokies to name but three.
Family names connected with the
county include Carnegie, Guthrie, Gardyne, Lindsay, Lyon, and
Graham, and for many years the powerful Red Douglas family held the
earldom of Angus. Having said that, the most common surname in the
local telephone directory is SMITH!
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