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Agnew


The name Agnew is said to be of French origin from the Barony d'Agneaux, Normandy although this has been recently disputed because the English would not translate directly to Agnew. Instead it has been claimed that the Agnews were one of the original Ulster tribes of the same stock as Somerled. Certainly many Agnews are to found in Ireland but in the 12th century it is recorded that Sir John de Courcy the conqueror of the province of Ulster was accompanied by Agneau, an Anglo-Norman knight who acquired extensive lands in Antrim. Hence it would seem that some Agnews came from Normandy to England, then to Ireland and back to Scotland. The first on record was in 1190 when William des Aigneu winessed a charter between Ranulf de Soulis and Jedburgh Abbey. In 1363 the Agnews of Lochnaw were appointed hereditary sheriffs of Galloway by David II and became to be great land owners in the province under the Douglases. In 1426 Andrew Agnew was appointed Constable of Lochnaw Castle. Patrick Agnew, his great grandson lived during the reigns of Queen Mary and James VI. His son, Sir Patrick was 7th Sheriff of Wigton and was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I. His descendant, Sir Andrew Agnew was the famous Lieutenant who defended Blair Castle, the seat of the Duke of Atholl. A branch of the family went to Ulster and obtained the lands of Larne and the Castle of Kilwaughter from James VI. Many Agnews went back to Ireland at the time of the Plantations around 1600 and thus there are some of the Agnews who are both ardent Catholics and Protestants. The present chief of the name and family of Agnew is Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw who is the appointed Rothesay Herald at the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Lochnaw Castle the 15th century family keep near Stranraer was bought by an Australian Miss Del Agnew in the 1950's and is now run for the trust. She descends from Sir James Wilson Agnew who went to Tasmania about 1840 and later became the President.


AGNEW: This name is said to derive from the Baronie d'Agneaux in Normandie, and to have arrived in Scotland via England and Ireland to become established in Galloway. The first of the name in the Scottish record appears in the 12th century, but such is of a Norman knight who witnessed a Borders charter. Family tradition, dating from c.1666, brings the Agnews to Galloway via Ireland in the reign of David II (c. 1360), but the first on record at Lochnaw is Andrew Agnew, who became Constable of Lochnaw in 1426 and Sheriff of Wigtown in 1451. Adding controversy to the theories of origin, a recent thesis has suggested that the Agnews may in fact derive from one of the old families of Ulster who were of the same blood-line as the mighty Somerled, ancestor of the once powerful Lords of the Isles, represented today by Clan Donald. It may well be that Agnews of today are of two distinct origins, now inseperable by time. The fall of the Douglases from the King's grace enhanced the fortunes of the Agnews in Galloway, but such brought them into conflict with the MacKies and MacClellans etc., who, envious of their success, frequently raided the lands of their Sheriffs, whose kinsmen invariably retaliated. When Mary Queen of Scots was deposed and imprisoned in Lochleven, the Galloway lairds recognised the infant King James, but on her escape, almost to a man, they re-aligned and, jeopardising their inheritance, espoused her cause until she was 'safely' in England. Sir Patrick of Lochnaw became a Baronet of Nova Scotia c.1629 and during the oppression of the Covenanters later that century the Agnew Sheriffs refused to implement the harsh measures of the Privy Council, such costing the family its hereditary offices. These were restored to Sir Andrew who took an active part in the Revolution of 1688 and remained in the family until 1747 when heritable jurisdictions were removed from all.


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