Laing is an ancient descriptive name,
being a reference to 'long or tall'. The names Layng, Laying,
Laing, and Lang have been interchangeable through much of Scottish
history. The family seems to have originated in the
northern reaches and islands some time towards the end of the eighth
century as Norse and Picts intermixed.
Black lists Thomas Laing as promising
that Dumfries would pay part of the ransom for the return of David II
from England in 1357.
John Layng, the Rector of Newlands, Rose
to be Bishop of Glagow and treasurer to James III between 1473 and 1474.
Sir Neill Layng (1520-1584), a knight of
renown is mentioned in historic records.
John Layng, was Keeper of the Signet
1583-1609, and was buried in Greyfriars churchyard.
As a Highland Clan of the 13th through
the 18th centuries, the Laings were found from coast to coast across the
width of Scotland. Highly mobile and of large numbers they could
march from adjoining areas to fiercely defend a benefactor. These
included the Leslies, Gordons, Colquhouns and the Robertsons, and later
the Gayers. The home territory of the Highland Laings is reputed
to have been the area known as Laing-Gordon.
The name is found frequently in the
protocol books of the diocese of Glasgow in the 16th century.
Malcolm Laing was a lawyer and historian
from Orkney. He was admitted to the Scottish Bar in 1785. He
published a history of Scotland in 1800, and the poems of the Celtic
bard, Ossian, with notes and illustrations in 1805.
Major Alexander Laing was a well known
18th century African explorer. He is best remembered for
penetrating to the almost legendary city of Timbuctoo in 1826.
Arriving in West Africa in December of 1825 he shortly set off into the
desert in January 1826. He finally arrived in Timbuctoo on
18 August, having survived the privations of the desert and attacks by
Tuareg tribesmen. He remained for about a month but on his return
journey he was murdered by his guides.
The Reverend Cosmo Gordon Lang of
Scottish ancestry, was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1928 to 1942.
He officiated at the coronation of George VI and was raised to the
peerage as Baron Lang of Lambeth in 1942.
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