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Clan Milne


The name is recorded in Aberdeenshire in 1380 and means 'at or near a corn-mill'. John Milne of Urquhart, Morayshire, born in 1659, was the father of Harry Milne (b.1695), 1st Laird of Chapelton, Forfar.

Field-Marshal George Milne (1866-1948), descended from George Milne of Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire, who died in 1832, was created Lord Milne in 1933.

Graham Milne sent in this information:

The Milne family come from Aberdeenshire, where they have been settled since at least the middle ages. However, the view that the name Milne is derived from the old English 'myln', in turn derived from the Latin 'molina', meaning 'mill', and thus referring to people living 'at or near a mill' is, in my view, open to question, although it is an obvious and apparently plausible explanation. Where a name is associated with some physical object, such as a mill, one would expect that name to be as geographically widespread as the object itself, all other factors being equal. Although there are a number of surnames based on the word 'mill' , such as 'Mills', which are widespread, one must ask why the name 'Milne' was local to Aberdeen. The origin of the Milne name has not, in my view, been investiagted sufficiently. For instance, was 'old English' (where the word for a mill was apparently 'myln' - see above), as opposed to the later form (where the word for a mill was 'mill'), ever spoken in Aberdeenshire? Though I may be wrong, I would have thought that Gaelic was the predominant language in that part of the country until quite a late period, at least until after the disappearance of old English elsewhere. As I understand it, most names originating in that area have Gaelic roots - think of all the clan names, for instance. While it may turn out to be nothing at all, I have discovered a possible derivation of the Milne name that I feel merits further investigation.

(Earliest references to the name appear to be; during the reign of King Alexander III (1249-1286), to one Adam Molendinarius, into whose death an inquest was held at the Castle of Dumfries (In this instance, 'molendinarius' probably means 'miller', referring to an occupation rather than a surname proper); a reference in 1364 to one Ade Molendinarius, in the service of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Moray upon receiving a remission and protection, probably also a reference to an occupation; a reference in 1382 to Hugh and Johannes de Molendino who were excommunicated at Fyvy, which seems to be the first reference to a surname as such.)

According to the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records (Court of the Lord Lyon) in a letter to me dated 24th October 2000, 'it would seem that there were people called de Molendino in Aberdeenshire in the 14th century and the name quickly moved into being Myll or Myln'. The words 'de Molendino' evidently occur in a charter (the 1382 charter referred to above), written in Latin, and mean 'of the mill'. It is possible that 'de Molendino' means exactly that, as in, say, 'John of [that is, who lives at or near] the mill'. However, it is also possible that 'de Molendino' is a Latinized form of 'de Molyneux', derived from the French 'moulineau', a diminutive of 'moulin', meaning 'mill'. There was a Norman family called de Molyneux, later Earls of Sefton, who came to England with the Conqueror, apparently from Moulineaux near Rouen (VCH, Lancs, iii. 67, n. 7). Apart from the fact that 'de Molendino' is a possible Latinization of 'de Molyneux', there are a number of other factors that point to a possible connection to the de Molyneux family, as follows:

1. The arms of the Milne and Molyneux families, if I may refer to them as such, are identical, except that the tinctures (colours) are reversed, as illustrated; this is a recognized form of differencing. It is possible that this is simply co-incidence, both arms being canting (or punning); moline becoming a cross moline. The cross moline is also referred to as a millrine Too much emphasis should not necessarily be placed on the similarity in the arms but it is an intriguing fact nonetheless and the Milne arms as shown are certainly what could have been adopted by a younger son or a descendant of a younger son of the de Molyneux family.

The arms of Molyneux, Earls of Sefton (Azure, a cross moline or)

The later arms, before differencing, of various Milne families in Scotland (Or, a cross moline azure). See Nisbet and Paul.

2. A certain Vivian de Molyneux, being 'a younger son of one of the twelfth-century lords of Sefton in south-west Lancashire', accompanied Avice de Lancaster (d. 1190) into Scotland on the occasion of her marriage to Richard de Morville (d. 1189) in 1167. See 'The Anglo-Norman Era in Scottish History' (Clarendon Press, 1980) by Professor G. W. S. Barrow, pages 82 and 187. Vivian de Molyneux witnessed a number of de Morville charters and was granted land at Oxton in Lauderdale by Alan, Lord of Galloway (son of Roland, Lord of Galloway and Elena de Morville) which he later exchanged for land nearby at Saltoun, East Lothian. Professor Barrow states that 'in Scotland the [de Molyneux] surname does not seem to have survived' but he was evidently unaware of the later occurance of the name 'de Molendino' in Aberdeenshire.

3. The Milne family are a 'sept' of the Gordon clan of Aberdeenshire, which means that, at some point in the past, the Milne family have effectively put themselves under the protection of the Gordon clan. Not far from both Oxton and Saltoun (see 2. above) is the small town of Gordon where the Gordon family first settled in the reign of David I (1124-53). The Gordons moved from Gordon in Berwickshire to Aberdeenshire in the early 1300's when Sir Adam de Gordon was granted lands at Strathbogie. It is possible that the descendants of Vivian de Molyneux moved to Aberdeenshire at the same time.

We thus have a possible, indeed plausible explanation (but one requiring further research) of the origins of the Milne family of Aberdeenshire; from Moulineaux, near Rouen in Normandy, prior to the Conquest, to Sefton in Lancashire after the Conquest, to Oxton in Lauderdale and then Saltoun in East Lothain in the late 12th century and from there to Aberdeenshire, possibly in the early 14th century with the Gordon family, when a family called 'de Molendino' are, according to the Lyon Clerk, recorded in that area. For the first time, I believe, we have an identifiable individual, Vivian de Molyneux from Sefton in Lancashire, who may be the founder of the Milne family in Scotland.

It should be said that substantial numbers of (mainly) younger sons of Norman families emigrated to Scotland from England, with a significant contingent coming from the northern counties, particularly Yorkshire. This emigration, often at the invitation of the Kings of Scots themselves, amounted to nothing less than a Norman invasion of Scotland, initially concentrated in the south of the country, less violent but ultimately no less complete than the Norman invasion of England. Some of these Norman families are well-known, such as Bruce and Balliol, both of whom eventually occupied the throne, but others are less so, being knights, squires, clerks and even cooks and others of humble station. Some families achieved lasting prominence, others have left only a name and others have disappeared without trace. Since Vivian de Molyneux witnessed various charters and was granted land, it is clear that he must have been of some importance and was almost certainly a knight. Professor Barrow refers to him as 'an undoubted adventurer hitching his wagon to the de Morville star'.

Eileen Rice sent this into us

My Milnes come from a long line of Master Mason Milnes. This family say McGibbions and Ross in their Domestic and Castellected Architecture of Scotland, during eleven generations may be said to have established architecture as a Profession in Scotland and raised it to and maintained it in a position of dignity and importance to which it had hitherto been a stranger .

Our fist ancestor, John Mylne, is said to have been appointed circa 1481 master mason in Scotland to James III.

John Mylne master mason to king James IV came from Dundee and afterwards settled at Perth. and by reason of his skill and art was preferred to be King's Maties Masons. He died in 1631. The following inscription was put up in Edinburgh to the memory of John Mylne

"Who maketh the forth John
and my decent from father unto son,
of seven master mason to a royal race
of seven successive Kings sat in this place,
Rare man he was who could unite in one
Highest and lonest occupation.
To sit with the statemen, councellors,and Kings.
To work with the trademen in mechantic things .
May all Brethen Mylne's steps strive to trace
Tel one withall this house may fill his place.

Many Ancient buildings testify to the renown of this family of architects. They were engaged at Holyrood and Falkland Palaces at Edinburgh Castle, Heriots Hospital and public works in Perth,

Known as having constructed Blackfriers Bridge.

My family came from Aberdeen area, North East. The wheat growing area that extends out into the north sea between Inverness and Aberdeen.

Ellon, the nearest town to the spot where James Milne was born and raised has among its records as a protest date 1507, among signing it was William Myln.

The last martyr to be burned in Scotland before the Protestant reformation changed the country from Catholic to Presbyterian was a priest from Parish of Lunan (on the coast below Aberdeen) named Walter Mylneor Mill. He was burned at St Andrews in 1556 at the age of 52. Another famous Mylne of the time who sided with the Caholics was Alexandr Mylne Abott of Cambuskenneth.

A writer named William Crismond in the 18th century wrote a book on the Milnes of Banff.

The Milnes furnished the first Freemasons in the far North, they founded the Masonic Lodge in Banff, they met in a quarry in the Gallowhill where their rites were practiced to the horror of their neighbor.

One Alexander Milne br 1699 was a great Jacobite (supporter of the ousted King James and his son, Bonnie Prince Charles, and when the royal troops were quartered at Mill of Alvan (Banffmirs) during 1745, the female members of the family did all they could do to keep him quiet. He kept singing Jacobite songs as loud as he could. Isabel Alexanders daughter married her second cousin James Milne of upper Boyndie, his first wife was Elspet Lumsden, whose mother was a witch. She gave her husband a charm, a small piece of red damask with a small silver coins pinned into with a bodie pin, and told him as long as it was in the hands of direct decent male heir, everything would prosper in the family, It is still in the family but not a male heir.

Many of the women of the Milne family were lace makers, and dressmakers of fine lace and Linen still was practiced when they went to America.

Which bring me to my family of Milne's.

My Great Great Grandfather George Smith Milne brought his family with him in 1896, all expect one son who stayed in Ellon, Aberdeen Scotland. Richard Milne, and his son came to America in 1912 which was my Grandfather Alexander Milne.

George Smith Milne was a Tractor Engineer in Scotland, using a threshing machine and used to go around the north east thrashing corn and wheat. He married Elizabeth Charles, and had 11 children. Then he moved to Pittsfield, Mass USA he took up the job as he was a great Steam Engineer, he worked many years in Macadam Road building in Berkshire County Mass., working on paving roads at Pittsfield main Street, North Street and Richmond Road, a State Highway. You can still see part of his works today but patched here and there.

The Milne women and heirs brought with them the trade of making lace and worked in a lace Factory in Mass, and RI.

In Scotland today you can still see the family homesteads. Take the A 92 north of Aberdeen (closest highway to the coast). At Ellon take A 949 north, about six miles on this road, on the right you will see Blindburn where the family moved to in 1872. Back track about one mile and take a small road west toward Arnage, cross the railroad bridge at Arnage and keep going joining another road north at Drumwhindie. When you come to the fork, take either way and then come to the crossroads, take the road toward the road you didn't take at the fork and Skillafilly where the Milnes lived.

There are many famous Milnes and heirs in the world today.


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