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Telfer


TELFER: The name is generally considered to have derived from Norman French 'taillefer' = 'cut iron' - so today it may be said that it comes from what was once an occupational name. With such origin its occurrence in the British Isles would have been in England, and it was not until the year 1210 that we find its first mention in Scotland when Willelmus Tailfer witnessed a charter by Margaret Countess of Buchan in favour of Arbroath Abbey. The first evidence of the Telfers as landholders in Scotland regards William Tailfere having confirmation of a charter of the lands of Haircleuch in the Sheriffdom of Lanark in 1369, and in that place his descendants resided for upwards of 300 years. A century later the name had spread, particularly to the Edinburgh and Stirling areas, for Telfers appear in the Burgess records of these towns, indicating that they were already 'men of substance'. It appears that the name prospered in these towns and today, though few are now found in Stirling, many still reside in and around Edinburgh. Thomas Telford the renowned civil engineer was born in Eskdale, Dumfries-shire in 1757 in humble circumstances and rose to become one of the finest of his profession the world has known. Though buried in Westminster Abbey, the greatest monument to his skill is that many of the great works with which he was concerned are still in daily use. Of these we must instance the Menai Suspension Bridge and the Caledonian Canal. It is to be mourned that his genius was not passed to another generation for he died unmarried in Abingdon Street, Westminster in 1834. Telfer families also became established at Linkings in Galloway, and Scotstoun in Peebles-shire, while another is perpetuated by the Telfer-Smollets of Bonhill, Dumbartonshire. This latter race are of the same family as Tobias Smollet, translator of 'Don Quixote', creator of Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker etc. Our greatest scholar of Highland dress, John Telfer Dunbar, was proud of his Telfer ancestry.


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