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Clan Wedderburn


Lineage of the Wedderburn Family 

This name was assumed from the lands and barony of Wedderburn, Berwick, but at what period is uncertain. It has been said that they were Norsemen, and after raiding the unfortunate inhabitants of the lowlands of Scotland, remained there. I am informed by Mr. T. A. Wedderburn of Footlands Close, Sherford, Taunton, Somerset England that there is a river or tributary in the East Lowlands of Scotland called Wedderburnand he hazards the guess that the family took its name from the locality. He thinks the name Weatherburn or Witherburn would be a corruption because “Wedder Lamb” in Scotland is the same as “Weather Lamb” in England, both being Saxon for a castrated lamb, and of course the last syllable of the name (“burn”) confirms its origin “Sheepstream” perhaps suggesting that originally this family were sheep farmers, probably long before the 1200s. 

Earliest records show that Walter de Wedderburn swore fealty to Edward 1st of England at Berwick-on-Tweed 28th August 1296, while references can also be found to John de Wedderburn in 1364, William de Wedderburn in 1375, 1407 and 1426 – 1452 as well as to others bearing the name in the border country. The lands of Wedderburn passed at an early date (possibly by marriage to an heiress) to a branch of the powerful family of “Home”, and have ever since remained with the Homes of Wedderburn. This is confirmed by the fact that they are a sept of the clan Home, and Sir Walter Scott in his “Day of the Last Minstrell” relates how “the seven spears of Wedderburn fought alongside the Home clan in Border warfare.

Contemporary with the decline of the Wedderburns in Southern Scotland, we find an influential family of the name in the county of Forfar. Then, in about 1400, four distinct but closely connected branches of this family are found in Dundee.  One of these was that of James Wedderburn and Janet Barry, three of whose sons James, John and Robert were among the earliest Scottish reformers, all having united to produce the famous “Gude and Godlie Ballates” or Wedderburn Psalms, while Robert, sometime Vicar of Dundee, was with little doubt the author of the remarkable “Complaynt of Scotland”. From the eldest of these brothers descended James Wedderburn, Bishop of Dunblane, who as the friend of Archbishop Laud, and a staunch episcopalian , was driven from Scotland in 1638, and retired to Canterbury where he died in 1639, and was buried in the cathedral there. His elder brother John settled as a physician in Moravia and left issue, whose descendants are  believed to be flourishing on the continent under the name of “Wetherborn”.

 Two other Dundee families were of Walter Wedderburn in Welgait, father of Alexander Wedderburn of Pittmorie, county Fife, and David Wedderburn in the Murraygait, father of David of Craigie, who married Helen Lawson and had issue. Both of these families are however now believed to be extinct in the male line.

The fourth and most important family sprang from Robert Wedderburn, long eminent in Dundee, who married Janet Frost of Methven, and from whom the Wedderburns, Baronets of Blackness, were descended. He had five sons, James, Robert, David (who had a son, William, belived to have settled in county Aberdeen and of whom no more is recorded) and fourthly Alexander, the fifth son being George, who died without leaving an heir, and a daughter, Elizabeth (1488-1572). Robert's grandson, Alexander Wedderburn of Kingennie, Co. Forfar, born 1561, was in high favour of James VI of Scotland and accompanied him to England in 1603 and was one of the signatories to the treaty for a union between England and Scotland in 1604. On his return to Scotland next year, James VI presented him with a ring off his own finger, still preserved in the family. He married Helen Ramsay in 1582, and died 1626 leaving a family of 5 sons; Alexander, James, Peter (d.s.p.), John (the 5th is not named) and 6 daughters, Elizabeth, Magdaline, Margaret, Marjory, Jean and Elspeth.

Alexander (1) was Clerk of Dundee 1627-33, his lineal descendant obtained a crown charter in 1708 erecting the lands of Easter Powrie into a barony to be called Wedderburn. This branch of the family became extinct in the male line on the death of David Wedderburn of Wedderburn in 1761, but the estates were inherited by the heir of line now represented by Henry James Scrimgeour-Wedderburn, and Wedderburn and Birkhill, Hereditary Royal Standard Bearer of Scotland. James (2) Clerk of Dundee 1626-27 married Margaret Goodman and had three sons, Alexander (Sir) Knight of Blackness near Dundee was highly thought of by Charles II for his loyalty, Peter (Sir) of Gasford, Haddington, ancestor of the Earl of Roslyn, and WIlliam.

Magdaline, afore-mentioned, married Rev. William Wedderburn, son of Alexander Wedderburn of Pittmorie mentioned earlier in this genealogy. 

The first knight of Blackness was succeeded by Sir John, his eldest son, who was created a baronet (first), born 12.2.1641, advocate at the Scottish Bar. The 2nd Baronet was his eldest son Alexander (1672). The 3rd Baronet, Sir John, eldest son born 1700, died unmarried. 4th Baronet Sir Alexander, a cousin, 1675 - 1744 - deposed from his office of Clerk of Dundee for adherence to the House of Stuart. His eldest son Sir John embraced the cause of the exiled Royal Stuart family, was present as a volunteer in Lord Ogilvy's regiment at the Battle of Culledon Moor and having been taken prisoner, was attainted and executed at Kennington Common, near London, 28th November 1746 after being imprisoned in the Tower, when the baronetcy was forfeited. His eldest son Sir John (attainted) born 1729 was a cornet in Lord Ogilvy's regiment at Culledon also, and after his father's death when a "witch hunt" was instituted by the English, he fled to Jamaica where he resided for some years, became a sugar planter, and prospered, and later married Lady Margaret Ogilvie, eldest daughter of the Earl of Airlie. He died in 1803 and after petitioning the British Parliament the title was given back to the family, his eldest son David was recreated baronet, 1st Baronet of Balindean and 7th of Blackness.

Prepared by:

Peter Garwood
L'Eau Salée
Malaucène
84340 France

Send e-mail to: peter.garwood@wanadoo.fr


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