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Variants, Learmont, Learmond, Leirmonth. An old surname in the Merse of local origin derived from the lands of Learmonth, Berwickshire, meaning 'of Learmonth.' This name is of Scottish descent and is found in many ancient manuscripts in the above country. Examples of such are a William de Leirmonth who was a juror on an inquest held in Swinton in 1408 and Alexander Leyremonth was clerk of works of the town and castle of Berwick in the year 1434. Names were recorded in these ancient documents to make it easier for their overlords to collect taxes and to keep records of the population at any given time. When the overlords acquired lands by either force or gifts from their rulers, they created charters of ownership for themselves and their vassals. Other examples of this name were found in the person of William of Learmonth who was summoned in 1479 to answer to Parliament for treason and other crimes and John Learmont published a volume of Poems in Edinburgh in 1791. 

From: Tatiana Molchanova, PhD,
Scientist, Genealogist.
11405 Commonwealth Dr.#104,
Rockville, MD 20852, USA.

September 5, 2008

“Learmonths-Lermontovs. Origin &History of the Surname and Families 1057 2007”
by Tatiana Molchanova, Russia & Rex Learmonth, Great Britain, 2008.


Copyrights are preserved at the Copyrights Office, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA, 2007.


This is the first study devoted to the Scottish Clan Learmonth and the origins of the Russian Lermontov family who are derived from this clan.   

The main object of this research which resulted in a book is to identify the origin of the name Learmonth and the history of the family from its beginnings to the present day.

The name Learmonth is one of the most ancient Scottish surnames and has a history going back to the year 1057. The surname Learmonth and its multiple spelling can be divided into two parts for example Lear+month or Leir+mouth.  Both parts fit well together to classify the surname Learmonth as topographic. The surname has a French origin. But in XI century this name would have been written as Leuremue or possibly Leuremuere (Leure+mue and Leure+muere) and not spelt as in the manuscripts of the XIV-XVI centuries namely Leirmonth / Leirmouth/ Leirmond. The first root Leure (also spelt as Leir, Leira, Leiro, Leire, Lyuer, Leyre, Leure, Lejre) had the meaning of “clear water” something that is “shining, glittering” and sounds similar to an old French surname Luyrieux. The Luyrieux family was known in France from the XI century and had a coat of arms which could very likely be the pre-Leirmouth coat of arms: “Or, chevron sable”. The second root mue/muere the ancient Leuremue surname fits well with the meaning “merge” in old French. As a result we interpret Leuremue: (Leure and mue) as the merging of two waters or the merging of two rivers.

In 1057, when Malcolm III required fighting men in his war for the Scottish crown, Edward the Confessor encouraged knights under his influence to support Malcolm with the promise of a land grant as payment for their services. The land granted to the knight with the name that sounded as Leuremue (Luyrieux) in payment for his service was where the villages of East and West Learmouth are today. The place was probably called by the name of its new owner who kept the first root Luyr/Leure and added the second root “mue” because the granted land was situated at the mouth of a stream which merged with the River Tweed.                                    

 The very first record of the Learmonth surname was found in the Great Rolls of the Exchequer: Feet of Fines in the Public records office of the Seventh and Eighth years of King Richard I, A.D. 1196 to A.D. 1197, London. The surname was spelt as Leuremue / Leuremuere/ Luiremuere, which illustrates that the spelling of the place name and the surname in the XII century was very similar.

Analysis of the records where the Learmonth surname was register in XII-XXI centuries shows that the evolution of the spelling of the village of Learmouth was approximately parallel with that of the evolution of Learmonth surname: Leuremue/Leuremuere ą Leirmouth/Leirmonthą Learmouth/Learmonth. The second root ‘mouth’ was substituted with ‘month’ in the name. This was a very common occurrence for English / Scottish surnames. Later in establishing himself as a member of the nobility of Scotland Leirmonth designed his coat of arms with the same chevron and colour as that of the Luyrieux family but adding three muscles over the chevron  which   was awarded to him for his special talent - a tactic of fighting, which then made it an individual bearing.

Historians generally agree that the legendary Scottish prophet and poet Thomas Rhymer (1220-1297) was a member of this ancient family. Ten generations from 1420 to 1657 of the Learmonth family of   Fife held the highest administrative positions in the city of St Andrews and played an historical role in the struggle between the Catholics and Protestants during the period of the reformation. The mother of the Scottish martyr George Wishart (1513-1546) was a member of the Fife Learmonth family who eventually became relatives of the Scottish Monarchy through their marriages. The children of Sir George Learmonth of Balcomie (c. 1525-1585) were the fourth cousins of Mary Queen of Scots. George Leirmont (c. 1580-1634) - the progenitor of the Russian Lermontov families and the Great Russian poet Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov was a member of this Fife Learmonth family. Sir John Learmonth of Balcomie (c. 1560-1625) was Lady Diana's twelve-Great Grandfather. The Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, has an Avenue, a Terrace, a Grove, a hotel and other places named after John Learmonth (1789-1858) a Provost of the city. The unforgettable Scottish composer George Learmonth Drysdale (1866-1909) was called the Scottish Grieg. Sir James Learmonth (1895-1967) is called the father of the modern neurosurgery. Sir James Learmonth was a personal doctor to the King George VI and also to Queen Elizabeth II during their visits to Scotland.

Learmonth families were among the pioneer settlers in Australia, New Zealand, and USA. There are a number of locations named Learmonth in Australia. The Learmonths impact is notable in the progress of many countries. The genealogy of the huge family of Russian Lermontovs who originated from the Scottish Learmonths is well attested. They live not only in Russia but also in Brazil, Morocco, France, Spain and the USA.

The books cover is decorated with the Russian Lermontov Tartan. This Tartan is registered with “The Scottish Tartans Authority” and was presented in August 2007 to the Lermontov family at Serednikovo, Moscow Region, Russia, by Mr. Brian Wilton, the Director of “The Scottish Tartans Authority”.  The Lermontovs are the first Russian family of Scottish origins who have their own registered tartan.

The presentation of the book took place at Serednikovo, Russia, at the opening ceremony dedicated to the 950th Anniversary of the Learmonth-Lermontov Surname (06.08.07), then in the Central Library by name poet M. Yu. Lermontov in St. Petersburg (09.08.07). The book was also presented at the TV channel Petersburgskie Vesti (10.08.07).

The publication of this book received support from the Association “Lermontovs Hereditary”, Moscow, Russia. The short version of this book has been published in Russian, Publishing House: University Book, Logos, 96c., illus.., Moscow, Russia, May 2008. 

Please, see


Main references:

“The lives and Characters of the most Eminent Writers of he Scots Nation” by George Mackenzie (1636-1690), MD, published in Edinburgh, 1708, last edition 1971; v. II, chapter “The life of William Elphinston” (1431-1514), page 72.

“Boece, Hector Scotorum historiae a prima gentis origine, cum aliarum et rerum et gentium illustratione non vulgari, Libri XIX. Hectore Boethio Deidonano auctore. Duo postremi huius historiae libri nunc primum... Paris. Vaenundantur a Iacobo du Puys sub signo Samaritanae, prope collegium Cameracense, 1574.”

Beauvois and Felix Henri Antoine Research on the Geographical Field:  The derivatives and compounds of an international phoneme, Leir, Leira, Leiro, leire, Leyre, Leure, Lejre and the Loire”, Bordeaux Pessac: lauteur, Saint Paul-Fontaudin, 1967.

“George Benson Kuykendall.  Papers, 1881-1931”, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.

"Roman Camps in England - The Field Archaeology by the R.C.H.M.E"; Temporary Marching Camp East Learmouth, Northumberland»; The Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills,  Oxford 1991; Guy De La Bedoyere Roman Britain: A New History, 2006).

The Great Rolls of the Exchequer: Feet of Fines in the Public records office of the Seventh and eighth years of King Richard I, A.D. 1196 to A.D. 1197, London: printed by Wyman & Sons. Lim., Great Queen Street, Lincolns Inn Fields, 1896; page 43, Suffolk, Ric. I, № 24, 3 Dec. 1196.

Rotuli de libertate ac de misis et Praesttitis, Regnante Johanne”. Cura T. Duffus Hardy, London, 1844, pages: 52, 72, 95.

The oldest extant pipe roll dates from the 31st year of the reign of Henry I (1130).

Pipe Rolls and Assize Rolls for Northumberland 12th and 13th centuries.

Calendar of memoranda rolls (Exchequer) preserved in the Public Record Office: Michaelmas 1326, Michaelmas 1327.  London, H.M.S.O., 1968, pages 382-385, 2271: xxiv.

"The Surnames of Scotland. Their origin, meaning, and history" by George F Black, PhD, first printing 1946.

The Scottish Nation; Or The Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours. & Biographical History Of The People, 1864.

"Fyvie Castle. Its lairds and their times” by A.M.W. Stirling, 1928, edited and updated in 2005 by Sue Coburn.

“St Andrews Kirk Session Register  1559-1600, Edinburgh, 1889-1890.

S. Solovyov  “History of Russia

Vasilii Storozhev, “Georg Lermont. The Progenitor of the Russian Lermontov Family” , Moscow, Russia, 1894.

"Оfficial government source of genealogical data for Scotland»

“History of the county of Fife” by John M. Leighton published by Joseph Swan. MD CCCXL; pp. 260-261”

“The Martial Achievements of the Scots Nation” by P. Abercromby, Edinburgh, 1711, v. 1, page 161

Proceedings of the Society, 9th April 1900, page 418

“Pluscarden Benedictines”, # 134, Christmas 2004, pp. 8-9

Protocol book of Sir Alexander Gaw, 1540-1558. Ed. by the Rev. John Anderson and William Angus. Edinburgh, Printed for the Society by J. Skinner, 1910

Fife: pictorial and historical; its people, burghs, castles, and mansions” by A. H. Millar. Cupar-Fife, A. Westwood & son; [etc., etc.] 1895, pages 383-384

George Buchanan    “Rerum Scoticarum Historia”,  Paris, 1582.

“Protocol books” of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578, Edinburgh, 1917.

“Life of George Wishart”, Edinburgh, 1876.

“Foxes Book of Martyrs”, USA, Whitaker House, 1981, pp. 236-262

National Library of Scotland: Learmonth family, of Dairsie & Balcomie, Fife: 3 documents relating to, 1620-51 (Acc. 10940). Round Genealogy of the Clan Learmonth 1473-1600, St. Andrews, Fife. The document is dated 1620-1652.

Steve Murdoch and Alexia Grosjean in the well known records “Scotland, Scandinavia & Northern Europe, 1580-1707”, 1998-2006 (SSNE Database).

Many others documents and books.

September 5, 2008
Tatiana Molchanova & Rex Learmonth.



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