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The Scottish Nation

LUMSDEN, a surname derived from the manor of that name in the parish of Coldingham, Berwickshire, formerly belonging to an ancient family, the Lumisdens of Lumisden. In a charter of King Edgar, who began to reign in 1098, we find the lands of Lumisden mentioned. The first of the family settled there as early as the reign of David I. Gillem or William and Cren de Lumisden attested a charter granted to the priory of Coldingham by Waldeve earl of Dunbar, between the years 1166 and 1182. Adam de Lumisden took the oath of fealty to Edward I. at Berwick, on three successive occasions, namely, in 1292, 1296, and 1297. About 1335 David de Lumsden made a donation to the monks of Coldingham for the redemption of his grandfather, who had been condemned to died for a crime which is not recorded. Gilbert de Lumsden, about 1320, married the heiress of Blenerne of that ilk, also in the Merse, and on the 15th June of that year, he received from John Stuart, earl of Angus, a charger, investing him in the lands of Blenerne, in the parish of Bunkle. On acquiring these lands, the family erected on the banks of the Whitadder a picturesque tower, whither they removed their residence. In 1607 David Lumsden of Blenerne and Lumsden sold the lands of Blenerne to Archibald Douglas, Esq.. Of Tofts. Sir James Lumsden or Lumsdaine, of Airdrie in Fife, descended of a second son of Lumsden of Lumsden and Blenerne, purchased, about 1640, the lands of Innergellie in the parish of Kilrenny, Fifeshire, and shortly thereafter recovered the lands of Blenerne. He had two sons, Sir James, and Robert of Stravithie. The former, Sir James Lumsdaine of Innergelly, a major-general under Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, distinguished himself by the taking of Frankfort on the Oder. He afterwards served in the Scots army, and in 1650 was taken prisoner by Cromwell, at the battle of Dunbar. He was at one time governor of Osnaburg, and afterwards of Newcastle. The Rev. E. Sandys, having married the daughter and heiress of James Lumsdaine, Esq. of Innergelly, assumed the name and arms of the family.

      The Lumsdains of Lathallan in Fife, are a branch of the Invergelly family; John Lumsdaine, major in the East India Company’s service, third son of Robert Lumsdaine of Invergelly, having purchased the estate of Lathallan from Lieutenant John Spens in 1788.


      In Aberdeenshire there is an ancient family of the name of Lumsden, who have possessed the estate of Cushnie, and other lands in that county, since before the 15th century; some of their charters bearing date 24th March 1471. In King’s college, Old Aberdeen, there is shown a complete suit of mail which is said to have been worn by the ancestor of the family at the battle of Harlaw in 1411. A brother of the laird of Cushnie, Matthew Lunmsden of Tilliecairn, in the parish of Clunie, who died 27th June, 1580, was the author of a ‘Genealogical History of the House of Forbes,’ which was published, with continuations, in 1819.

      Andrew Lumsden, private secretary to Prince Charles Edward, at Rome, and author of ‘Remarks on the Antiquities of Rome and its Environs,’ London, 1797, 4to, in an account of his family by himself, published in the Analecta Scotica, traces his descent from the house of Cushnie. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and died in that city, 26th December 1801, aged 81.

      In 1782, John Lumsden of Cushnie sold the lands of Clova and Auchindoir to his cousin, Harry Lumsden from Jamaica, who entailed them and other estates in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine, on a series of heirs, including the family of Harry Lumsden of Belhelvie, whose father was his cousin-german. This John Lumsden of cushnie had five sons, four of whom distinguished themselves in the service of the East India Company. John Lumsden, the second son, was in the civil service of the Company for the long period of 36 years. In 1805 he was called to be a member of the supreme council, an office which he held for seven years. In 1813 he returned to England, on which occasion the governor-general, in a letter to the Directors at home, gave honourable testimony to the “unsullied purity of his character both in public and private life, his official knowledge equally useful and extensive, and the ability with which he had discharged the functions of the different situations, even the highest and most arduous, in which he had been placed.” In 1817 he was chosen a director of the East India Company. He succeeded his elder brother in the estate of Cushnie, and died in London in December 1818, in his 58th year, being succeeded by his only son, the Rev. Henry Thomas Lumsden, a clergyman of the Church of England at Ipswich.

      His youngest brother, Matthew Lumsden, LL.D., rendered himself more eminent than any of his family. He received his education at King’s college, Old Aberdeen, where all his brothers likewise studied, and then went to India. Having become deeply skilled in the oriental languages, he was appointed assistant professor of Persian and Arabic in the college of Fort William, and in 1805 published an elaborate ‘Persian Grammar,’ a new edition of which appeared in 1810. In 1808 he succeeded Captain Baillie as Persian and Arabic professor, and in 1812 was appointed secretary to the Calcutta Madressa, and superintendent of the various translations of English works into Persian then in progress. In 1813 he published an Arabic grammar, in 2 vols. folio; in 1814 he received charge of the Company’s press at Calcutta, which he retained for three years; and in 1818 he added to all his other duties those of secretary to the Stationery committee. Owing to bad health he returned for a time to England, through Persia, Georgia, and Russia, and in 1821 went back to India. Returning finally to England, he died at Tooting Common, Surrey, 31st March 1835, in his 58th year. He received the degree of LL.D. from King’s college, Old Aberdeen, to which he presented his own and a great number of other oriental works. Other two of his brother, David and James, each attained the rank of colonel in the Indian army. The former, when Captain Lumsden, presented to the library of King’s college, a remarkable roll, nearly 20 feet long, beautifully written in Sanscrit, containing an account of the Hindoo Mythology, with grotesque paintings of their gods.

      Of the same family are the Lumsdens of Pitcaple, of Tilwhilly, and of Balmedie, all in Aberdeenshire. Of the Clova branch, William Lumsden of Harlaw, was succeeded by his daughter, Catherine, who married in 1754, John Leith, Esq., and the successor in the estates of Clova and Auchindoir Harry Leith, Esq., assumed the additional name of Lumsden.

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