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The Scottish Nation

RALSTON, a surname derived from lands originally called Ralphston, in Renfrewshire. The ancient family of Ralston of that ilk descended from one Ralph, a contraction of Randolph, who obtained some lands from the high steward of Scotland, which he called after his own name, Ralphston. In course of time softened into Ralston, it became the surname of the family. Nicolaus de Ralston is witness to a donation to the monks of Paisley in 1272. In the Ragman Roll is the name of Hew de Ralstoun of this family. Jacobus Ralston of Ralston is witness in an instrument upon electing an abbot of the monastery of Paisley, whose surname was John Ralston of that ilk. Crawford, in his ‘History of Renfrewshire,’ says that the family were descended from the Macduffs, thanes or earls of Fife. But, as Nisbet remarks, this is not favoured by their arms, for they do not carry the lion rampant, the arms of the old earls of Fife, but three acorns on a bend, intimating that they are of the same race and stock with those of the surname of Muirhead.

In the reign of James II. lived John de Ralstone, who, in 1444, was made lord keeper of the privy seal, in 1448 bishop of Dunkeld, and in 1449 lord-high-treasurer. The same year he was sent ambassador to England, and again in 1452 (Keith’s Catalogue of Scottish Bishops.) He was succeeded in the estate of Ralston by his nephew. In 1505 Thomas Ralston of Ralston obtained a charter of his lands from John Lord Ross. Hugh de Ralston of Ralston fell at the battle of Pinkie 10th September 1547. The son of the latter, also named Hugh, acquired in 1551, from Gavin, commendator of Kilwinning, the lands of Woodside and Turnerland, parish of Beith, Ayrshire. He was the sixth laird of Ralston.

The Ralstons of Warwickhill are descended from his younger son, William Ralston, grandfather of Gavin Ralston, the first of Auchintorlie near Paisley, a man of such singular opinions with regard to religion that he acquired the name of the Pagan. William Henry Ralston, the third in descent from him, a captain in the army, purchased the lands of Warwickhill, and was succeeded by his nephew, Alexander Macdougall Ralston; married, with issue.

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