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Clan Boyd

The name Boyd is thought to derive from the Gaelic for Bute, the island next in size to Arran on the Firth of Clyde. The original family were vassals of the de Morevilles, a powerful Anglo-Norman family with estates in the Lowlands whom the Boyds probably accompanied from England. During the Wars of Independance Sir Robert Boyd was taken prisoner in 1306 and in the same year Duncan Boyd was executed as a supporter of Robert Bruce. Later the Boyds began to appear at the Stewart court; Malcolm de Bute was chaplain to Robert III in 1405 and Thomas Boyd of Kilmarnock who was created Lord Boyd in 1454 became Regent to the infant James III after his father James II had been blown up by a cannon. While in office as the King's instructor he kidnapped his charge and obtained an Act of Parliament appointing him sole governor of the crown. In 1468 he was among those who arranged the marriage of the King to the Norwegian princess resulting in the return of the Orkneys and Shetlands to Scotland as w ell as cementing his position through marriage of his own son to the King's sister, Mary, hence acquiring the titles of Earl of Arran and Lord Kilmarnock. In the end the King with the encouragement of the Boyds enemies, toppled the Boyds from their position and Boyd and his brother Alexander had to flee. Boyd escaped but Alexander was executed. The Earl of Arran also escaped to the Low Countries where he died. His widow, Princess Mary, was then compelled to marry the elderly Lord Hamilton who was created Earl of Arran and thus made the Hamiltons next in line to the throne rather than the Boyds. The line of Boyds did however continue through the second son of Lord Boyd and the title was restored in 1536. The 10th Lord Boyd was made Earl of Kilmarnock by Charles II in 1661 but less than a century later the title was stripped for the part played by the 4th Earl in the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. He had command of the cavalry of Prince Charles Edward at Culloden and was beheaded on London's Tower Hill. The title was passed through the female line to the Earl's second son who inherited the title of the Earl of Erroll and adopted the name of Hay. When the 22nd Earl of Erroll died without a male heir in 1941, his daughter became the Countess of Erroll and Chief of Clan Hay while her brother changed his name back to Boyd and became 6th Lord Kilmarnock and Chief of Clan Boyd. He was succeeded in 1975 by the 7th Lord Kilmarnock.

BOYD: Tradition asserts a common Anglo-Norman ancestor with the Royal House of Stewart, but some assert descent from one of 'buidhe'(fair) hair or complexion. An origin in the Isle of Bute ('Bod' in Gaelic) has also been promoted. The earliest occurrence of the name in Scotland appears in an Inquisition formed by David, Earl of Huntingdon, (David I. 1124-53), into lands held by the bishopric of Glasgow, but the first geographical record is as vassals of the once powerful Norman 'de Morville' family who received lands in Cunningham from that king. Their reputed Anglo-Norman ancestor was Simon, younger brother of Walter the first High Steward, and the fess-chequey in the Boyd arms might support this origin. They supported Bruce in the struggle for Independence and following Bannockburn in 1314 Sir Robert Boyd was granted the lands around Kilmarnock lately forfeited by Balliol. Robert Boyd became Lord Boyd in 1454 and the family enjoyed a brief ascendency. When James II was killed by a bursting cannon at the Siege of Roxburgh in 1466, the young James III was effectively 'kidnapped' by the 1st Lord and his brother, and by the marriage of his son Thomas to the Princess Mary, their influence advanced when the latter became Earl of Arran in 1467. Family avarice brought about forfeiture and flight, and following Arran's death abroad his widow married Lord Hamilton from which union their son became Earl of Arran. Family honour was restored during the Civil Wars of the 17th century, and the 10th Lord Boyd was made Earl of Kilmarnock in 1661. In the 1745 Rising the 4th Earl commanded Jacobite cavalry and rose to General. Following hisa capture at Culloden, he was forfeited and taken to London to be executed on Tower Hill. His second son had served in the Government army at Culloden and in 1751 regained the lands but not the title. On the death of his great-aunt in 1758 he became 15th Earl of Errol and assumed the name of Hay. 

Mike Boyd, Clan Historian

Articles from Mike Boyd are his copyright but can be used as long as you quote the source material.

107 Spurs Drive

Wellington Point   QLD   4160




18 December 2018


Dear Alastair


That is quite OK about the delay.  I lived in Canberra when my late father was the NSW State MP for Byron on the NSW/Queensland border, some 800 miles away, and when we came on holidays, I would have to make sure he put an afternoon in his diary, so he could see his three grandchildren, or he would not be at home to see them. 


While I still have to do my Christmas cards and shopping for the 11 grandchildren, I very much doubt that I will have time before Christmas to even look at your tree form the website and add that data to Chapter 19/975.


While my English expression is not always the best, but when I write, I endeavour to cite the source, and “include” the article or section of the article in discussion relating to the Boyds and them outline the reason why I think that statement is not correct in terms of Boyd history.  Or cite that item of Boyd history and add further details that are known about that topic.


(i)            So, if you, or your staff, think that any of these articles that I will forward are suitable for electricscotland, then I would be quite happy to have my name put down for them.  (And these articles may equally apply to other Scottish Clans as well.)


I normally go by –


Mike Boyd


Historical Committee

House of Boyd Society


I have been Chairman of this group since April 2002.


Since 2006, I have also been a Board Member for the House of Board, but I normally do not use that title when handling queries.  And I have been a member of the Society since 1992.


(While I assume that you do not wish to put a photo to me, but if you do, there is one on the House of Boyd Society website – – which my daughter said over the weekend was not very good.


And the Email that people can contact me on is or which drops to my private Email.


(ii)           While it would be nice to have any article marked as “copyright”, it does not seem to make much difference, these days, as people will pick up items and just use them as they see fit.  Sometime correctly and others to compound the mistake about that issue without any question.


And the other problem is that I am not set up handle queries on “copyright”.  So, do you just add that the article can be used with acknowledgement of the source?Or some other suitable works that permission is given to use the article in discussion, etc, as long as the source is given?


So, if you think that any of these articles or statements need to be copyrighted that is OK.


(iii)          I have learnt to be quite open with my information on Clan Boyd.  And I will be the first to admit that I do not understand all the issues, as you will see in my HISTORY.doc FILE.  And none of us know all about our history or all about any given Cadet Branch.  Where I try to ask question or to see if other people have a different view or understanding of a phrase, etc.


(iv)          I will attach FILE – HISTORY.doc which I mentioned to you when I first wrote.


I think that items # 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10, may be ready to use and to ask questions about Clan Boyd’s involvement in that event in Scottish history.  But they are not the final words, and will need input by other people to see if more can be found and added to this initial outline.  What I call a dynamic history.  Assume similar to Wiki!


While, early in the New Year, I should be able to do Topics # 9, 12, and 25 from data that I currently have.  And I assume that there will be questions that will come out of those topics that have not yet been answered.


(v)           While in “posting.doc” for 2017, I have a number of “history” items.


While item # 1.    The Boyd are Norman and not Gaelic., I have been trying to get some time for some weeks now to re-write.  So, do not use that at present and in the New Year, I will have to put time aside to finish this article.


But items 2-4, are ready to publish.


Then perhaps item 20.        Colonel David Boyd, is not the ancestor of all the Boyds in County Down.


While I have written this from a Boyd point of view, it does raise the question of what other Scots came with Sir Hugh Montgomery to County Down in 1606, and whom were the “next level” under this “landowner” or “chief tenants of Sir Hugh and James Hamilton.


I know that I have a number of questions to ask about whom and where these early Boyds of County Down came from.


Item # 22, is a request to find out why an “A survey of County Down surnames was published in 1858?”


Item # 23 - The family of Alexander Boyd and Eleanor Hay of Cunningburn (townland), Ards Peninsular, Co. Down. – is an example of talking the information from gravestones in County Down and trying to turn them into a family tree.


Item 25 - The five great waves of Irish Migration to the USA in the 1700’s from Ulster. – I assume that many people may know about these five periods of heavy migration from Ireland to the USA in the 1700’s, but it may be an exercise that each clan many need to do to “try” to trace each family that may have come in this period what may be more useful than my article just on the Boyds


Item 26 - The first known Boyd to New Windsor, Orange County, NY in 1726? – is an attempt to try to work out if this quotation has confused the arrival of “several” Robert Boyd’s to Orange County, NY.


Item 29. - The family of Frew Boyd and Margaret Thompson of Cunningburn, County Down. – This is an article that is taking the information on a gravestone and looking at the possible structure of the family and asking a number of questions about what “might have happened” to the family after the mother died.


Item 30. - “The Londonderry Papers”, PRONI Reference # D654 – Freeholders and Election lists. – this is just providing advice on these papers in County Down or in the Ards Peninsular of it, where plenty of Scots families settled.


Item 32. - The dates of the Muster Rolls of Ireland, especially the nine counties of Ulster! – Again, letting people know of this source for One Irish County and asking if these records are available for other Counties.


Item 33. - When did the Boyds first go to New York State and from where? – I maintain a table of each USA State as to when it is known the first Boyd family arrived in that State.  This article looks at what is known for New York State.  And it also tries to “work out” where these families might come from.  My TABLE of “first known Boyd families in a US State” should go on each Clan’s history page to show when “the Clan first went to that State”, and this table could be used for Canada, Australia, and other Counties where Scots migrated to.  In our case, it seems that “most” or “many” Boyd families into PA came from County Antrim in the 1700’s, but I have not been able to work out if that applies to other Irish Counties going to other US States or net yet.


Item 34. - The family of John (John Jr,) Logan Boyd, eldest child of John Boyd and Ann Logan, of Albany, NY and later Charlton, Saratoga Co., NY.  This article questions a published quotation on this family and its migration in New York and Canada.


Item 35. - Has anyone conducted research at the National Archives of Ireland in Bishop Street Dublin? – this item lets people know about the Irish National Archives and should be included in your search for information.


Item 36. - Who were held hostage with Sir Thomas Boyd (7th Chief of Boyd) in 1423 for the release of King James I? – this is questioning whom were the other Hostages in 1423 for King James.


Item 38. - Is this an alternative Origins for the Boyds of Ballycastle, County Antrim, Ireland? – this looks at two possible links between the Boyds of Ballycastle, County Antrim to the Lord Boyds.  But neither explain as to why this family does not show its own “known” links to the Boyds of Kilmarnock, which in in the early 1800’s when Burke’s started collecting family trees, they would have known.


Item 39. - The known family of Robert Boyd and Sarah Hunter (nee Lyon) of Middletown, Orange County, NY. – the first known Boyd to go from PA to NY (and to the Upper part of NY).  An unusual migration path!


Item 40. - A list of some 1600’s Boyd Sea Captains in Ireland. – not sure if this is of any interest to other Clans as a source of data?


Item 42. - Where there two Robert Boyd’s in Orange County, NY between 1726 and 1756? – This article questions a quotation from a book on when two Robert Boyd’s arrived at Orange County, New York.  It raises the question that many readers do not ask - “is the data I am reading correct?”  So, this quotation of 1911 is now judged by further data available in 2018.


Item 47. - The Trial of Major Stede Bonnet and other pirates, including Robert Boyd, October 1718 at Charleston, SC. – this proves a list of those in 1718 at Charleston, SC that were condemned for piracy.


Item 48. - The family of Andrew Boyd, of East Nottingham, Chester Co., PA and Mary Boyd, dau of Rev. Adam and Jane (nee Craighead) Boyd. – This Andrew Boyd’s grandfather, Robert Boyd born in 1678 is often confused by IT trees as the father of George Boyd, Sr. of Compass, PA, who was born in 1691 (only 13 years after Robert’s birth) – which I have yet to get time to write up some articles on – and also mixes him up with the family of Rev Adam Boyd – the fourth of that name – who was a Presbyterian Minister at Upper Octorara, Chester County, PA.  George Boyd founded (or help to found St John’s Church at Compass.  And if I recall Robert is buried at Upper Octorara – a few rows away from Rev Adam Boyd’s family.  The late Dr Howard Valance Jones of Iowa, was a part of Robert’s family but did not make any mention of an connection to Rev Adam Boyd’s family. 


Item 51. - The book Belle Boyd, Siren of the South, Ruth Scarborough, Pineview, GA.- This book claims that their ancestors about 1700 came from Ayrshire, Scotland.  But would need to be read to see if any actual facts are given or not.


Item 53 - What evidence that George Boyd of Compass, PA was born in County Antrim? – an article outlining some of the known facts about this George Boyd and asking questions about his origins and data to support these claims.


Item 55. - The family of Robert Bankhead and Elizabeth (Bessie) Boyd who married in 1688 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. – this is taking data from this website to build a family tree.


Item 56. - The family of James Boyd and Jonet Bankhead of Busbie, in Kilmaurs Parish, Ayrshire in 1666. – This is questioning what some of the data from a website, from the book Scottish Record Society, The Commissariot Record of Glasgow.  Register of Testaments, 1547 – 1800, ed Francis J. Grant, 1901, means in today’s terms.


Item 57. - The family of the last Boyd Laird of Pitcon – Thomas Boyd and Jean Cunningham. – this is an attempt to build a family from one source with data from several other sources and to find out what happened to these 8 children – both male and female.


Item 59. - The family of Margaret Boyd, of Pitcon, and Baillie James Wilson, senior merchant in Kilmarnock. – this asks question about some of the “terms” used and to see if anyone is researching this family.


Item 60. - The lands of Sir Thomas Boyd of Bedlay in Steane, County Tyrone, Ireland. – this outlines the division of his land granted in 1609, but sold by him in 1613 to his brother-in-law, James Hamilton, Earl of Abercorn, but no known tenants are provided for this first known Boyd family in County Tyrone.


Item 62. - Who is Culbert Boyd in the 1630 Muster Roll in County Down in THE LORD BISHOP OF DOWN (ROBERT ECHLIN) HIS TENANT'S & MR PATRICK SAVAGE & MR ROWLAND SAVAGE: THEIR TENANTS, THEIR NAMES AND ARMS – advertising what can be found in 1600’s records.


Item 67. - Are there any sources for the list of Arms on grave inscriptions in the churchyards between Larne and Carrickfergus? – This might allow other families to be able to search in eastern County Antrim for their family?


Item 68. - Not a single Boyd family but a combination of Boyd Families in County Down. – this article is not finished, but shows that it is copied from another IT tree that has confused “several” Boyd families and have not checked the various dates given for the different generations.  It may not be until early next year before I can get back to finishing this off.  But it is a warning to check the dates on IT trees before ASSUMING THAT THEY MAY FIT YOUR FAMILY.  So, it may be used in that context to warn people to check dates on these IT trees.


Item 71 – Is John Boyd (1740 – 1815) who married Jane Bermardoe and lived in Union County, SC, the son of Robert Boyd, the son of George and Isabella Boyd of Compass, PA? – This is also not finished, but does show that the John Boyd of Ballymena who married Jane Bermardoe, is not part of the Boyds of Halifax County, Virginia and Compass, PA or a descendant of George and Isabella Boyd.


While I have finished a number of queries about specific Boyd families in this FILE – DOWN TO PAGE 56 – that may be suitable to show a given point of researching, or simple be done as straight queries, if you do that, there are a number of items that I still have to get time to write up.


(v)           I also have "Remission under the great seal, in favour of Robert, Lord Boyd, Thomas, Master of Boyd, and others for Their participation in the Battle of Langside." [Battle of Langside 13 May 1568],   This is outlined in FILE rems1571.doc


The first pages is as I copied it for the Dick Institute, September 2005, which would now be in the Burns Centre, Kilmarnock.  This remission also lists other names than Boyd.  And in Boyd “history” we are told that they formed Mary Queen of Scot’s bodyguard or part of it.


The second page is the first known list of Boyd Cadet Branches.  However, about half of these location are still unknown to me at present.  While the “old” Cadet names of Baddinhaith [Badenhealth, Dunbartonshire]; Portincross;

Petcon [Pitcon, Dalry]; Pinkill; Trochrig and Boyneschaw [Bonshaw], are listed.  It is interesting in the order that these are listed.  I am not sure if that has any meaning?


I am not sure if you may wish to publish this table, as an example for a Clan that does not know its Cadet Branches, that some lists are able to be found in “odd” places, or as an example of trying to determine where these place names might be located today and how you may go about working that out from modern sources.


I hope that these are suitable?  I will search my PC early in the New Year for other suitable material that you may wish to use, plus some articles on Chiefs of Clan Boyd.


Kind Regards



Mike Boyd

Mike Boyd


Historical Committee, HBS


History file (pdf)
Postings file (pdf)
Remission under the great seal, in favour of Robert, Lord Boyd, Thomas, Master of Boyd, and others for Their participation in the Battle of Langside file (pdf)



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