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Maitland is a name of Norman origin being spelt Mautalent, Matulant or Matalan. Mautalents come from village of Les Moitiers d'Allonne near Carteret, Normandy. The name occurs frequently in Northumberland in the 12th and 13th century but the first in Scotland was Thomas de Matulant of Anglo-Norman origin, ancestor to the noble family of Lauderdale. He flourished in the reign of William the Lion and died in 1288. During the reign of Alexander III his grandson, Sir Richard Matulant was one of the most powerful Lowland barons owning the lands of Thirlestane, Blythe, Tollus and Hedderwick. His son was a patriot and joined with Robert the Bruce on his accession to the crown, however he died in 1315. Two of his sons died at the Battle of Durham but his grandson, John, nephew of Sir Robert Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland obtained a charter to the lands of Thirlestane and Tollus. Sir Robert Maitland was in charge of Dunbar Castle but surrendered it to the Earl of Mar on his return to Scotland with Hotspur and Lord Talbot after the cancellation of the marriage of his daughter Lady Elizabeth Dunbar and David Duke of Rothesay. His son Robert, was one of the hostages for James I on the liberation from England in 1424. His descendant, William Maitland of Lethington was killed at Flodden in 1513 with his King. Sir John Maitland was created the 1st Lord of Thirlestane and married the heiress of Lord Fleming. He was Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland in the reign of Queen Mary and his son was created the first Earl of Lauderdale. His sister, Anne married Robert, Lord Seton son of the 1st Earl of Winton. Through frequent marriages with the families of Fleming and Seton the Maitlands became loyal adherants to Mary Queen of Scots even when her fortunes were at their lowest. John, 2nd Earl was a staunch supporter of Charles II and was made Secretary of State, Lord High Commissioner and Governor of Edinburgh Castle. In 1674 he was created 1st Duke of Lauderdale and in 1674, 1st Earl of Guildford John Maitland of Thirlestane built Thirlestane Castle, Lauder. The estate of Lethington was bought by Lord Blantyre in the 18th century who renamed the castle Lennoxlove. The Earls of Lauderdale are Hereditary Saltire Banner Bearers of Scotland.


Dear Alastair,

For the sake of accuracy, can you amend this paragraph?

MAITLAND, a surname of Norman origin, in early times written Matulant, Mautalent, or Matalan. Nisbet, in mentioning the name. (Heraldry, vol. i. p. 292,) adds, quasi mutilatus in Bello, as if it had been first given to one maimed or mutilated in war. There can be no doubt that among the followers of William the Conqueror when he came into England, was one bearing this name, whatever may have been its derivation.

The first on record in Scotland was Thomas de Matulant, of Anglo-Norman lineage, the ancestor of the noble family of Lauderdale. He flourished in the reign of William the Lion, and died in 1228. The early history of the family, like that of most of the Anglo-Norman incomers, relates chiefly to the acquirement of lands and donations to some particular abbey or religious house, for they were all great benefactors to the church, and the ‘Matulants’ formed no exception. Like many Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon families, they settled in Berwickshire. Thomas’ son, William de Matulant, was witness to several of the charters of King Alexander II., which proves that he must have been much about the court of that monarch. He died about 1250, leaving a son, Sir Richard Matulant, who, in the reign of Alexander III., was one of the most considerable barons in Scotland, being the owner of the lands and baronies of Thirlestane, Blythe, Tollus, Hedderwick, and other properties, all in the shire of Berwick. To Dryburgh abbey, which had been founded little more than a century before, he gifted several lands, “for the welfare of his soul, and the souls of Avicia his wife, his predecessors and successors.” His son, William de Mautlant of Thirlestane, confirmed these gifts. He was one of the patriots who joined King Robert the Bruce as soon as he began to assert his right to the crown, and died about 1315.

I attach a list of early Maitland/Mautalent charters, and whilst the first Mautalent in Scotland is shown as   Thomas de Matulent or Mautalent, this is a spurious and exceptional reading - Mautalent is not a place - so the usage “de” is inappropriate and incorrect. You will note that only 4 of the 82 charters include “de”.  Mautalent in Old French means “evil genius” or “foul tempered” and was probably adopted by the first Mautalent as a suitably alarming nickname.   Nisbet was clearly not acquainted with mediaeval French. The usage in French remained current until the 17th century, and the name is extant in the Cotentin peninsula to this day. The family comes from Les  Moitiers d’Allonne, near Carteret, where family members are buried and live locally. 

It looks as though the  “de” was added by antiquaries in the 17th or 18th century to add authority to the name - but the charter evidence does not support this reading. 

You will note that Mautalents had a long history in Northumberland, ending in 1317 when the Mautalent of the day lost his land after being involved in a rebellion and probably fled to Scotland.

You are free to use the attached document Mautalent to Maitland (pdf) on the web site in whole or in part.


Ian Maitland
Earl of Lauderdale
Chief of the Name and Arms of Maitland



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