Editorial information on surnames

The ‘headline form’ of the name is the one you see at the top of the person page. We have attempted to make these forms as easy to understand to the broadest range of people as possible. If the surname is one which is current in the modern world, or is famous historically, such as Bruce, Hay, Lindsay, Murray, or Stewart, we have used this ‘modern’ version of the name. If the family name is less well-known today, we have attempted to use the version most standard in works of Scottish history, such as ‘de Valognes’.

The form that you see in the ‘Name (translation)’ box, for example in a witness list to a transaction, aims to represent more accurately the form of the name that was in use in the Middle Ages. Some of these forms are listed on the right in the table below. Please note that as a general rule, toponymic surnames are given with ‘of’ if the place-name is in Britain or Ireland, and ‘de’ if the eponymous place is on the Continent (also for ‘de’ plus a saint’s name). ‘De’ is also used for unidentified places. Thus the medieval or translated form of the surname is often given in forms such as ‘of Moray’ (Murray), ‘of Ramsey’ (Ramsay), ‘de Brus’ (Bruce), etc. Also note variations in spellings of some medieval surnames: Olifard rather than Oliphant, Wischard rather than Wishart, etc.

Modern and Medieval Family Name Forms

Modern (headline) formMedieval (translation) form
Abernethyof Abernethy
Balliolde Balliol
Barclayof Berkeley
Beatonde Béthune
Brucede Brus
Cheynele Chen
de Beaumontde Beaumont
del Boisdel Bois
de Lascellesde Lascelles
de Montfortde Montfort
de Mortimerde Mortimer
de Mowbrayde Moubray
of Roosof Roos
de Rosde Ros
de Quincyde Quincy
de St Martinde St Martin
de St Michaelde St Michael
de Valognesde Valognes
de Vauxde Vaux
de Warennede Warenne
Graham of Graham
Hastings of Hastings
Hayde Haya, de la Haye
Leslieof Leslie
Lindsayof Lindsey
Maxwellof Maxwell
Melvillede Maleville
Menziesde Meniers
Mowatde Muhaut/de Montealto/of Mold
Murrayof Moray
Muschetde Munfichet
Ramsayof Ramsey
Sinclairde St Clare
Soulisde Soules
Stewartthe Steward