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The Agnew Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: CONSILIO NON IMPETU (by wisdom, not by force)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family name, Agnew. There are two possible origins for this name. Firstly, a family of Norman knights from the Barony d’Agneaux came to Britain during or after the Norman Conquest of England. A branch of this family made their way to Scotland, and around the year 1200, William de Aigneus appeared in Liddlesdale in Lowland Scotland. Secondly, there is a suggested separate origin through the native Ulster sept of O’Gnimh, who were hereditary poets of the esteemed O’Neills of Clan Aodha Bhuidhe in Antrim. The name was initially written in English as O’Gnyw and later anglicized to O’Gnew, eventually becoming Agnew. This connection would establish several Agnew branches with a shared ancestry with other renowned names such as Macdonald and Macdougall, tracing back to Somerled, the twelfth-century King of the Isles.

The most notable line of your family was established when Andrew Agnew was granted the lands and constableship of Lochnaw Castle in Galloway in 1426. In 1451, he was appointed hereditary Sheriff of Wigtown. Andrew could have been from either the Norman or Irish Agnews, as both groups had a strong presence in Galloway during that time. Over the centuries, the two groups became so intertwined that any attempt to distinguish them would be meaningless. The son of the sheriff married a daughter of the chief of the Macdowalls, and it was from their son, William, that the Lochryan branch of your family descended. A later descendant, Sir Patrick, was granted a baronetcy of Nova Scotia in 1629.

Sir Andrew, the fifth Baronet, married Eleanor Agnew of Lochnaw, a relative, and together they had an impressive twenty-one children. Sir Andrew served as a soldier and commanded a regiment at the Battle of Dettigen. Later in his career, he defended Blair Castle, the seat of the Duke of Atholl, against the Jacobite army in 1746. Although the chiefly family still exists today, the ownership of Lochnaw Castle passed out of their hands in 1948, marking the end of their 522-year ownership. The current chief and baronet, Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw QC, is a distinguished advocate, herald, and former explorer. Among the various branches of your extended family scattered across the world were the Agnews of Kilwaughter. They are believed to be descended from a younger son of the Lochnaw family, who acquired extensive lands near Larne during the Plantation of Ulster and initiated the construction of Kilwaughter Castle. Many of the Irish Agnews were early emigrants to the new colonies in the Americas, particularly to Pennsylvania.

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Family Crest Motto: CONSILIO NON IMPETU (by wisdom, not by force)

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