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The Armstrong Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: INVICTUS MANEO (I remain unvanquished)

Let me share with you the fascinating history of your family name, Armstrong. The Armstrongs, as the name suggests, have always been a powerful Border family. It is said that your family lineage traces back to Siward Digry, known as ‘sword strong arm,’ the final Anglo-Danish Earl of Northumberland. According to tradition, the progenitor of your clan was Fairbairn, an armor bearer to a Scottish king. In the midst of battle, Fairbairn valiantly rescued his monarch, and in recognition of his service, he was granted lands in the Borders and bestowed with the name ‘Armstrong.’

Prior to 1376, the Armstrongs resided in Cumberland. However, in that year, the first of your family in Scotland settled at Mangerton in Liddesdale, which encompasses the southern part of Roxburghshire. The Armstrongs held these lands until 1610 when the final Laird of Mangerton met his fate by hanging in Edinburgh.

Around 1525, John Armstrong of Gilnockie, brother of the Laird of Mangerton, established himself in the lands of Canonbie and constructed a stronghold. By this time, the power of the Armstrongs was perceived as a threat to the authority of King James V. Consequently, the King deceived Gilnockie into a meeting near Hawick, where he and his followers were summarily hanged. As a result, the Armstrongs refrained from supporting the King’s ill-fated invasion of England, which culminated in the defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542.

One of the notorious Border reivers, William Armstrong of Morton, also known as ‘Kinmont Willie,’ descended from the Gilnockie branch of the family. During a truce, he was captured by the English and imprisoned in Carlisle. When his release was denied in 1596, the Scottish Warden, Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, rallied his followers and launched a daring rescue mission, freeing Kinmont Willie much to the anger of Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately, the Armstrongs never fully recovered from the losses of Gilnockie and Mangerton. The majority of their lands came under the ownership of the Scotts, and many families were compelled to seek new homes elsewhere. A significant number of Armstrongs settled in Ulster, particularly in Fermanagh. Among the distinguished Armstrongs are the renowned Arctic explorer Sir Alexander Armstrong and, undoubtedly the most widely-traveled, Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. On that momentous occasion, he carried a piece of Armstrong tartan, symbolizing the enduring heritage of your family.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: INVICTUS MANEO (I remain unvanquished)

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