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The Borthwick Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: QUI CONDUCIT (he who leads)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family name, Borthwick. According to a recorded family tradition from the 1570s, the progenitor of your noble house was a Hungarian named Andreas. It is said that he accompanied the exiled Anglo-Saxon prince Edgar the Aetheling and his sister, Margaret, to Scotland in 1067. While the veracity of this tale is unclear and possibly fanciful, it remains a fascinating part of your family’s lore. The name itself is derived from a territorial origin and is believed to have been taken from lands on Borthwick Water in Roxburghshire, which were first mentioned around 1200. Borthwick roughly translates to ‘Home Farm’ or ‘wood farm,’ indicating its association with the farm that supplied the table of the local lord. The earliest recorded individual with the surname is Thomas de Borthwick, who was granted lands in Midlothian between 1356 and 1367. It is likely that he owned the lands of Borthwick and adopted the name accordingly. Thomas’s grandson, Sir William Borthwick, held extensive lands in Midlothian and the Borders, and around 1410, he obtained a charter confirming his ownership of the lands of Borthwick. During the fifteenth century, the Borthwicks gained significant influence and became Lords of Parliament.

The first Lord Borthwick, who was Thomas’s great-grandson, built one of the most impressive fortified residences in Scotland, Borthwick Castle. William, Lord Borthwick, succeeded his father, who had perished at the Battle of Flodden, and was entrusted with the command of the strategically important Stirling Castle, where he ensured the safety of the infant James V. His son, James, enjoyed a close friendship with Queen Mary and Borthwick Castle often welcomed her as a frequent guest. At one point, she sought refuge there with her husband, Bothwell, but they were compelled to flee when confronted by a substantial force led by the Earls of Moray and Morton.

Remaining loyal to the royalist cause during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Borthwicks faced a siege on their castle following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. However, Borthwick Castle was spared from destruction when Oliver Cromwell offered Lord Borthwick honorable terms of surrender. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, various branches of the family disputed the right to succession. However, in 1986, Major John Borthwick was officially recognized as Borthwick of that Ilk, the chief of the name and arms of Borthwick. As with many Scottish families, branches of the Borthwick family established themselves around the world. One notable American Borthwick was Martha ‘Mamah’ Borthwick, a University of Michigan attendee who worked as a librarian and translator. She actively advocated for women’s rights and was involved in a romantic relationship with the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Tragically, Mamah Borthwick was murdered in 1914 by a servant.

This is the remarkable history of your family name, Borthwick, filled with tales of noble origins, grand castles, and influential figures who shaped both Scottish and international history.

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Family Crest Motto: QUI CONDUCIT (he who leads)

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