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The Boyd Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: CONFIDO (I trust)

Let me share the fascinating history of your family name, Boyd. The Boyds were a prominent family in the South West of Scotland, and it is believed that the name has a descriptive origin, derived from the Gaelic word ‘buidhe’, meaning fair or yellow. The first fair-haired man associated with the name was said to be Robert, the nephew of the first High Steward of Scotland. However, there have been debates about this explanation, as the Steward’s retinue consisted mostly of Normans rather than Gaelic individuals, which the surname suggests. Another theory suggests that the name may refer to a place rather than a quality. The Isle of Bute, known as Bhòid in Gaelic, was owned by the High Stewards, and it is possible that a younger son of the family received the place name as his designation. The earliest mention of the Boyds in Scottish sources is Sir Robert Boyd, who served as one of Bruce’s commanders at the Battle of Bannockburn. As a reward, he was granted lands including Kilmarnock and other properties in Ayrshire. The Boyds constructed the impressive Dean Castle at Kilmarnock, which still stands today.

The family’s fortunes continued to rise, and they were elevated to the peerage by James II. Lord Boyd was appointed one of the regents to the young James III, and his son, Thomas, married Princess Mary, the king’s sister, and was granted the title of Earl of Arran. However, their rapid ascent also made them many enemies. In 1469, Lord Boyd and his son, the Earl of Arran, were summoned to face charges against them. Lord Boyd managed to escape to England, but his brother, Sir Alexander, was executed for treason.

The family later regained royal favor when Robert, a descendant of the younger son of the first Lord Boyd, received confirmation from Queen Mary of all the family’s estates and honors. Lord Boyd joined the queen at Hamilton after her escape from Loch Leven Castle and fought alongside her at the Battle of Langside in 1568. In 1661, William, Lord Boyd, was granted the title of Earl of Kilmarnock. However, the fourth Earl, a Jacobite, fought at Culloden, where he was captured and ultimately beheaded in 1746. As a result, all the Boyd titles were declared forfeit. Yet, his eldest son succeeded through his mother to the Earldom of Erroll and adopted the name Hay. In 1941, the brother of the twenty-second Earl resumed the name of Boyd and inherited the barony of Kilmarnock. Today, branches of the Boyd family can be found all across the globe, representing the enduring legacy of your family name.

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Family Crest Motto: CONFIDO (I trust)

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