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The Colville Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: OUBLIER NE PUIS (I cannot forget)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Colvile. The origins of this ancient Norman name can be traced back to the town of Colvile in Normandy, situated between Caen and Bayeux. The name made its first appearance in Scotland when Philip de Colville acted as a witness to a charter by Malcolm IV to the Monastery of Dunfermline, dating back to sometime before 1159. Philip later became one of the hostages for the release of William the Lion under the Treaty of Falaise in 1174. As a reward, he was granted the baronies of Oxnam and Heiton in Roxburghshire, as well as other lands, particularly in Ayrshire. It is worth noting that your family’s ancestral seat, the barony of Kinnaird in Stirlingshire, was acquired by your ancestor William de Colville and continues to be associated with your family to this day.

E’stace, the heiress of Sir William Colville of Oxnam, married Sir Reginald Cheyne of Inverugie, an elderly knight who passed away around 1291, leaving his widow a significant amount of wealth. E’stace swore fealty to Edward I of England and is recorded on the Ragman Roll of 1296, holding lands in Aberdeen, Ayr, Banff, Forfar, Inverness, and Kincardine. Nisbet, in his System of Heraldry, attributes the rise of the Colville family’s fortunes to her remarkable abilities.

In 1449, Sir Richard (or Robert) Colville slew John Auchinleck, a favored individual of the Earl of Douglas. In retaliation for Auchinleck’s death, Douglas devastated all of Colville’s lands, besieging and capturing his castle at Kinnaird, resulting in significant loss of life. Robert Colville of Hilton, son of Sir James Colville of Ochiltree, fell alongside his king at the Battle of Flodden in September 1513. Sir James Colville of Ochiltree, his son, was appointed as the Comptroller of the Royal Household in 1527. In 1530, he exchanged his lands of Ochiltree with Hamilton of Finnart for the barony of East Wemyss and Lochorshyre in Fife. Renamed Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss, he later became a judge of the Supreme Court. Although he faced accusations of treason and had his estates confiscated by the Crown, his forfeiture was overturned in 1543.

Sir James Colville, the third of Easter Wemyss, was a distinguished soldier who fought in France for Henry, Prince of Navarre, who later became King Henry IV. He returned to Scotland in 1582, accompanied by commendations from his French patrons, along with Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell. In 1604, he was elevated to the peerage with the title of ‘Lord Colville of Culross’. The present Viscount, whose father was a renowned judge, is a BBC producer and director who assumed the title and chiefship in 2010.

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Family Crest Motto: OUBLIER NE PUIS (I cannot forget)

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