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Haig Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: TYDE WHAT MAY (Come what may)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family, the Haigs, passed down through generations. It is a story that spans centuries and is intertwined with significant events and notable figures. The prophecy made by the poet Thomas the Rhymer in the thirteenth century sets the stage: “Tyde what may, what’er betyde, Haig shall be Haig of Bemersyde.” This prophecy speaks of the enduring connection between your family and the lands of Bemersyde for eight hundred years, from the founder of the family, Petrus de Haga, to the present chief, the thirty-first Laird and third Earl Haig.

In the seventeenth century, your family was believed to be descendants of the last King of the Picts, although there is no factual basis for this claim. Instead, the name “de Haga” has Norman origins and likely derives from La Hague in Normandy, France. Petrus de Haga, the owner of the lands and barony of Bemersyde, appeared as a witness to a charter of Richard de Morville, Constable of Scotland, around 1162 to 1188, for the Monastery of Dryburgh. Petrus and his descendants were mainly based in the Berwickshire area.

Your family played a prominent role in Scotland’s history. The sixth Laird of Bemersyde, at the young age of seventeen, followed the banner of Robert the Bruce to the Battle of Bannockburn. Gilbert Haig, one of the commanders of the Scots, led them to victory over the Earl of Northumberland at Sark in 1449. James Haig, an adherent of James III, had to go into hiding after the monarch’s murder in 1488, but later made peace with the young James IV. William Haig of Bemersyde fell at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Robert Haig, the fourteenth Laird, avenged his father’s death by capturing Lord Evers, the English commander, at the Battle of Ancrum Moor in 1544.

William Haig, the nineteenth Laird, held high office during the reigns of James VI and Charles I. Anthony Haig, the twenty-first Laird, faced persecution as a member of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, enduring a long period of imprisonment. The grandfather of the present chief, the first Earl Haig, served as the commander-in-chief of the British Forces in France during World War I. His military strategies during the war sparked intense controversy, but he successfully halted the German offensive in July 1918 and launched the Allied counter-attack that ultimately ended the war four months later. In recognition of his service, he was created Earl Haig, Viscount Dawick, and Baron Haig of Bemersyde in 1919. The Castle of Bemersyde was purchased from Arthur Balfour Haig in 1921 and presented to Lord Haig and his descendants.

The Haigs can be traced back to the twelfth century, where Petrus de Haga witnessed the sale of two serfs and a charter from Richard de Morville. While some suggest a Pictish origin for the family, the appearance of de Haga in De Morville’s charter strongly indicates a Norman provenance.

As a significant Scottish Borders family, the Haigs were deeply involved in the political and religious conflicts of Scotland. They participated in capturing John de Bisset following the murder of the Earl of Athol in 1242. In 1296, the fifth Laird of Bemersyde swore allegiance to Edward I of England but later fiercely supported the cause of Scottish independence, fighting alongside Sir William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Peter Haig, the teenage sixth Laird of Bemersyde, fought for Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, only to meet his demise at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. Gilbert Haig, the eleventh Laird of Bemersyde, played a significant role in the Battle of Sark in 1449, where the Scots army defeated the English. William Haig, the thirteenth Laird of Bemersyde, lost his life at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. James Haig, the fourteenth Laird, captured the notorious English commander, Sir Ralph Eure, after the Battle of Ancrum Moor in 1544.

The Haigs were a family deeply engaged in the political and social fabric of Scotland. William Haig, the eighteenth Laird, held prestigious positions during the reigns of James VI and Charles I. Despite his banishment and forfeiture for treason in 1633, the family endured. Anthony Haig, the twenty-first Laird, aligned himself with the Quaker movement, enduring imprisonment during their persecution.

Your family has also produced distinguished figures in various fields. Douglas Haig (1861-1928), born into the famous Haig Whisky distilling family, became the most controversial general in British history. As the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in France during World War I, he led his forces through a long and challenging war on the Western Front. Although his military strategies have been subject to intense debate, he successfully halted the German offensive and ultimately led the Allied counter-attack that ended the war. In recognition of his service, he was made Earl Haig in 1919. George Alexander Eugene Douglas “Dawyck” Haig (1918-2009), the second Earl, served in World War II and became a notable painter after the war, appointed to the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland by the Queen in 1958. General Alexander Haig (1924-2010) served in various high-ranking positions, including White House Chief of Staff under Richard Nixon, Supreme Commander of NATO, and U.S. Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan.

These are the remarkable stories of your family, the Haigs, woven through time and entwined with significant events, enduring lands, and influential figures.

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Family Crest Motto: TYDE WHAT MAY (Come what may)

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