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Heron Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: PAR VALEUR (by bravery)

Let me share with you the fascinating history of your family, the Herons. Your family’s roots can be traced back to Kirkcudbrightshire, located in the southwest of Scotland. The name “Heron” originated from the Old English language and likely started as a nickname for a tall man with long legs, reminiscent of the wading bird known as the heron. Similar surnames of English and Irish origin exist. For instance, an Odard Heron of Northumberland is mentioned in 1308 in connection to the release of Scottish captives in London. However, based on Scottish records, the name is commonly written as “de Heron” (from Heron) rather than “le Heron” (the Heron), indicating a territorial origin where a knightly landowner adopted the name of his lands. While there is no known Heron place name in Scotland, it is possible that it either became lost over time or referred to one of the Herons in England, which means “place of the stones.”

The earliest recorded Scottish Heron is Jordan Heron, who was active between 1145 and 1153 and witnessed several charters of King David I. Walterous de Hayroun served as a clerk to William the Lion from around 1178 to 1180. Robert Heyrun is documented in the Borders during the late thirteenth century, and a Robert Heron is listed as a burgess of Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1302. A century later, Roger Heron is recorded in Berwickshire. Therefore, the Scottish Herons have strong ties to the Borders region and would have been deeply involved in the cross-border raiding and ongoing conflicts between Scotland and England.

These turbulent times persisted for several centuries, although the Herons, along with other riding clans of the Borders, were subdued by King James VI after 1603. Recognizing that the old ways were coming to an end, they shifted their focus to their landed estates. The Herons consolidated their lands at Kerroughtree in Kirkcudbrightshire into the barony of Heron. Robert Heron, born in 1764, pursued studies at the University of Edinburgh and authored numerous books, including a memoir of Robert Burns. However, he faced frequent imprisonments for debt and ultimately passed away in 1807. Patrick Heron, a Member of Parliament for Kirkudbright, married Lady Elizabeth Cochrane, the daughter of the Earl of Dundonald. Their daughter, Mary, became the heiress and married Sir John Maxwell of Springkell, who adopted the extra surname, quartered the family arms, and inherited the lands upon Patrick Heron’s death. The current head of your family is Sir Nigel Heron-Maxwell, the tenth baronet.

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Family Crest Motto: PAR VALEUR (by bravery)

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