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Hunter Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: CURSUM PERFICIO (I accomplish the hunt)

Let me share with you the rich history of your family, the Hunters. Your ancestors are believed to have accompanied Queen Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror, from Normandy to England. In the 12th century, they arrived in Scotland at the invitation of David I. Aylmer le Hunter paid homage to Edward I of England in 1296, signifying their presence and loyalty. The lands of Hunterston were granted to William Hunter by Robert II in 1374, with the condition of an annual silver coin payable to the Sovereign on the Feast of Pentecost.

During the medieval period, hunting was a favored pastime of the nobility, and many individuals in the middle ranks of society, whose occupation was to support this pursuit, were designated as ‘le Hunter’ (the Hunter) in various documents across the British Isles. This designation eventually evolved into the surname Hunter for many individuals. By the 15th century, the chiefly family of Hunters held hereditary positions as keepers of the royal forests of Arran and the Little Cumbrae. It is likely that they had been fulfilling this role since early times, and they claim a long lineage tracing back to similar offices held in England and Normandy before settling in Scotland.

John, the fourteenth Laird of Hunterston, met his fate alongside his king at the Battle of Flodden. His son, Robert, suffered from illness and infirmity and was excused from military service by James V in 1542, on the condition that his eldest son and tenant serve in his place. Unfortunately, Robert’s son, Mungo, succeeded him but was killed the following year at the Battle of Pinkie. Subsequent generations of the Hunter family assumed peaceful roles as Lairds, focusing on managing their estates and caring for their tenants. Construction of the current Hunterston Castle began in the early 16th century and underwent later expansions. Other branches of the family pursued careers as soldiers or professionals, as was customary. For instance, Robert, the son of the twentieth Laird, served under Marlborough, becoming Governor of Virginia and later of New York.

Two prominent figures in Scottish history from your family are the brothers William (born in 1718) and John Hunter (died in 1793), born into a cadet branch near East Kilbride. Despite some questionable ethical practices, both brothers made significant contributions as anatomists and physicians. John’s name is honored by the Hunterian Museum in London, showcasing anatomical specimens, while William’s name is associated with the Hunterian Collection in Glasgow, an extensive and world-class assortment of anatomical specimens, fine art, coins, and books. Today, your family’s chiefs continue to reside at Hunterston Castle, with the present incumbent being Pauline, who has been nominated through the ancient system of tanistry.

The Hunters also held the prestigious position of Hereditary Keepers of the Royal Forests of Arran and Little Cumbrae, and they were steadfast supporters of the Royal House of Stewart. John, the 14th Laird of Hunterston, fought valiantly but tragically lost his life at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Similarly, Mungo, the 17th Laird of Hunterston, met his fate at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547.

Throughout the centuries, the Hunters of Hunterston dedicated themselves to the improvement of their estates. At certain points, the Chiefship passed through the female line, and your current Clan Chief, Madam Pauline Hunter of Hunterston and of that Ilk, the 30th Laird, continues to foster the development of Clan Hunter Associations worldwide.

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Family Crest Motto: CURSUM PERFICIO (I accomplish the hunt)

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