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Laing Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: MERCY IS MY DESIRE

Let me share the intriguing history of your family, the Laings, and the remarkable journey they have undertaken throughout the ages. Your family name is derived from a descriptive term meaning ‘long’ or ‘tall’. This surname has its roots in Scotland, and it is pronounced as ‘lay-ing’.

The earliest prominent mention of your family dates back to the thirteenth century when John Lang of Coldingham, a significant landowner, is recorded between 1250 and 1280. In 1298, William Laing pledged his loyalty to Edward I of England, following the devastating English invasion of Scotland that saw the defeat and removal of King John, igniting the Wars of Independence. Thomas Laing is documented as making a promise in 1357 regarding the ransom for the return of David II from England. The name appears in various records throughout the centuries, with John Laing becoming treasurer to James III and Bishop of Glasgow in 1472, and the name frequently appearing in Glasgow records during the sixteenth century.

Your family name gained literary associations in the eighteenth century. Malcolm Laing, a lawyer and historian from Orkney, made a significant impact with his admission to the Scottish bar in 1785 and the subsequent publication of his history of Scotland in 1800. Alexander Laing, an antiquary, earned a nickname of ‘Stashie Laing’ due to his work as a bookseller and stationer. He published a series of rare and collectible antiquarian writings, including ‘Scare Ancient Ballads Never before Published.’ Another noteworthy figure was David Laing, an Edinburgh librarian who also contributed to the field of antiquities.

In the nineteenth century, Major Alexander Laing made notable contributions as a European explorer of Africa, managing to reach Timbuctoo before tragically meeting his demise. The Laing legacy continued with Sir James Laing, a prominent shipbuilder from Sunderland whose family originally hailed from Pittenweem in Fife. Another illustrious figure of Scottish descent was Cosmo Lang, who served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1928 to 1942. He played a pivotal role in the abdication of King Edward VIII, influenced by the monarch’s affair with the twice-divorced American socialite Mrs. Simpson, who later became the Duchess of Windsor.

However, the most renowned individual bearing the Laing surname was the controversial psychiatrist R.D. Laing. Born in Govanhill, Glasgow, in 1927, Laing challenged the medical orthodoxy of his time with his unconventional views on mental illness. He rose to prominence and became associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, making a lasting impact on his profession.

As you reflect upon the rich tapestry of your family’s history, remember the diverse accomplishments and contributions made by your ancestors. From landowners and historians to explorers and thinkers, the Laings have left an indelible mark on various fields. Embrace their legacy with pride, knowing that you come from a lineage of individuals who have made a difference. Carry their spirit of intellectual curiosity, resilience, and innovation forward, and let it inspire you to forge your own path, contributing to the world in your unique way. The Laing family history is a testament to the power of determination and the pursuit of knowledge.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: MERCY IS MY DESIRE

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