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Rait Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: SPERO MELIORA (I hope for better things)

Let me share with you a captivating piece of your family’s history – it’s quite an intriguing tale! Your family name, Rait, holds a special place in the annals of history. Some say it might have Germanic roots, tracing back to the term ‘Rhet,’ but there’s a strong Scottish origin tied to the place name ‘Rait.’ This name echoes in several locations in Scotland, possibly stemming from the Gaelic term for ‘ring-fort.’ And did you know? The Raits of that Ilk, your ancestors, were linked to the lands of Rait located south of Nairn near Inverness. This connection is where your family name finds its roots.

If you venture to the ruins of the thirteenth-century Rait Castle, you can catch a glimpse of the past. Interestingly, this castle was once in the possession of the Comyns (Cummings), and it seems the Raits might have emerged as a branch of this family. The Comyns hailed from Normandy, their origin in Comines near Lille, France, on the border with Belgium. They even claimed descent from the famed Emperor Charlemagne. The family’s Scottish journey began when Robert de Comyn arrived in England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and was granted lands in Northumberland. His grandson, William, made his way to Scotland during the reign of David I.

Around 1292, Sir Gervase de Rathe served as constable of Invernairn, and he’s believed to be the same Gervase de Rate who pledged homage on the Ragman Roll four years later, after Edward I of England’s significant invasion. The connection to the Comyns might have led the Raits of that Ilk to oppose Robert the Bruce’s quest for the Scottish crown. Sadly, this led to the confiscation of their lands. Despite this setback, the Raits gradually rebuilt their fortunes over the following years. John Rait even became the Bishop of Aberdeen during the fourteenth century, and Thomas de Rait was mentioned as holding lands in Angus and Kincardineshire during the 1360s and 1370s.

In 1405, a pivotal moment arrived when Sir Alexander Gervaise de Raite committed a grave act – the murder of Andrew Calder, fourth Thane of Cawdor. Fleeing to the protection of the influential Keith, Earls Marischal, the family’s journey took them south to Perthshire and Fife. Mark, the fugitive’s son, sealed a lasting connection by marrying the heiress of the Hallgreen estates. This became the territorial style for the principal Rait family thereafter. Notably, David Rait of Hallgreen and Drumnagar received a confirmation charter for his estates from James III. The legacy continued, giving rise to the Raits of Pitforthie and Anniston, branches that descended from the Raits of Hallgreen.

Isn’t it amazing how your family’s history is woven with determination, twists, and connections? Your ancestors’ story is one of resilience, transformation, and a journey across different territories. Embrace this rich tapestry of heritage and remember the remarkable legacy your family carries.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: SPERO MELIORA
(I hope for better things)

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