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Skene Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: VIRTUTIS REGIA MERCES (A palace the reward of bravery)

Let me take you through the captivating history of your family name, Skene. The traditional tale that traces the origins of the name to an eleventh-century legend of the Robertsons is both fascinating and heartwarming. According to the story, a courageous younger son of Robertson of Struan saved the king’s life by bravely defeating a fierce wolf with nothing but a small dagger, or ‘sgian’. This remarkable feat is immortalized in your family’s coat of arms, showcasing three wolves’ heads impaled on daggers, or ‘durks,’ as they are now described. While this tale has a certain charm, it’s important to note that the true origin of the name lies in the placename itself, which means a place of bushes or hawthorns.

The historical records reveal that the first recorded bearer of the name was John de Skeen, who lived during the reign of Malcolm III in the late eleventh century. This early connection is intriguing, but it’s worth acknowledging that the name’s origin might actually be linked to the placename, rather than the other way around. The story of the heroic sgian-wielding ancestor is a delightful narrative that might have more to do with the clever wordplay of heraldic symbolism than historical fact. As for the supposed connection to the Robertsons, its authenticity remains uncertain.

Delving further into your family’s past, we find notable figures who left their mark on history. John de Skene, the great-grandson of the earlier John, held these lands during the time of Alexander III. Patrick, his son, appears in the annals of history through the Ragman Rolls of 1296, a document signaling submission to Edward I of England. Yet, your family’s allegiance shifted decisively in favor of Robert the Bruce, as members such as Adam de Skene stood bravely in the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, while Alexander Skene de Skene’s name is etched among the fallen in the tragic Battle of Flodden in 1513.

The Skenes remained steadfast and true, displaying their loyalty through various trials and tribulations. It’s important to note that your family’s support of Charles I led to exile, a testament to the convictions that shaped your ancestors’ lives. The chief’s valiant service with the Swedish armies under King Gustavus Adolphus speaks to their unyielding spirit.

Branches of your family, such as the Skenes of Dyce, Halyards, Rubislaw, and Curriehill, further enriched the family’s legacy. Distinguished individuals emerged, like Sir John Skene of Curriehill, who excelled in law and was appointed to the Court of Session in 1594. His lineage, including his son who became a Baronet of Nova Scotia, continued to add honor to your family name.

Throughout the years, your family remained closely intertwined with history and prominent personalities. Noteworthy individuals like John Skene of Halyards, a key figure in the judicial domain, and James Skene of Rubislaw, a dear friend of Sir Walter Scott, highlight the impact of your family members on broader society. William Forbes Skene’s contributions as a celebrated writer and historian further add to the family’s impressive legacy, culminating in his appointment as historiographer royal for Scotland in 1881.

A momentous milestone was achieved in 1994, when the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, recognized Danus Skene of Halyards as the rightful chief of the name and arms of Skene. As you explore your family’s past, you can’t help but be uplifted by the legacy of courage, dedication, and achievement that your ancestors have bequeathed to you.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: VIRTUTIS REGIA MERCES (A palace the reward of bravery)

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