According to George F. Black, in his major work, The Surnames Of Scotland ~ Their Origin, Meaning, And History (pp 617-618), in reference to the surname of Muirhead:
|The first of the name in record is said to have been Sir William Muirhead of Lachope, end of fourteenth century. Probably the same person as William de Murehede who witnessed a charter of lands of Cranshaws in 1401 (Swinton, p. xvii).|
In the book, A System Of Heraldry, Vol II, by Alexander Nisbet, it was noted that the earliest public record "concerning the ancient family is a deed granted by Archibald, Comte de Douglas Galovidiac et Bothwell, dicto soutiforo, Sieur Willielmo deMuirhead in Baronia de Bothwell in 1393, being a gentleman of mettle and spirit, he had the honor of knighthood conferred on him by King Robert III." This would agree with Black's information. Nisbet also noted that, "The family of Muirhead of Lauchope has always been reputed one of the most ancient families in all the shire of Lanark."
The name of Muirhead appeared as an entry in an heraldic register, for the first time, in 1542 in the Armorial of Lord Lyon Sir David Lindsay of the Mount. The individualís given name was not noted. According to Nisbet in his A System Of Heraldry, Vol II, the man by the name of Muirhead residing in Lauchop in the 1540s might have been James.
In 1881 R.R. Stodart published the book, Scottish Arms, in which he provided details on the contents of certain 16th Century rolls of arms. One of those rolls, known as Formanís Roll of ca 1562, included the arms of a man by the name of Mureheide of Lauchope. The arms were blazoned:
Argent on a bend azure
a mullet between two acorns or
Artist's rendition of arms ~ based on blazon
It is interesting to note, though, that arms appear in another document titled Workmanís Manuscript of ca 1565/6 for Murehead in which the colors of the field and ordinary are reversed. That arms is blazoned: Azure on a bend argent a mullet between two acorns vert seeded or. It is possible, though not easily provable, that this blazon actually does refer to the 1542 blazon, but perhaps the recorder simply transposed the tinctures.
It should be noted, also, that despite the fact that this blazon is the oldest known, no subsequent arms (apart from the 1565/6 blazon just noted above) utilized the charges of a mullet between two acorns or.
As will be noted in the arms of David Murehead of Lawchope of 1633, and the arms of James Muirhead of Bredisholme of 1676, both refer to the "surname of Mureheade of Lawchope" or the "family of Lauchop", which in essence would be the same thing. It is natural for one to assume that there was one ancestral family, the head of which was granted arms. It is also natural to assume that these arms for Mureheide of Lauchope, dating to 1542, would have been those of the ancestral surname / family, by virtue of them having been granted to its head or chief.
We may never know why, during the century that passed between the granting of these arms and those granted to David Murehead, the charge of mullet was changed to a third acorn. It may very well have been simply a means to difference the arms of David and James from their mutual armerigous ancestor (who would have been the Sieur Willielmo deMuirhead of the 1393 deed.)
Please note: The images used for the graphics on this page
were derived from the book, A Display Of Heraldry,
by John Guillim, printed in London in the year 1679.