A Representation Of The Arms Of Willielmo de Muirhead ~ 14th Century
~ Created by Larry D. Smith from heraldic descriptions.


  Historians have noted that the family of Muirhead was one of the ancient families of the shire (i.e. county), of Lanark.(1.1)

"The Family of Muirhead of Lachop, or Muirhead of That-Ilk, has been always repute one of the ancienteフ Families in all the Shire of Lanerk."..."The Sirname de Morehead, or Muirhead, is like other Sirnames of the greateフ Antiquity, local, taken from Lands, from whence either the Proprietor took a Denomination, when fixed hereditary Sirnames became cuフomary; or took an Appellation from the Lands, as バon as he obtained them; for it is a Maxim amongフ Antiquaries, that 奏is a ブfficient Document of an ancient Deツent, where the Inhabitant has the Sirname from the Place he inhabiteth.

  It was in the valley of the Clyde River, on the southern border of the highlands of Scotland, to the west of Edinburgh, and midway between it and Glasgow, in the Clydesdale county of Lanarkshire, in the Parish of Bothwell, that the lands of Lauchope and Lauchope House were located. And it was Lauchope that was first associated with the name of Muirhead.

1770 Map of Scotland ~ From the private collection of Larry D. Smith.
From A New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar; And Present State Of The Several Kingdoms of the World.

  In order for us to flesh out a history of this Family of the Muirheads of Lachop", we should begin by identifying a starting point when the family first became known to reside in Scotland.

  According to R.R. Stodart in his book, Scottish Arms, published in 1881,(1.2) one of the 16th Century heraldic rolls of arms, known as Forman痴 Roll of ca 1562, included the arms of a man by the name of Mureheide of Lauchope. But the family痴 origins may be found to have existed earlier than that. Alexander Nisbet in his book, A System Of Heraldry, published in 1742,(1.3) wrote that:

"So much is certain, for the Antiquity of the Sirname and Family of Muirhead, that they have been fixed in the Barony of Bothwel, before the Reign of King Alexander II."

{Alexander II痴 reign lasted between 1214 and 1249 AD.}

  But even Nisbet took the line farther back in time when he noted that:(1.4)

"and バ we may rationally, and without フretching Things, conclude, That the Muirhead Family were fixed, and Proprietors of the Lands of Muirhead, as far back as the Reign of King William, or バoner, for what we know, even up to the Time that Sirnames began to be taken up, and Men began to call themテlves after their own Lands; which, is agreed, was not the Cuフom generally gone into, before the Reign of King David I, Anno 1122."

  Alexander Nisbet had no factual evidence to substantiate his assumption that the Muirhead family should be dated to the early part of the 12th Century. He simply stated that the custom of taking territorial surnames began about that time.

  The earliest public record of any person by the name of Muirhead was, according to Nisbet,(1.5) a deed of land granted by "Archibaldus Comes de Douglas, Dominus Galovidiæ & Bothwel, dicto ツutifero ブo Willielmo de Muirhead" dated 1393. That date corresponds to a tradition that dates from the reign of King Robert II {1371-1390}. Again, quoting Alexander Nisbet:(1.6)

"The Tradition goes, and, as I had it from a learned and curious Antiquary, who was alバ a gentleman of great reputation and integrity, that the laird of Muirhead of That-ilk, de Muirhead, as I have often found them deナgned, in the time of king Robert II, got the lands of Lachop, and others, for aピaulting and killing a great robber that infeフed all that part of the country, by violent ravages and depredations, which he carried to a very inブfferable degree; バ that at length the government were obliged to take notice of him; and, by a public act, notified, "Thet whoバever ドould apprehend, kill him, or bring him to juフice, ドould be rewarded with ブch and ブch lands." His name, the tradition tells us, was Bartram de Shotts: he was a terror to every body that reナded near him, or who had occaナon to paピ eaフ or weフ through thoテ parts where he lurked, and had his haunts. The laird of Muirhead, at the time, was a bold, daring, intrepid man; he did not ブrprize him in his lurking places, but with a few in his company, to whoテ courage and valour he could well truフ, came up, and in the day-time attacked him in that valley on the eaフ-ナde of the kirk of Shotts, when, after a pretty ノart encounter, the Goliath Bartram was ネain on the place. The laird of Muirhead cut the head off this robber, which he carried フreight to the king, who immediately, in the terms of the proclamation, ordered him a charter and infeフment of theテ lands that were then, or バon after called Lachop; and gave him, as an additional honour to his arms, the three acorns in the テed, on the bend dexter; for creフ, two hands ブpporting a ヘord in pale, proper; and the motto, Auxilio Dei, which is born by the family to this day."

  According to Margaret Stuart in her book, Scottish Family History, A Guide to Works of Reference on the History and Genealogy of Scottish Families, there are only a few published sources of Muirhead history. They include: A System Of Heraldry, by Nisbet (1742), Volume II: Appendix, pages 258-268; An Account Of The Muirheads Of Lachop, by Walter Grosett of Logie; and Burke's Landed Gentry, (1846). Of course, Mrs. Stuart compiled her list of books that had been published in Scotland. To that list should be added three volumes published by American Muirhead family members: The Morehead Family Of North Carolina And Virginia, by John Motley Morehead (1921); The Henry Muirheid/Muirhead Family Of Virginia & Mississippi, by Ray Jerome Muirhead (1989), and Tree Top Baby: A Family Tree Of Moorhead And Strong, by Susan Moorhead / Nunes, Volume I (1984).

  There are certain public documents, such as deeds, charters and the like, which provide some clues to the history of the Muirhead family, but they are few due to the tragic history of Scotland's public archives. Many of the earliest records were removed from Scotland by the English during the various conflicts between the two nations during the 11th through the 16th Centuries. As part of the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1328, and England痴 recognition of Scotland痴 independence, her public records were supposed to be returned from London, where they had been deposited. But they were not returned until much later; in 1948 some two hundred documents made their way back to Scotland. During the Second English Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentary Army invaded Scotland to counter the Scots support of Charles II, the nation痴 archives of public documents were stored in Edinburgh Castle. Following the defeat of Charles II and the Scottish army at Worcester on 03 September, 1650, the archives were removed to the greater safety of Stirling Castle. Stirling Castle was taken in August of 1651, and at that time the bulk of the public documents were removed to London, while some were pilfered by the castle痴 own garrison. Only some were rescued by state officials. Legal registers were intended to be returned in 1657 in order that the country痴 routine affairs could be continued as before. But as they were being returned, one of the two ships that were transporting them northward went down in a storm off the Northumbrian coast. As would be expected, all the documents on that ship were lost. As new public documents were generated over the years, they were maintained in Laigh Hall of the Parliament House. The storage conditions were by no means what we would consider adequate, and over the years many of the documents simply rotted or were eaten by rats. Following the Jacobite Rising of 1745, funds culled from the forfeited estates of the clans that had participated in the Rising were used to build a repository for the public archives, which was called the General Register House.
  A comprehensive history of the family of the Muirheads, thusly, must be deduced partly from fact and partly from legend.

  The icons below link to pages devoted to the descendants of William and Mariota Muirhead.