Concerning the family life of Willielmo de Muirhead, Alexander Nisbet, albeit in error, tells us that:(1.22)

“This knight of Muirhead, of the houƒe of Lachop, married dame Jean Hay, daughter of Sir William Hay of Lochernard, anceƒtor of the lords of Yeƒter, and of the earls and marquƒses of Tweddale: by whom he had Willielmus de Muirhead, Dominus de Lachop, in 1445.”

  Willielmo de Muirhead (aka Willielmus and/or William) is believed to have been born circa 1380. If a date of 1380 is correct for Willielmo’s birthyear, he would have been thirty-four years of age when he married Jean Hay in 1414 at Yester, in Leithshire.

  As noted at the beginning of this book, the earliest public record of any person by the name of Muirhead was, according to Nisbet, a deed of land granted by Archibald Douglas to William de Muirhead: “Archibaldus Comes de Douglas, Dominus Galovidiæ & Bothwel, dicto ƒcutifero ƒuo Willielmo de Muirhead” dated 1393. If the Willielmo de Muirhead, born circa 1380, was the same person named in the legal transaction, it would follow that Willielmo was only thirteen years of age at the time that the transaction occurred. It is possible that the Willielmo de Muirhead named in the transaction between ‘Archibaldus Comes de Douglas’ and ‘Willielmo de Muirhead’ was the father of the Willielmo de Muirhead who would, in 1402, be recorded as Dom. Willielmus de Muirhead, miles in Rymer’s Fœdera Angliæ. There is also the very real possibility that the estimated year of birth of 1380 was simply incorrect! For the time being, until such evidence is discovered to prove the birth year of Willielmo de Muirhead, we will assume that the latter suggestion is the most accurate.

  The wife of Willielmo de Muirhead, Jean Hay, born circa 1379, the daughter of Thomas and Christian de Haya, and sister of Sir William Hay of Lochernard, has been variously referred to as Dame Jean Hay or Dame Diana Jane Hay. Her lineage is quite interesting. (See Part IV)

Yester Castle ~ From a painting by Andrew Spratt, used with kind permission by the artist.

  The Hay family resided in Yester Castle. It was constructed prior to 1267 by Hugh de Gifford. In 1357 the estate passed to the de Haya / Hay family through a marriage. It continued as the Hay family seat until the year 1557 when William Hay, 5th Baron of Yester abandoned it in favor of a newer structure nearby. The structure fell into ruin as early as the 1600s.

Top: Yester Castle ~ Photo of the interior of Yester Castle provided by Mike Mackenzie. Used by kind permission - Spectre 2004

Bottom: Yester Castle ~ Photo of the Yester Castle provided by Eleanor and Clyde Moore. Url address:

  Apart from the evidence suggested by the appellation of ‘de Muirhead’, there is no evidence to prove where the family that would eventually become known as “of Muirhead” originally resided within the general vicinity of the village of Muirhead. At some time during the reign of King Robert III (1390-1406), a charter was granted to Sir William Murheid of the lands of Eister Quhitburn in the Sheriffdom of Edinburgh by Adam Forrester of Corstorphine.(1.23) But this reference does not actually pinpoint the location of the property.

  The first residence to be associated with the family of Muirhead is that of the estate of Lauchope where the newlyweds, Willielmo and Jean de Muirhead, took up residence. Lauchope was located a distance south of the village of Muirhead. It was situated to the southeast of the city of Glasgow.

1654 Map Of Lanarkshire Showing The Estate Of Lauchope
~ Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the National Library of Scotland.

  Willielmo and Jean de Muirhead raised a family of four children: William (1415-), Andrew (1418-), Vedestus (1420-) and Janet (1422-).(1.24) Each of these children, and their own progeny, will be profiled in the following pages.

  It was the lot in life, during the early ages, for the eldest son of the family to inherit the father’s primary real estate. In many cases, the other siblings received practically nothing when the head of the house passed away. In the case of titled families, it was also the lot in life of the eldest son to inherit those titles. And so it was with the family of Willielmo and Jean de Muirhead. It will be seen that the eldest son, William, and subsequently his descendants, would inherit the estate of Lauchope in Lanarkshire, while his brothers and sister would need to make their own way in the world.

  Below is an image of the first page of Alexander Nisbet's narrative about the Muirhead family.

From the book: A System of Heraldry, Speculative and Practical:
With the True Art of Blazon; According to the Most Approved Heralds in Europe:
Illustrated with Suitable Examples of the Most Considerable Surnames and Families in Scotland, &c.
, by Alexander Nisbet 1742.