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Clan Scott: A Brief History


The Scotts, one of the most powerful Border clans took their name from a race, the Scoti who invaded Scotland in early times. They claim descent from Uchtred filius Scoti, who lived in the 12th century.


From him were descended the Scotts of Buccleuch and the Scotts of Balwearie. His two sons were Richard, ancestor of the Scotts of Buccleuch and Sir Michael, ancestor of the Scotts of Balweary. The eldest, Robert, inherited the Buccleuch and Murdochston estates to which he added Scotstoun. The youngest son, John, founded the cadet house of Synton, form which descended the Lords of Polwarth.


The Scotts married well and acquired more lands and in time became one of the most powerful border clans. In fact, by the end of the fifteenth century it was said that the chief of the Scotts could easily call upon "1000 spears" to enforce his will. In an area of constant feuding and war, they gained at the expense of other families such as the Douglases. Once there was peace in the region, many of them went to fight in Holland as members of the Scots Brigade.


The Scott Clan was one of the most powerful of the Riding Clans of the Scottish borders and rose to power in the turbulent, often violent region, where they conducted fierce raids and battles with neighboring clans. The Scotts would gather for battle at Bellendean, near the head of the Borthwick Water in Roxburghshire. "A Bellendaine" is cited in ballad books of the time as their war cry, and it is also the slogan of the clan Scott upon the standard of the "Bold Buccleuch”, as they are known.

From the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the old clan system in the borders was doomed as frontier warfare could not be tolerated in the centre of the united realm. From this time the Buccleuchs became great nobles rather than clan chiefs.


The Lordship of Scott of Buccleuch was created in 1606 and the earldom in 1619. Francis, 2nd Earl had two daughters the second of whom married James, Duke of Monmouth, natural son of Charles II, who was created Duke of Buccleuch. Although he was subsequently beheaded and discredited for rebelling against his uncle James VII, the title passed to their eldest son. The 3rd Duke succeeded to the Douglas Dukedom of Queensberry. Among the many prominent families of the clan are the Scotts of Harden, to which Sir Walter Scott the famous author was connected. The importance of the Scott clan is shown in the splendid marriage of Anne Scott to James, Duke of Monmouth (the natural son of King Charles II) and in the fact that he adopted the name Scott when the marriage was agreed.


The Scotts of Buccleuch are known today for the internationally acclaimed Buccleuch art collection housed in the three great houses of the family. Throughout the world, there are an estimated 861,504 people with the Scott surname, with the most residing in the United States.