Origins of the clan

There are two main theories on the origin of the name. The first asserts that name is descriptive, deriving from the Gaelic ‘buidhe’, meaning ‘fair’ or ‘blonde’. The ‘fair’ man in question is said to have been Robert, nephew of Walter Fitzalan, 1st High Steward of Scotland. The fess-chequey (see Heraldry) supports this theory, however, it may be argued that it is unlikely that a Norman noble would adopt a Celtic nickname for their family. The second theory asserts that the original Boyds were vassals of the Norman family, de Morville, from their lands in Largs and Irvine. In Gaelic, ‘boid’ means ‘from Bute‘.

The earliest occurrence of the name is found in an Inquisition formed by King David I of Scotland into the lands of the bishopric of Glasgow. The Boyds were vassals of the de Morville family, who received lands from King David.



Wars of Scottish Independence

Robert de Boyd is listed in the Ragman Rolls offering homage to King Edward I of England, however, the family has a strong connections to the Wars of Scottish Independence. Duncan Boyd was executed for supporting independence in 1306 and Sir Robert Boyd was a commander for Robert Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. For his service and valour during battle he was awarded lands confiscated from the Baliols, including Kilmarnock.



15th century

The family’s fortunes rose and they were raised to the peerage by King James II as ‘Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock’ in 1454. Lord Boyd was a trusted advisor and following the death of James II he was appointed as one of the Regents to the infant King James III; his brother, Alexander, was made military tutor to the king. Boyd effectively kidnapped the young king and obtained an Act of Parliament appointing him sole governor of the crown and Great Chamberlain. The family also successfully negotiated the king’s marriage to Margaret of Denmark, daughter of King Christian I of Denmark in 1469, in the process ending the ‘Norwegian annual’ fee owed to Denmark for the Western Isles, and receiving Orkney and Shetland (theoretically only as a temporary measure to cover Margaret’s dowry). Thus Scotland in 1470 reached its greatest ever territorial extent, when James permanently annexed the islands to the crown. The Boyds’ influence of the king was considerable but they were rapidly making enemies, including the young king, as they continued to increase their wealth and titles. Lord Boyd’s son, Thomas was made Earl of Arran in 1467 and married the king’s sister, Mary.

James III eventually grew tired of the Boyds and he summoned Lord Boyd, his son Thomas, and his brother Alexander to appear before the court and parliament to answer charges. Lord Boyd, realising that appearing in Edinburgh meant almost certain death, escaped to England. Alexander, who was sick, was brought before the court and found guilty before he, and his family, were executed in 1469. Thomas was abroad when he heard of the plight of his father and uncle. The king summoned his sister back to Scotland, on the pretence that he may pardon her husband. Mary returned but Thomas remained in Europe. Their marriage was declared void in 1473.



16th century

The family was restored in 1536 by Mary, Queen of Scots and Robert, a descendant of the younger son of the first Lord Boyd, was confirmed ‘Lord Boyd’ along with all the estates of the family. Even during her captivity in England, Lord Boyd remained close and visited many times.



17th century & Civil War

During the English Civil War the family supported the cause of Charles I of England and received their reward after the Restoration when Lord Boyd was created Earl of Kilmarnock in 1661.



18th century & Jacobite Uprisings

During the 1714 Jacobite Rising Lord Boyd supported the British government and commanded a regiment in the service of King George I. His son, Robert Boyd, however, did not share his father’s loyalties and fought on the side of Charles Edward Stuart in the 1744 rebellion. He was a member of the Charles’s Privy council with the rank of general. He fought, and was captured, at the Battle of Culloden. In August 1745 he was beheaded at Tower Hill and the titles of the Boyd family were forfeit. Boyd’s second son, however, retained the lands and succeeded as Earl of Erroll in 1758 through his mother and assumed the name of Hay.



19th century

The eighteenth Earl of Erroll was created Baron of Kilmarnock in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1831. In 1941 the twenty-second Earl died in Kenya leaving a daughter who, although entitled to the Scottish earldom of Erroll and the chiefship of the Clan Hay, was unable to succeed the barony of Kilmarnock which, as a United Kingdom title, could only pass to male heirs. Therefore the brother of the twenty-second Earl resumed the name Boyd and succeeded to the barony.



Clan castles

Dean Castle was seat of the chief of Clan Boyd.

Bedlay Castle was owned by the Clan Boyd until 1642 when they sold it to the Clan Robertson.

Brodick Castle

Callendar House

Portencross Castle

Slains Castle

Law Castle

Little Cumbrae Castle

Penkill Castle

Pitcon Castle

Trabboch Castle.



Clan profile



The Arms of Baron Kilmarnock: Quarterly, 1st Azure a fess chequy Argent and Gules (for Boyd), 2nd Argent three inescutcheons Gules (for Hay), 3rd Argent three gillyflowers Gules within a double tressure flory counter flory Vert (for Livingston), 4th Sable a bend between six billets Or (for Callendar).

The crest badge used by members of Clan Boyd contains the heraldic motto: CONFIDO (”I trust”). The blazon of the heraldic crest within the crest badge is A dexter hand erect and pale having the outer fingers bowed inwards. The crest badge is the heraldic property of the chief, though any member of Clan Boyd may where this badge to show their allegiance to the chief and clan. The current chief of Clan Boyd is Alastair Ivor Gilbert Boyd, 7th Baron Kilmarnock.



Clan branches

Boyd of Merton

Boyd of Penkill

Boyd of Pitcon

Boyd of Trochrig



Associated families

Air Assloss Auchinloss Ayr Ayrd Bankhead Blair Bod Boddagh Bodha Boid Boit Boite Borland Bowie Boy Boyd Boyde Boydston Boyman Boyte Braland Bribane Brown Buidhe Buie Burn Bute Cassy Chrystal Conn Coon Coonie Corshill Cosh Crawford Crystal Cunningham Cunninghame Dick Faerie Faery Fairlie Fairly Farie Farnly Faul Faulds Fauls Fenwick Foulterton Fullarton Fullerton Fullton Gammell Gemmill George Gorman Gurman Haire Hare Harshaw Langmoore Lines Longmuir Lynn MacCosh MacGillabuidhe MacGiollabuidhe MacLorg MacLurg Moore Muir O’Boyd Parris Pitcon Raeburn Rayburn Reburn Rigg Riggs Ross Speirs Spiers Spires Starret Steen Stein Stiret Tannahill Tannock Templeton Underwood Vasser Woodbourne Woodburn

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