Author: Agnes Wilson

When you look into your family history, it might surprise you the number of family names you have in just a few generations. Everyone has a mother and father and providing you know their background, that gives you two sets of grandparents. That multiplies with each generation, and one more generation gives you four sets of great grandparents. That’s a lot of family and think of the names in that list. Just going back to my great grandparents, I have Wilson, Wallace, Campbell, Pearson, Donald, Milligan, Drinnan, so you can imagine the list of names you have by going back one more generation.


I recently sent for a DNA test to Ancestry.com. I had a good idea about where my roots lay, I’m fair skinned and burn easily. I can’t tolerate really hot sun and don’t tan, so I didn’t expect I would be far travelled from the northern hemisphere, but I still wondered if there were any surprises waiting for me. Once I sent the test away, I couldn’t wait to get the results and so it was great excitement the day the envelope dropped through the letter box. Disappointed? No, it confirmed what I thought, a high percentage of Scottish and Irish, a small percentage of English and just a hint of Welsh, but also in the list was Northern Europe. Northern Europe takes in Scandinavian countries so could this mean I have a link to the Vikings, after all they were here.
The name, Wilson, is of English origin so perhaps that’s where the English part of me comes from but having one of the most common names is like looking for a needle in a haystack if you lose ancestors and try to find them. I have a middle name of Milligan which comes from my Irish ancestors, who came to Scotland from Northern Ireland in the early 1800’s.

There are certain names synonymous with Darvel and maybe the families have been in the area for generations but I wonder if any of the ‘Darvel’ names have any clues to their roots. Apparently French refugees, fleeing from religious persecution, brought machines into the area and taught locals the art of weaving. Also, both the Dutch and Huguenot immigrants settling in the Irvine Valley brought with them names such as Gebbie, Scade, Howie and Frame and a colony of Flemings settled in the Strathaven area.

A lot of history lies behind some place names, even Darvel has gone through a few name changes to get to it’s current spelling. Darnevaill in Timothy Pont’s map and to finally Darvel as we know it now. Temple Street getting its name from the Templelands of the Templars in Darvel. Hastings Square from Lady Flora Mure Campbell, Marchioness of Hastings in 1814, because she provided a new school where the Central Church now stands and wanted to turn part of the green into a square.
Occupational names might also give a clue to the dim and distant past, names like Baker, Butcher, Fletcher, Smith etc. Name changes with mis-spellings of by-gone days and an ancient habit of naming a person after a locality. Loudoun as several interpretations but could it come from the Romans, Juliodumum – fort of Julian giving Loudun but perhaps that only refers to the Loudun of the Pointou region in France although with a Roman camp at Loudounhill, could this also apply to our area? Another name ‘weel kent’ in the Valley is Morton and according to my information, Morton means ‘fen’, a fen being a marshy place, a moor.
Wilson doesn’t reveal much other than Will’s son, son of Will, a Scot might be McWilliams, but do do you know who you are?

The Friends of Loudoun Kirk are holding a History and Craft fair in Galston Community Centre on Saturday 17th August from 10am – 4pm where East Ayrshire Family history Society will be there to help anyone thinking of researching their family tree.