Little remains of the Southern stronghold of the Lumsdens, Blanerne Castle, on the banks of the Whiteadder in Berwickshire, save one of the flanking towers. Nearby stands the fine Manor house of Blanerne, rebuilt in 1895 after a disastrous fire. Sadly it was sold by the Lumsdaines in 1929.
The manor of Lummesdene is first mentioned in a charter of 1098, when Edgar, King of Scots, son of St.Margaret and Malcolm III Canmore, refounded Coldingham Priory, endowing it with the villages of Coldingham, Lummesdene, Auldecambus, Renton and Swinewood in the County of Berwick.
The first recorded possessors of the lands, divided into Easter and Wester Lumsden, were Gillem and Cren de Lummisden who, between 1166 and 1182, attested a charter granted to the priory of Coldingham by Waldeve, Earl of Dunbar. Gilbert de Lumisden appears as witness to charters 1249-1262.
The name of the proven common ancestor of the Lumsdens comes into history through an event which occurred in 1286 and which led to the wars of Scottish Independence.
Even by this date surnames were not common in Scotland, but as became a common practice, this family adopted the name of their estate as a surname. From this descend all the variations of spelling now used.
Of course, not all those now bearing the surname are descended from this Berwickshire family and the Lumsden DNA project was set up to try to establish the present various lines.
Alexander III was killed by a fall from his horse, leaving as heiress his baby granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway who was betrothed to Prince Edward of England (later King Edward II). She died on the voyage to Scotland. The Scots Barons, unable to agree on the succession, asked Edward I, King of England to mediate and choose one of three claimants to the throne of Scotland.
From this Adam, the first recognised chief of the Name and Arms of Lumsden, descended Gilbert who was granted the lands of Blanerne near Duns for his support of the Bruce family in the Wars of Independence (charter of 15 June 1329), adopting the Crest of a Erne, or White tailed eagle, preying on a salmon.
Restoration work has been done in 1974 on Cushnie House, and in 1980 Tillycairn Castle, built 1540, was completely restored. Pitcaple Castle has had considerable work done during the last four decades. In 1993 the tomb of James Lumsden of Airdrie 1598 (a listed national monument) in Crail Churchyard and the Lumsdaine memorial in Kilrenny were restored aided by funds from the Association.
Edward chose John Balliol to be his puppet King. When the Scottish nobles urged him into showing some independence his reign was ended and Edward invaded Scotland in 1292, subdued all opposition, removed the national archive, the Crown and the supposed Stone of Destiny to England.
The heads of noble landowning families were forced to sign an acknowledgement of Edward as their King. Adam de Lumisden of that Ilk did forced homage in 1296 and, as did his son Roger de Lummesdene, signed the Ragman Roll.
From Gilbert’s elder son, Gilbert, descend the families of Lumsden or Lumsdaine of Blanerne in Berwickshire and Airdrie, Innergellie, Rennyhill, Mountquhanie, Stravithie, and Lathallan in Fife. His younger son, Thomas, had a charter in 1353 of the lands of Drum and Conland in Fife and East and West Medlar (Cushnie) in Aberdeenshire. From him descend the Northern Lumsdens of Conland, Cushnie, Tillycairn, Clova and Auchindoir, Belhelvie, Pitcaple, Balmedie, Banchory and other estates and baronies in Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Kincardineshire. There are living descendants of many of these families.
The Lumsdens have also given their name to the village of Lumsden in Aberdeenshire, and townships and villages in Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica. Apart from the New World and the old territories of the British Empire, Lumsdens are also found in South America and Sweden.
Contrary to what some publications on Clans and Septs state, the Lumsdens are independent with their own Chief and Tartan. The only Sept of Lumsden is that of Cushnie.
The present hereditary Chief of the Name and Arms of Lumsden is Gillem Lumsden of that Ilk and Blanerne.
Source: Archie Lumsden
Sir James Lumsden
The name Lumsden is of territorial origin, deriving from Lumsden, an old manor in the parish of Coldingham, Berwickshire. Brothers Gillem (William) and Cren de Lumsden were witnesses to a charter by Waldeve, Earl of Dunbar, to the Priory of Coldingham between 1166 and 1182. This is the earliest known recording of the surname Lumsden. However, the first mention of the lands of Lumsden comes from a charter from the end of the 11th century by King Edgar of Scotland in 1098. The first recorded owners of the land are Gillem and his brother Cren.
Many Scottish nobles and clan leaders were forced to pay homage to England’s Edward I by signing the Ragman Rolls in 1296. There are two Lumsdens (or Lummefdens as it was spelled) on this list: Adam de Lummefden and Rogier de Lummefden.
In 1329 Gillbert de Lumsden was given a charter by the Earl of Angus for the lands of Blanerne, after having married the heiress of Blanerne the previous year, in 1328.
By the mid 1300s branches of the Lumsden clan had charters and lands confirmed to them in a number of places up and down the east coast of Scotland, including Conlan in Fife, and Medlar and Cushnie in Aberdeenshire.
During the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) members of Clan Lumsden fought for the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus. Their unit was called “Lumsden’s Musketeers”.
James Lumsden and his men returned to Scotland from the war in Europe to fight on the side of the Covenanters in the Civil War, which was taking place all over the British Isles. They fought at the 1644 Battle of Marston Moor in Yorkshire under Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, which saw a heavy defeat for the Royalist army of Charles I. They also fought at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, this time under David Leslie where Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians defeated them.
Robert Lumsden, brother of James, helped to defend Dundee against General Monck, but he was killed on its surrender. The Chief of Clan Lumsden was secretary to Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the chief fled to Rome. On his return to Scotland in 1773 the British government pardoned him for his role in the uprising. At Pitcaple Castle near Inverurie, the chief’s tartan waistcoat is preserved.