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Origins of Medieval Forenames

Clues of Alliances and Affinities

Alexander – One of the most common and widespread McCulloch forenames. First records occur in 1436 in land grant of certain Ross-shire lands from Alexander Lord of the Isles (Clan McDonald) to Alexander McCulloch. Possibly originally adopted to honor King Alexander II.

Andrew – Common name used at least by Ardwell, Drummorrell, and Ross-shire lines. Ultimately the name is associated with St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. Perhaps coincidentally, John Balliol was crowned king on St. Andrews Day.

Angus – A name common to the Ross-shire McCullochs only. The name may ultimately originate from Angus Og of Islay, an ancestor of Alexander Lord of the Isles who granted Ross-shire lands to Alexander McCulloch.

Archibald – Occasionally used during the 14th century. The name may be associated with Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway.

David – More commonly used among the Ross-shire McCullochs where it likely arose on the maternal side via the Rosses. First use in Galloway may have been by David McCulloch of Conquhietoun, then Barholm. The Galloway origin is unknown.

Gilbert – An early McCulloch name with Norse origins. Gilbert was an early McCulloch who served as the valet to King Edward I. Later there is a Gilbert McCulloch of Cardoness. The name might ultimately be associated with Somerled’s father Gillebride. The last McCulloch chief was named “Gilbert” but his forename likely came from his Kennedy maternal side.

Godfrey – A rare McCulloch name with Norse origins. The first documented Godfrey (aka “Gothray”) was the son of John McCulloch of Ardwell. John’s wife isn’t known. But it’s likely that his wise wife was Norse Gaelic (e.g., Clan McDowell) and the name Godfrey came from her side of the family. His great grandson, Sir Godfrey McCulloch, likely was named for him. [Note, by oral tradition there was a Godfrey born around 1300].

Henry – Early name from the Killasser line. The kings of England from 1399-1461 are named King Henry. The name may have originated on the mother’s side of the family to honor the English kings, or was simply a Norman name then in currency. Note that McCulloch-ally Lochlann of Galloway swore fealty to King Henry II, and his son Thomas of Galloway was an ally of King Henry III.

Hugh – Primarily a name of the McCullochs of Cadboll (Ross-Shire). Most likely adopted from maternal side of the family via the Rosses.

James – The first recorded use of the name may have been James McCulloch of Cardoness during the reign of King James I. Other James may have been named for a maternal grandfather.

John One of the most quintessential McCulloch forenames. Likely adopted to honor King John Balliol. The first recorded use of the name was the son of Sir Patrick McCulloch, a Balliol loyalist.

Ninian – Honors St. Ninian of Whithorn who continued the work of St. Patrick.

Norman – Early name that continued in at least two lines. Indicates political-cultural affinity for the Normans. This would seem to indicate the McCullochs saw themselves as a courtly class.

Patrick One of the earliest family names, continued in use for some time. Honors St. Patrick, Christian missionary to Ireland, probably from Scotland.

Robert – As Balliol supporters, it is no wonder the name Robert does not seem to be used until well after the life of Robert the Bruce. The first occurrences of the name seem to be Robert McCulloch of Torhouse, Plaids, and Drummorrell respectively. These names may have been adopted from the mother’s side of the family. Following the reigns of Stewart Kings Robert II and III the name would no longer be synonymous with Robert the Bruce, thus would seem more acceptable to the McCullochs.

Thomas – Earliest recorded McCulloch name. May honor Thomas of Galloway, son of Lochlann of Galloway. Thomas was a Gall-Gaidhil warrior who campaigned in Ireland and Ross-shire, who was an ally of Ragnall mac Somairle (Clan Donald), King William the Lion, and King Henry III of England.

William – One of the earliest recorded family names. Continued in some lines to America. Possibly originally adopted to honor King William the Lion.