Origins & History
Clan Lyon Origins and Family History …
There are three theories as to the origin of the Clan Lyon.
The first is a theory put forward by Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, a well known Scottish Herald and Genealogist. Sir Iain surmised that the family was of Celtic origin and were descendants of the Lamont Clan.
The second theory is based on an analysis of Sir John Lyon’s Coat-of-Arms (Argent Lion Rampant Azure Riband Gules) which indicates that Sir John is a descendant of the Bruces of Skelton (Argent Lion Rampant Azure).
The third theory, from a History of Scottish Surnames, lists the family as descended from Roger de Leonne. Roger came to Scotland with Edgar, son of Malcolm II, assistong Edgar in regaining the Scottish Throne by defeating Donald Bane, Edgar’s uncle, for which service Edgar granted Roger land in Perthshire, later known as Glen Lyon. However, according to the Glen Lyon Historical Association no one with the surname LYON has ever lived or owned land in Glen Lyon. (see Glen Lyon History)
Roger came from Norfolk were his family held grants of land from William Duke of Normandy in recognition of their assistance in seizing the English Throne. One of Roger’s ancestors, Ingleram de Lyon is listed in the Faillise Roll as a companion of William Duke of Normandy. Ingleram de Lyon was born around 1040 in a village Northeast of Rouyen known as le-Foret-de-Lyon and granted land in Norfolk for his service to King William during the battle of Hastings.
Sir John Lyon son of Baron Jphn Lyon and a descendant of Roger de Leonne, received a grant from Robert II for the thanage of Glamis. Five years later he became Chamberlain of Scotland, and his prominence was such that he was considered fit to marry the king¹s daughter, Princess Jean (Joanna), who brought with her not only illustrious lineage, but also the lands of Tannadice on the River Esk. John was also granted the barony of Kinghorne. Sir John, called the White Lyon because of his fair complexion, was killed during a quarrel with Sir James Lindsay of Crawford near Menmuir in Angus.
The family have descended in a direct line from the White Lion to the present day, and their crest alludes to this. His only son, another John, was his successor, and he strengthened the royal ties by marrying a granddaughter of Robert II. Sir John¹s son, Patrick, was created Lord Glamis in 1445 and thereafter became a Privy Councillor and Master of the Royal Household.
John, the sixth Lord Glamis, was, according to a tradition, a quarrelsome man with a quick temper. He married Janet Douglas, granddaughter of the famous Archibald Bell the Cat, and after his death she suffered terribly for the hatred which James V bore to all of her name. Lady Glamis was accused on trumped-up charges of witchcraft and, despite speaking boldly in her own defence, her doom was preordained. She was burned at the stake on the castle hill at Edinburgh on 3 December 1540.
The eighth Lord Glamis renounced his allegiance to Mary, Queen of Scots and served under the Regents Moray and Lennox. He was made Chancellor of Scotland and Keeper of the Great Seal for life, and his son, the ninth Lord, was captain of the Royal Guard and one of James VIs Privy Councillors. In 1606 he was created Earl of Kinghorne, Viscount Lyon and Baron Glamis. His son, the second Earl, was a close personal friend of the Marquess of Montrose and was with him when he subscribed to the National Covenant in 1638. He accompanied Montrose on his early campaigns in defence of the Covenant , but despite his great affection for the Marquess, he could not support him when he broke with the Scots Parliament to fight for Charles I. Lyon almost ruined his estates in supporting the Army of the Covenant against his friend.
In 1677 the third Earl of Kinghorne obtained a new patent of nobility, being styled thereafter Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne Viscount Lyon, Baron Glamis, Tannadyce, Sidlaw and Strathdichtie. He paid off the debts he inherited from his father by skillful management of the estates and was later able to alter and enlarge the Castle of Glamis. John, his son, although a member of the Privy Council, opposed the Treaty of Union of 1707.
His son was a Jacobite who fought in the rising of 1715 at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in Tullibardine¹s regiment. He died defending his regiment¹s colours. In 1716 James, the Old Pretender. son of James VII, was entertained at Glamis. Thirty years later another king¹s son, but a much less welcome one, the Duke of Cumberland, stopped at the castle on his march north to Culloden. It is said that after he left the bed which he had used was dismantled.
Among the Jacobite relics now preserved at Glamis are a sword and watch belonging to James VIII, the Old Pretender, and an intriguing tartan coat worn by him. The youngest daughter of the fourteenth Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne was Elizabeth Angela Maugarite Bowes-Lyon, Her Majesty the Queen Mother.
Also descended from Sir John Lyon is William Lyon who in 1634 sailed to North America in the ship Hopewell and settled in Roxbury Massachusetts. Descendants of William Lyon of Roxbury have been traced to New York, California, North and South Carolina, and Canada.