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The clan name is derived from the Gaelic, "Mac a’Phearsain", which literally means "Son of the Parson". The Parson referred to was Muriach, the 12th Century lay prior or parson of Kingussie in Badenoch, which lies in the middle of the old Macpherson Clan lands on the upper waters of the River Spey. Muriach's son was probably the first to take the name, and from Muriach's three grandsons are descen.....

Heraldry Database: Hepburn


Surname:  Hepburn
Branch:  Hepburn
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  Hepburn is a Scottish family name that is also associated with a variety of famous personages, eponyms, places, and things. Whilst a Scottish name, its origins are widely suspected to lie south of the border in the north of England. Specifically, the name is thought to have derived from either the town of Hebron or Hebburn, both of which are in the Northumberland area. The origins of the name are suggested to be the same as that of Hebburn from the Anglo-Saxon words heah, meaning high and byrgen, meaning burial place. Alternatively it could mean something along the lines of "high place beside the water", as the word burn is a still widely used Scots word to mean river.

Next to Chillingham Castle there remains a Bastle Tower where the family originated. This was the seat of a line of the family until the eighteenth century when that branch died out having left only a female heir. However, it is as the Earls of Bothwell that the Hepburn family are perhaps best remembered. This branch of the family originated in Lothian when a Hepburn was granted land having saved the Earl of March from a horse that had lost control. This family first became the Lords of Hailes before being granted the Earldom of Bothwell.

There were also Hepburns of Waughton, thought by some to have branched off from the Hailes line, thought by others to predate it. Another line was the Hepburns of Beanston, and yet another was the Hepburns of Athelstaneford. All of these families were prominent in various ways at various junctures of Scottish history, but all were primarily located around the East Lothian area.

Motto:  Keep Tryst.
Arms:  Quarterly 1st, Gules, on a chevron Argent a rose between two lions combatant of the First (Hepburn); 2nd, Azure, a ship Or, sails furled Argent, within a double tressure flory counterflory of the Second (Orjbet); 3rd, Ermine, three chevronels Gules (Soulis); 4th, Or, a bend Azure (Vaux).
Crest:  A horse's head couped Argent, bridled Gules.
Supporters:  Two lions rampant guardant Gules.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

The Hepburn name is territorial, coming from the village of Hebburn in the parish of Chillingham in Northumberland. During the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, an Adam de Hibburne appears to have been captured by the Scots on one of their many cross-border raids. On his way through East Lothian to Edinburgh, the story goes that he saved the Earl of Dunbar from attack by an unbroken wild stallion. The earl, in gratitude, gifted Adam the lands of North and South Hailes in East Lothian. Adam’s son, Patrick, married Eleanor de Brus, Countess of Carrick, who was the niece of Robert the Bruce. She was Adam’s second wife and he, her fifth husband. Patrick and his son, another Patrick, were with James, Earl of Douglas, when he raided Northumbria in 1388. The Scots captured the banner of Henry Percy (the renowned Hotspur), who vowed that the banner would never leave England. At the ensuing Battle of Otterburn the Hepburns managed to save the Douglas standard, a feat which won them the gratitude and protection of that powerful family. Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, invaded Scotland in 1400 intent on burning Hailes by way of revenge, but he was driven off by Douglas. Sir Patrick Hepburn became the first Lord Hailes in 1482. His grandson, also Patrick, was created Earl of Bothwell by James IV, who was his cousin. He was also created High Admiral of Scotland, Keeper of the King’s Household, Sheriff Principal of Scotland, Keeper of Edinburgh Castle and Lord of Orkney. He was trusted enough to stand proxy for the king at his marriage to Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England. It was from this union that James VI was later to succeed to the English throne. Patrick and his son, Adam, were among the many Scottish nobles who died alongside James IV at Flodden in 1513. Adam’s son, Patrick, the third Earl, grew up with the leading Borders families and joined their rebellion during the reign of James V, as a result of which he was forced into exile in England. On the death of the king he returned home to attempt to woo Mary of Guise, the king’s widow and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Henry VIII of England bribed Bothwell and a number of other Scottish nobles to ensure the marriage of the infant Mary to his son Edward, Prince of Wales. A treaty was enacted but later annulled, due to Henry’s excessive demands. Mary was instead married to the heir to the throne of France, but after her husband’s death returned to Scotland in 1561. She married her weak-willed cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. When Darnley, now King Henry, was found strangled in the ruins of his house at Kirk o’ Field, there was little public doubt that his death had been contrived by James, fourth Earl of Bothwell, who had already tried to abduct the queen. Bothwell was charged with the murder but was acquitted after filling Edinburgh with his men. He married the queen, a union later said to have been forced upon her, and he was created Duke of Orkney and loaded with other high ranks and titles. Public outrage and the jealousy of other powerful factions ensured that the marriage was not to last, and after various adventures, Mary escaped to England where she was held captive for twenty years, ultimately being executed by her cousin, Elizabeth. Bothwell escaped to Denmark where he was seized and held in the castle at Dragsholm, where he died in pitiful circumstances, chained to a pillar after eleven years of captivity. All his honours were forfeited to the Crown. His mummified body was on display until quite recently. A cousin of the earl, Sir John Hepburn, became a marshal of France and later the first colonel of the Royal Scots Regiment. Sir George Buchan Hepburn became representer of the family and was created a baronet in May 1815. His descendant, Sir Alastair, is the present baronet.

Name Variations:  Hapburn, Hebburn, Hopburn, Hepburn, Hepburne, Adinston, Hebbourn.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.




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