Clan Thompson Society held its inaugural general membership meeting May 30 2008 at Glasgow KY.

We were granted arms in July 2012 and are actively representing Thoms in the US and elsewhere. 

In our previous communications with Lord Lyon, he had requested further research validating Thomson families in Lothian and the Borders.  I have included the following examples of Thomson families being recognized by both the English and Scottish sovereigns:

   In every war torn battlefield, the survivors are frequently faced with a conflict of loyalties.  The Thomson of the west Marche were no different and often sided with the likely winner or even more commonly with their own kin and neighbors.  The Eskdale families (which included Thomsons) were forced into this condition after James V treacherously hanged the Armstrong leaders and supporters on 26 July 1530.  With their homes and farms destroyed, the only means of livelihood was the reiving and raiding of more prosperous communities south of the Border.  The English Lord Wharton reported, “ The Batysons and Thomsons of Eskdale, have burnt a town called Grange, with all the corn therein, and brought away nolt (cows) and other goods amounting to eche of them in their dividing 8 shillings.” Again in the 1540’s, Lord Wharton reported, “The Batysons, Thomsons and Lytles of Esskdayle, Ewesdaill and Wacopdale burnt a town on the Water of Dryff called Blendallbush, and brought away 16 oxen and Keyne, some nags and with all the insight of the town.” Subsequently, in 1544, Lord Wharton invaded Scotland and brought the Scottish families ruthlessly to heel, even persuading some of them, under an English assurance, to restrict their raids to their fellow Scots.  In a report to the Earl of Shewsbury, Lord Wharton wrote, ”hundrethe of the Batysons of Eskdaill and the Thomsons, brent (burned) a town called Fastheughe, taking away all the insight, certain nags, and fiftie nowte.” The same two families attacked Branxholme and Mosshouse, “Smoked very sore the towers, slew many Scots and then “wane a tower of the Captains of Edinburgh Castle, called Burdlands, burnt all the roofs within the walls, and coming home took may oxen and shepe besiede one Scot slayne.”

While the English army was ravaging East Lothianin in 1547, Lords Lennox and Wharton crossed the Esk to subdue the South of Annandale and Castlemilk, The country being stricken with fear, the Lairds and all the families(clans) came and gave an oath of obeisance as subjects to the King of England.  In Bell’s Manuscript, preserved in the Carlisle Cathedral Library, there is a list of the chiefs and their men who surrendered. The list contains some 304 Beatties, Littles and Thomsons ---all had served the English - some above a year, some more than three years. The peace arranged in 1551 provided that the West Marche debatable land between the Esk and Sark would belong to neither kingdom.

On April 6th 1569 and bond was signed at Kelso to show support for the young King during the civil war between Queen Mary, her third husband, Bothwell, and the Protestant party under Regent for the infant king, referencing “the barons, landit men and gentlemen, inhabitants of Sheriffdom of Berwick Roxburgh, Selkirk, and Peebles.”  The forsigned professed themselves specially enemies to all persons named Armstrong, Elliot, Nickson, Little, Beattie, Thomson, Irving, Bell, Johnstone, Glendinning, Routlege, Henderson and Scott of Ewisdale – in fact, of those families who had fought on the side of the Queen at Langholm.

 The Parliamentary Register of 10 December 1585 Act in favour of John [Maxwell], earl of Morton, his friends, and servants (and others) gave general abolition for extinguishing all facts, and deeds, committed by him or any other person hereafter enumerated in this present ordinance including slaughter, raiding, reives, plunder, depredations, pillaging done at any time since April 1569 to the day and date of this Act shall be abolished and extinct forever. To the effect it may be clearly understood it shall only appertain the persons after-following: (some omitted for brevity) John Thomson in Millhead, Thomas Thomson, his brother; Nicol Thomson and 20 others, Roger Thomson, John Thomson, Roger Thomson, his sons, James Thomson, smith, David Thomson, his son, and 4 others, John Thomson of Know, and 6 others, John Thomson, and 26 others, Thomas Thomson, and 3 others, William Thomson in Clynt, Andrew and John Thomson, his brothers, Ade Thomson, Edward Thomson, John Thomson, Sim Thomson, John Thomson, alias Rowll, Dick Thomson, Will Thomson, John Thomson, Martin Thomson, and 8 others, Archie and Adam Thomson, Geordie Thomson in Kirgill, Jock Thomson, Adie and Jock Thomson, his brothers, John Thomson, John Thomson in Kirkgill, Archie Thomson in Allebasterland, Nicky and Jock Thomson, John Thomson in Pollorane, Geordie Thomson, Lieutenant John Thomson, John Thomson, James Thomson, horsemen, Adam Thomson, Richie Thomson, and 164 other horsemen. 

 In 1581, the Parliament of Scotland rendered a whole clan jointly answerable, in the way of retaliation for the delinquencies of each individual. In another statute passed shortly after, the chief of each clan was made responsible of all the misdeeds of his surname. In consequence of these acts, a roll was made of the nobles, barons, chieftains and Clans residing on the Borders, and Highlands in 1587. In this roll (West Marche) appear the surnames; Scotts of Ewesdale, Batesons, Littles, Thomsons, Glendinnings, Irvings, Bells, Carruthers, Grahams, Johnstons, Jardines, Moffats, and Latimers. In addition, Monypeny’s Chronicle, published in 1587, enumerates sixty-five lairds and gentleman as residing in Dumfriessire. There were also twenty “chief men of name, not being lairds” among which are Young Archie Thomson and Sym Thomson.

 A 1594 Act of the Scottish parliament for the “punishment of theft, robbery, oppression and sorning” cited a “great number of wicked thieves, oppressors and peace-breakers of the surnames of …..Bells, Carlisles, Beatsons, Littles, Thomsons, Johnstons, et al. (remainder omitted for brevity).”

The original Thomson Armorial is included in the 1565 Workman’s Manuscript, [folio55, shield #5] and is believed by some to have been copied from the Forman Armorial, National Library, with additions from David Lyndsay and others. The arms of Thomson of That Ilk, as described in the Workman’s Manuscript (1565-1568) were never included in Lyon Court registrations.

In summation: The early 16th century Thomsons of Scotland were primarily concentrated in Lothian, the Kelso area of the East Marche and the Liddesdale/ Debatable land of the West Marche. The 1587 roll of the clans included the Thomsons of the West Marche, i.e. Dumfrieshire. They are listed with Scotts of Ewesdale, Batesons, Littles, Glendinings, Irvings, Bells, Carruthers, Grahams, Johnstones, Jardines, Mofats and Latimers.  It is clear that these neighboring families were never “clan’ in the modern accepted sense of highland Clans. They were, however significant families and some became recognized by Lyon as modern clans: Little, Irvine, Bell, Graham, Johnston, Jardine, Moffat, Elliot, Armstrong, and Maxwell.

   The commonest versions of the name are Thomson and Thompson, and arms for eight of them were matriculated in the early years of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, which opened in 1672. The coats show a consistent Thomson theme – argent, a stag’s head cabossed either gules or proper, and on a chief either azure or gules various small charges – which was maintained in fifty one out of another fifty three matriculations down to 1973. The Thomsons, larger than many names in the number of their matriculation, therefore demonstrably comprise a clan, deficient only in never having had a chiefly line recognised by the Lord Lyon.

 For further information contact Barbara  Moore

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