This name in Scotland is of twofold origin, either it was derived from the gaelic AILENE - meaning rock, or it was said to have come into England with Alan Fergeant, Count of Brittany, a companion of the Conqueror, and first Earl of Richmond of the County of Yorkshire. The oldest form of the name, on tenth century Breton coins, seems to be Alanus. It was the name of a Welsh and Breton saint and was particularly popular in Lincolnshire, as a font name during the 12th Century.
Early records of the name mention Alanus of the County of Suffolk, was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The first of the name in Scotland appears to be Alan, son of Waldeve, who witnessed charters of King David I in 1139. Loughlan le fiz Aleyn, son in law of Alexander, was received to the King of England's peace in 1301. Duncane Alowne was the burgess of Aberdeen in 1446. Henry Alane was the clerk of accounts in the king's household in 1490. They are connected with Clan MacDonald of Clanranald.
The burghs of Scotland owe much of their prosperity to the large immigration of foreigners which went on during the 12th and 13th centuries. The original founders of the towns, were in many cases wanderers from Flanders, who brought with them their habits of industry and knowledge of trade and manufacturer. Settlers of this description came in great numbers to England in the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) and when Henry II (1154-1189) drove all foreigners out of his dominions they flocked into Scotland, where a more enlightened policy made them welcome. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment which was worn over the armour.
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