When Robert the Bruce secured the throne of Scotland he rewarded his friends at the expense of his enemies, and the family of Comyn, was amongst the latter who lost titles and lands. However, the Cummings, to use the modern spelling of the name, remained numerous in the north-east of Scotland. The Cumming of Culter traced their descent from Jardine Comyn, son of the Earl of Buchan, in the 13th century. The history of the Cummings of Relugas emerges from the 16th century, but it is the Cummings of Altyre who have occupied the principal position since the fall of the Comyns. In 1594 Alexander Cumming commanded a troop of horse, defeating the Earl of Argyle. In 1657 Robert Cummings of Altyre married Lucy, daughter of Sir Ludovick Gordon of Gordonstown, and when the last Sir William Gordon of Gordonstown died, more than a century later, Alexander Cummings of Altyre, being his heir, assumed the name and arms of Gordon of Gordonstown and was created a baronet in 1804.
He died in 1806, and his second son Sir William became 2nd Baronet. Sir Alexander Penrose Gordon-Cumming, 3rd Bart, succeeded his father, and his brother Roualeyn was the famous traveller and lion hunter in the middle of the last century.
The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles.
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