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Duncan Coat of Arms / Duncan Family Crest

Duncan Coat of Arms / Duncan Family Crest

The Duncans and the Robertsons, or Clan Donnachaidbh, appear to have had the same origin. They were descended from the ancient Earls of Atholl and took their name from the chief Donnachadh Reamhar or 'Fat Duncan' who led the clan at the Battle of Bannockburn. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The Duncan's possessed lands in Forfarshire, including the barony of Lundie and the estate of Gourdie. Sir William Duncan was one of the physicians to George 11, and in 1764 he was created a baronet, but the title became extinct on his death in 1774. Alexander Duncan of Lundie, provost of Dundee was a royalist during the Jacobite Rising of 1745. About the year 890-93, a body of Norwegians from Ireland entered Yorkshire and were followed by a greater number, probably between 919 and 952. These Norwegians had been settled in Ireland sufficiently long to become partly Celticized and they have left their mark on the modern map of Cumberland and North Yorkshire in a series of place-names containing Irish loan-words. This is such a name. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.


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last updated on: December 8th, 2017

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