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Family History

The STirling surname . . 

 . . but not the SKirling surname!

The research into SKIRLING and STIRLING and variant and 'connected' surnames continues and the Webmaster has decided that keeping all the various STIRLING pages on this site up2date is not really possible.
A NEW WEBPAGE has been created in the form of a newsletter and will be updated more often than the others. You may still get information from the various linked STIRLING pages on this site, but the new one should ALWAYS be read for the latest news.  The page will be dated so that you can check it occasionally.

CLICK HERE for the new webpage.




The STIRLING, and similar, surname

The early writer, Venerable Bede, the "Father of English History" who was born in 673, tells us that the Pictish race, one of the founding races of the British Isles, arrived in Scotland from Brittany about the 15th century B.C. 

The surname of Stirling is claimed to be derived from this founding race. 

King Nechtan was the first recorded Pictish Monarch about 724 A.D. The Orcadian Vikings who penetrated as far south as Caithness invaded the Picts from the north.  They were left with a territory the eastern coast of Scotland from Aberdeen, south to Edinburgh.

Manuscripts such as the Inquisitio, the Black Book of the Exchequer, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Ragman Rolls, the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, and various other cartularies of parishes in Scotland were used to research this name.  From these archives they produced the early records of the name in Stirlingshire where they were seated at the town of Stirling from very early times, some say, well before the Norman Conquest.  The name was anciently spelt Stryvelin, and one of the first references was of Walter de Stryvelin in 1136 witnessing a deed by Prince Henry, son of King David I of Scotland.

The surname Stirling can be found in many different forms and spellings.  From to time the surname was spelled Stirling, Sterling, Sturling, Strivelynd, and some of these versions are still used today.  These changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son.  One clanswoman on recorded as born with one spelling of her name, married with another and died with yet another.

More specifically the surname developed in the original territories of Stirling where the Stirlings of Cadder can claim an unbroken line of Chiefs from the year 1160 to the Present. Soon after 1160 a branch of the family settled at Dunmaglas in Nairnshire. The Stirlings of Keir although the most wealthy of the sundry Stirling lines were never the chiefly line. That honour was reserved to the Stirlings of Cadder. Even after the Keirs acquired the Cadder estates in 1534, the Chief of the Name stayed with the Cadder branch and came down to the Drumpelliers in 1818 where it resides to this day with Francis John Stirling Chief of the Name and Arms of Stirling.

Three Chiefs or chieftains swore allegiance to King Edward I of England on his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296.  They were John Stirling of Moray, Andrew Strivelyn of Inverkeithing, and Henry Strivelyn of Stirlingshire.  Sir John Stirling, Laird of Keir, represented Stirlingshire in the Scottish Parliament in 1524, Henry Stirling represented Ardoch in Dumbartonshire in 1621, Sir John Stirling of Garden represented Linlithgow-shire in 1640, and Sir John Stirling of Keir represented Stirlingshire from 1669 to 1678.  Little wore needs to be said about this clan's strong contribution to Scottish politics and their strong kinship within the clan.  Amongst the roll of Scottish Baronets were Sir George Stirling of Glorat and Sir Henry Stirling of Ardoch, both in 1666.  Their present family seats are at Faskine, Mansfield, Ardoch, Cadder and Muiravonside, Glorat, Garden, Gargunnock, Fairburn, Larbert, Auchyle and Kippendavie.  Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Sir Henry Stirling of Keir.

(Thanx to Rick Stirling for his file giving more detail here  -  )

The newly found passionate fervour of the Church of Scotland during the 17th century rejected all who could not pass "The Test" of taking an oath of belief in the Church.  Those failing the "Test" were sometimes burned at the stake or, more kindly, banished to Australia, the Carolinas or the Islands.

Many Clansmen were freely "encouraged" to migrate to Ireland.  Families migrated from Scotland to Ireland with promises of cheap Irish soil.  They became known as the "Scotch/Irish".  Sir Robert Stirling was Governor of the city and county of Cork in southern Ireland.  Sir Robert was descended from William Stirling, Baron of Glorat in the Sheriffdom of Lennox in Scotland.

The New World beckoned the adventurous.  Some sailed voluntarily from Ireland, but most sailed directly from Scotland, their home territories, across the stormy Atlantic aboard the small sailing ships known as the "White Sails", ships such as the Hector, the Rambler and the Dove.  These overcrowded ships, sometimes spending two months at sea, were racked with disease, sometimes landing with only 60% of their original passenger lists.

Early passenger lists show the first migrants which could be considered kinsmen of the surname Stirling, or having a variation of the family surname spelling were David and John Sterling who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1651; Thomas Sterling settled in Virginia in 1655; followed by William in 1656; Will Sterling settled in Georgia in 1734; Letitia Sterling settled in New Jersey in 1773; Robert Sterling settled in Dominica in 1774; Mrs. Stirling settled in New York State in 1774; M.G. Stirling settled in New Hampshire in 1718; William Stirling with his wife and two children settled in New York State in 1774; the family also settled in Pennsylvania and California in the 19th century.  In Newfoundland, John settled in Harbour Grace in 1800; Edgar was a merchant of Brigus in 1857; James was a fisherman of Bay of Islands in 1871; Albert settled in English Harbour in 1871.

The American War of Independence divided many families.  Some remained loyal to the cause, whist others became United Empire Loyalists and moved north to Canada.

Many prominent people were a part of this notable name; Jeffrey Maurice Sterling, Chairman and

Managing Director, Town & City Properties Ltd.; Sir Charles Norman Stirling; Alexander John Dickson Stirling, H.M. Diplomatic Service, Beirut; Rear Admiral Michael Grote Stirling.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms appears as Silver, on a black diagonal stripe, three gold buckles. The Crest was A Moor's head.  The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name was "Gang Forward".


There is much else about this family surname on this website -  try   stirling on our site search engine.



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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014