300 AD to 1306
Sometime before 373
AD, the Clans of the Gaelic Nations came from the west coast of Spain
and established themselves on the east coast of Ireland. From there they
moved on to the west coast of Scotland, and the Scots called them "Erinviene's".
Erin - meaning from the west, Viene - meaning a brave, resolute, worthy
man. The Erinviene's had close relations with the Kings of Scotland.
During the time the
Erinviene's stayed on the west coast of Scotland they built Irving
castle, which later became the Town of Irving, and named the Irving
River after their clan. Today both the town and the river are called
In 373 AD the
Erinviene's, together with other Scottish clans, fought against the
Romans. King Eugenius died, and the Erinviene's and the rest of the
Albion Scots fled to Scandinavia. For many years the Scots tried
to retake their land. In 404 AD Fergus was made King, Fergus II
led the return to Scotland and, along with the Erinviene's and other
Clans, they drove the Romans out of Scotland.
brothers - Erinus, Grim and Duncan - were grandsons of Duncan, the first
of the Eryvine's, who was killed at Duncrub in 965A.D. Duncan is alleged
to be the ancestor of the entire Irvine clan. Sometime before 1034
Duncan was named Prince of Cumberland by his Grandfather, Malcolm II (c.
954 - 1018), King of Scotland. Having no children of his own Malcolm
named Duncan as his successor and to make sure Duncan became king,
Malcolm had all of Kenneth III's male descendants killed. MacBeth the
Usurper (c 1005 - 1057), who was also a grandson of Malcolm, resented
the favor shown Duncan. Both Duncan and Macbeth derived their rights to
the crown through their mothers. Prince Duncan took several of the old
Clans to the south border to defend Scotland from England, and Prince
Duncan's uncle brought his clan, the Erivine's, with him. They built the
Towers of Bonshaw along the banks of the Kirtle. This branch of the
Irvines became the Irvings. The parish system was introduced by King
Malcome in the 11th century, and the Irving lands became known as Irving
Malcolm II had no male heir when he was assassinated in 1034. Prince
Duncan ascended the throne. Little is known historically concerning
Duncan's reign. He was king for only six years and in that time he
sallied into northern England on several occasions. In an age when kings
proved themselves in battle, Duncan was not a good king. Named as Karl
Hundason, but probably Duncan, the Orkneyinga Saga mentions his failed
attempt to take Caithness from Thorfinn. Duncan also failed in his
attempt to take Durham in 1039, and he was defeated in his campaign
against the Norsemen in 1040. During this time MacBeth formed an
alliance with their cousin the Earl of Orkney, and together they
defeated and killed Duncan when he was returning from his defeat from
the Norsemen in 1040. MacBeth then assumed the throne. It is
around Duncan's murder that Shakespeare's play Macbeth is based.
In 1045 Erinus was killed by MacBeth's forces while attempting to exact
revenge for the murder of his son.
In 1046 Siward, Earl of Northumbria, unsuccessfully attempted to
dethrone Macbeth in favour of Malcolm Erivine (c. 1031 - 1093), eldest
son of Duncan I. By 1050 Macbeth felt secure enough to leave Scotland
for a pilgrimage to Rome. But in 1054 he was apparently forced by Siward
to yield part of southern Scotland to Malcolm.
After 17 years of hiding, Malcolm raised an army to challenge MacBeth in
1057. He defeated and executed the MacBeth the Usurper that same year.
Lulach, the stepson of MacBeth, reigned for a very short period before
meeting his demise on March 17, 1058, when he was defeated by Malcolm.
Malcolm reclaimed his father's throne and thence became Malcolm III.
After the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, in 1066, Malcolm
gave refuge to the Anglo-Saxon prince Edgar the Aetheling and his
sisters, one of whom, Margaret (later St. Margaret), became his second
Malcolm acknowledged the overlordship of William in 1072 but
nevertheless soon violated his feudal obligations and made five raids
into England. During the last of these invasions he was killed by the
forces of King William II Rufus (reigned 1087-1100), near Alnwick,
Northumberland, England. After Malcolm's death the succession included
David I 'The Saint' and William 'The Lion of Justice'. The line of
succession ceased when Alexander III rode his horse over a cliff on a
dark December night in 1286.
Alexander III outlived his heirs and after his death the succession was
cast into dispute. Thirteen claimants then declared their right to the
throne, all having some relation to the line of Irvine. The claimant
with the most standing was John Balliol, who was the great great great
grandson of David I. His most serious contender was Robert the Bruce,
the great great great great grandson of David I. Edward 'Longshanks' of
England then chose Balliol to be King of Scotland, who had to promise
subservience to London.
When Balliol could no longer tolerate following the direction of the
English he was imprisoned in London. With that two contenders, John
'Red' Comyn, who was Balliol's nephew, and Robert the Bruce, were in
contention for the throne. The two met at the Church of the Grey Friers
in 1306 in an effort to resolve their dispute. In circumstances that are
unclear, Robert killed Comyn when he thrust a dagger through his heart.
Longshanks then issued a warrant for the arrest of Robert the Bruce.
1306 to 1600
Robert the Bruce frequently received help and refuge from the Irvines of
Bonshaw during his famous, protracted fight with the English. William de
Irwyn was one of his principle aides. As legend has it, King Robert was
suddenly put to flight by his enemies with only a few of his aides to
assist him. During the course of the exhausting flight, Robert slept
under a holly tree while William stood guard. This event is alleged to
the source of the Irvine coat of arms. Holly leaves are now a prominent
feature in the Irvine coat of arms.
William supported Robert at famous battle of Bannockburn in June of 1314
(one of the few battles where the Scots defeated the English). In 1323,
for his meritorious service, William was granted 10,000 acres of land
which had previously belonged to John Comyn, which were the Royal Forest
of Oaks in Aberdeenshire and Drum Castle. Thenceforth Drum Castle
remained in possession of the Irvines for over 650 years.
Sir William de Irvine married a granddaughter of Bruce, who was the
daughter of Robert Douglas, Earl of Buchan. For twelve generations,
starting with the third Laird of Drum, there was a successive line of
Irvines all bearing the name Alexander.
Sir Alexander Irvine, Third Liard of Drum, who was the grandson of
William de Irwyn, accompanied the Earl of Mar in the French wars and was
one of the chief commanders of the King's army at the battle of Harlaw,
A.D. 1411, which was fought only 20 miles from Drum. He was a valiant
champion. Alexander lead the forces of Aberdeenshire with his cousin the
Earl of Mar to meet the invaders from the Hebrides. During the battle
Alexander met the ferocious Chief of the MacLeans of Duart in Mull,
known as 'Red Hector of the Battles'. After 'noble and notable single
combat' the two of them lay dead upon the field, killed by mortal blows
struck upon each other. Legend has it that all Irvine adult males died
in the battle of Harlaw. This battle marked the last challenge by
the Lords of the Isles to royal authority.
Prior to the battle Alexander made his younger brother Robert swear
that, in the event that Alexander should be killed, Robert would assume
his baronial right at Drum Castle. After Alexander's death Robert
carried out his oath. He changed his name to Alexander and married his
Alexander's fiancée, Elizabeth de Keith. Robert, the 4th Liard, was
heavily involved in the negotiations which ransomed the release of James
I from the English, for which he was knighted. After the King was
murdered in 1437, Alexander de Irwyne took control of the city of
Aberdeen to try to restore order. The Irvings lost control of most of
their large Bonshaw estate after the battle of Arkinholme in 1455.
The Irvines were known as troublesome neighbours. The Irvines had a long
running feud with their neighbours the Keiths. In 1402 the Irvines
slaughtered in invading Keith warband at the battle of Drumoak. Robert
Irvine married Elizabeth Keith, thus ending the long running feud.
Robert is believed to have exchanged swords with on son of Red Hector in
a gesture of friendship between their families. It is believed that
Robert build St Ninian's chantry in St. Nicholas Church in Aberdeen.
Other Irvines of note include the sixth Laird of Drum, who was rewarded
by James V in 1547 for arresting "rebel thieves, reivers, sorcerers and
murderers". The Dumfries branch rose to prominence in the 16th century -
Christopher Irving of Bonshaw and a son were killed at the battle of
Flodden in Sept. 9, 1513 while leading light horsemen against the
English. It is alleged that many Irvines died in this battle and the
ensuing English raids which laid waste to the area.
1600 to 1850
During the Covenanting Rebellion the royalist Irvines supported Charles
I. Drum Castle was plundered three times during this period. Sir
Alexander, a Royalist, was forced to conform to the Covenant and was
appointed Sheriff of Aberdeen in 1634. Alexander, 10th Laird of Drum,
his brother Robert Federett and his two sons were imprisoned at the
Tolbooth in Edinburgh several times. His son Robert died there in 1646.
When Charles became King
in 1660 he offered Sir Alexander's son, the tenth Laird of Drum, an
earldom as reward for his staunch support, which he turned down because
the king wouldn't pay to repair damage sustained to Drum Castle while
the family had supported him.
fourteenth Liard (a Jacobite) fought at Sheriffmuir in 1715 which ended
in a stalemate. The Laird received a severe head-wound which left
him insane. The Irvines continued to support the Jacobite cause.
The XVIIth Laird joined Lord Pitsligo in the rising of 1745 which
supported Bonny Prince Charlie. After the disastrous battle of
Culloden, the Laird, with a warrant for his arrest, returned to Drum
Castle where he went into hiding in a secret room with the assistance of
his sister, Miss Mary Irvine. The Liard hid in a secret room in the
castle. The XVIIth Laird was tried in absentia and eventually
acquitted on a technicality. The
22nd Laird fought with the Grendier Guards in the First World War.
Variations of the
present name of Irvine is believed to have originated in Dumfriesshire
between 1124 and 1165. Irvin, Irvine, Irwin and Erwin are identical
names belonging to the same family. Until the 11th century the most
common spellings were Eryvine, Erivine and Erevine. After the Norman
invasion the dominant spelling became de Irwyn. Apparently the "de"
prefix was in vogue in the 14th century. The
Irvings are associated with Bonshaw Tower in Scotland. This area of
Scotland became known as Irving lands, and the lands around Drum became
Irvine lands. Irvings
are based in Dumfrieshire and the Irvines in Aberdeenshire. The split
follows the unification of Scotland under Robert the Bruce. Robert was
in fact a Norman with the family name de Bruis; his family were
allocated the Ervine lands in SW Scotland and the Ervines, became loyal
supporters and took on the name de Irwyn. William de Irwyn became the
"armour bearer" to Robert and following Bannockburn was gifted the Drum
estates. Later it was deemed politic to anglicise family names, so the
name became Irvings around Bonshaw and Irvines around Drum .In
the latter part of the 14th century the name changed from de Irwyn to
Irving in the southern part of Scotland near Bonshaw, and to Irvine in
the northern area near Drum. The wide range of variations is attributed
to medieval census takers who relied on spoken pronouncements of the
In the past 1500
years the original family Erinviene name has been altered into many
different versions: Curwing, De Irwin, D'Irevigne, D'Orvin, Eirryn,
Erevine, Erewynis, Erin, Ervin, Ervine, Erving, Ervinge, Erwin, Erwine,
Erwing, Erwyn, Eryvine, Eryvinus, Eurwing, Hierewine, Hirevigne,
Hirevigne, Hurven, Irevigne, Irewin, Irewing, Irewyn, Irrewing,
Irrewings, Irruein, Irruen, Irruwing, Irrwin, Irrwing, Irrwingis, Iruin,
Iruine, Iruing, Iruwyn, Irveyn, Irvin, Irvine, Irving, Irvinge, Irvinn,
Irvinus, Irvyn, Irvyerins, Irwan, Irwaynes, Irwein, Irweing, Irwen,
Irwenis, Irwin, Irwine, Irwing, Irwinge, Irwyn, Irwyne, Irwynn, Irwynnis,
Irynagio, Orruein, Ourine, Ouron, Urin, Urwen, Urwens, Urwin, Urwine,
Vrwin, Yrwens, Yrwin, Yrwins.
Written by Eric
Irvine © 2001. Revised 10
Contributions of information and pictures are welcome. Email Eric at: