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Clan Aikenhead

Clan Aikenhead are a Scottish family who do not have a recognised chief and are therefore considered an armigerous clan.

The ancient barony of Aikenhead was in Lanarkshire. Gilbert de Lakenhaued rendered homage for his lands in 1296. Black lists William de Aikenhead as a baillie of the burgh of Rutherglen in 1376 and William de Aikenhed as a notary public in Irvine in 1444. <ref> George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 349</ref>

The connection with the legal profession appears to have been maintained, as James Aikenhead, claiming to represent Aikenhead of that Ilk, advocate and one of the commissioners of Edinburgh, is recorded as having been granted arms between 1672 and 1673 in the Lyon Court register. <ref>Plean, Squire, Enclycopedia, 394</ref> This means that there was an Aikenhead chief during the late seventeenth century. Nisbet states that this James was the son of David Aikenhead, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, described as 'eminent for his loyalty and virtue'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Enclycopedia, 394</ref>

However, Black states that this is the same Lord Provost who features in a rhyme alluding to his face: 'if what is said were justly said, that head of Aiken timbers made, his fyrie face had long ago set all his head in blazing glow'.<ref>Plean, Squire, Enclycopedia, 394</ref> The barony of Aikenhead was apparently sold in the time of the Lord Provost's father but the name is still common in Lanarkshire.<ref>Plean, Squire, Enclycopedia, 394</ref>

Sir Patrick Aikenhead is commissary clerk of Edinburgh in the list of investors in the ill-fated Darien scheme of 1695. <ref>James Samuel Barbour, a History of William Paterson and the Darien Company, 255</ref>

Thomas Aikenhead

Thomas Aikenhead (1676-97) was an Edinburgh student who was prosecuted by the city's religious authorities and executed for blasphemy. He became the last person in Britain to be convicted of this as a crime. On the morning of 8 January 1697, Thomas wrote to his 'friends' that 'it is a principle innate and co-natural to every man to have an insatiable inclination to the truth, and to seek for it as for hid treasure. . . So I proceeded until the more I thought thereon, the further I was from finding the verity I desired. . .'

Aikenhead may have read this letter outside the Tolbooth, before making the long walk, under guard, to the gallows on the road between Edinburgh and Leith. He was said to have died Bible in hand, "with all the Marks of a true Penitent". <ref>Hill, Andrew (September 26, 2000). "Thomas Aikenhead" in Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography. Unitarian Universalist Association website. Retrieved 7 January 2014.</ref>

Thomas Babington Macaulay said of Aikenhead's death that 'the preachers who were the poor boy's murderers crowded round him at the gallows, and. . . insulted heaven with prayers more blasphemous than anything he had uttered.'<ref>The history of England from accession of James II.", by Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay, pg 544</ref>

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