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Cairns are a Scottish family or kin-group who do not have a chief recognised by the Lord Lyon and are therefore considered an armigerous clan.


The lands of Cairns are in Mid Calder near Edinburgh. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 368</ref> However any place where stones are piled into Cairns could also be an origin. <ref>David Dorward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 35</ref>

Middle Ages

Willaim de Carnys witnessed a charter in 1349. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 368</ref> He held the baronies of Easter and Wester Whitburn.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 368</ref> The name is often mentioned in Lothian records during the later fourteenth century. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 35</ref>

Nineteenth Century

The Cairns family emigrated to Ulster as part of the Plantation early in the sixteenth century. In 1867 Hugh Cairns became Lord Cairns and later Earl in 1878. His coat of arms proclaims descent from Cairns of that Ilk.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 368</ref>He was Lord Chancellor in 1876.

David Cairns (b.1872) was a leading churchman. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 35</ref>

Sir William Cairns was governor of Queensland during the 1870s and the city of Cairns is named after him. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 368</ref>


The name is still common around Edinburgh and also Glasgow. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 368</ref> <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 35</ref>

References <references/>