Forsyth

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Clan Forsyth is a Scottish chiefly family

© Gaelic Themes Ltd.

Origins

The origin of this surname is uncertain. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 140</ref> If Celtic in origin it may derive from the Gaelic personal name 'Fearsithe' meaning 'man of peace'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> Doward considers this doubtful. <ref>David Doward, Collins Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 101</ref>However there is a tradition that gives a Norman origin from Forsach, who was amongst the Norsemen who settled on lands on the River Dordogne in Aquitaine, France.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> The Viscomte de Fronsoch accompanied Eleanor of Provence to London to marry Henry III and lived at the English court from 1236 to 1246 and obtained lands in Northumbria. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref>

Early Forsyths in Stirling and Lanarkshire

William de Fersith appears on the Ragman Roll of Scottish noblemen submitting to Edward I of England in 1296. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> Osbert, son of a Robert de Forsyth received a grant of land at Sauchie in Stirlingshire from Robert the Bruce sometime after March 1306. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> He fought at the Battle of Bannockburn and received confirmation of his lands in 1320.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> Osbert's son was appointed the king's macer and constable of Stirling Castle in 1368.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> Fersith the clerk is recorded receiving a royal pension of one hundred pounds per annum from Robert II. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> David Forsyth of Dykes in Lanarkshire acquired his lands sometime before 1488. His seal bore heraldry similar to the arms of de Fronsoc and he specifically claimed them as his ancestors. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref>There was a Forsyth castle at Dykes until it was demolished in 1828. A branch of the family left Dykes and moved to Inchnoch Castle in Monkland, Lanarkshire. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> It was this family that was subsequently to set up branches in Ayrshire, Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, North America and Australia. <ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref>

Edinburgh Forsyths

William Forsyth, a Bailie of Edinburgh in 1365, must have been a Burgess of the city from about 1345 to achieve this office. <ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref> He may also have been a descendent through one generation to the William who signed the "Ragman Roll". <ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref> William Forsyth of Edinburgh had, with other issue, a son who moved to St. Andrews and then acquired the barony of Nydie.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> This was a fief of the Archbishops of St. Andrews. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> John Forsythe, a Burgess in 1397 became a bailie of Edinburgh in 1425. Thomas Forsyth was a Burgess of Edinburgh in 1439 and may have descended from John.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> From Edinburgh spread many branches of the family to the Lothians, Borders and Dumfries as well as to Fife, Aberdeenshire and to Ulster and the Americas.<ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref>

St. Andrews Forsyths

Falkland Palace

Nydie, near St. Andrews, was a Barony under the superiority of the Archbishop of St. Andrews, Henry Wardlaw, when the lands were purchased by William Forsyth in 1435. His son, Henry was beadle of St. Andrews University from 1456 to 1461. <ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref> Alexander, fourth Baron of Nydie was sheriff depute of Fife and the arms accorded to him are recorded in a manuscript associated with the Lord Lyon, Sir James Balfour. <ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref> <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> Alexander Forsythe of Nydie's grandson James married a substantial heiress, Elizabeth Leslie, great granddaughter of James III. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref>

This branch of the Forsythe family were thereafter closely associated with the Leslies. They acquired lands around the royal palace of Falkland and in 1538 John Forsythe was appointed king's macer and later Falkland Pursuivant. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 140</ref> The present chief, Alistair Forsyth has connections with Falkland where his family was resident as Lairds at the end of the 16th century.<ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref>There are also records that show a family of Forsyth, believed to be the ancient Chiefly line, had been associated with the Royal House of Stewart and Falkland Palace since the end of the 14th century. From Nydie branches spread to Dundee and up the east coast to Aberdeen. Descendants are living today in North America and New Zealand as well as other parts of the United Kingdom.<ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref>

Monymusk

Another branch of the family settled near Monymusk and a William Forsyth represented Forres in the Parliament of 1621. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 141</ref> The Reverend Alexander John Forsyth was a pioneer in the development of modern firearms and his work led to the invention of the percussion lock, which replaced the flint lock during the eighteenth century. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 141</ref> He patriotically refused Napoleon's offer of £20,000 for the secrets of his invention. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 101</ref> William Forsyth, born at Old Meldrum in 1737 was a distinguished horticulturalist. He travelled to London where he studied in the botanical gardens in Chelsea. In 1784 he was appointned Chief Superintendent of the Royal Gardens at Kensington and St. Jame's Palace.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 141</ref> In honour of his research into plant diseases, and the discovery of a composition which inhibited disease in fruit trees there is a genus of plants called 'forsythia'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 141</ref>

Today

The present chief was recognised by the Lord Lyon in 1970 and has located the Clan Seat at Ethie Castle near Abroath. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 141</ref> There is an active Forsyth Clan Society, based in Scotland. It was founded in 1915 but was reformed in 1977. <ref>http://www.clanforsythsociety.net/</ref>

References

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