Category: Clan Straiton

Categories: Scottish Clans


A part of Scottish Clans

Family Manager: Doug Straiton

Quick Pages: Lands of the Straitons The Arms and Badges of the Straitons Straiton families of Perthshire


Clan Straiton/Straton

Contents

History of the Name

The first recorded usage of Straiton as a family name, in Scotland, was not until after 1124 and originated when King David I of Scotland granted the lands of Stratoun, then a small farmlet, just south of Edinburgh on the old Roman road, to an Alexander, filius Roberti (Alexander son of Robert) and, in the fashion typical of the Norman and Flemish nobles accompanying David I, the locality name, Stratoun, was subsequently adopted as the family name.

It should be noted that not all Stratons/Straitons have Scottish roots. The name is generally regarded as originating from Anglo-Saxon reference to the "old" Roman roads - "streats". Straton is simply a union of 'straet' meaning old roman road, and 'tun' means fortified ville (to the Romans a small holding, later village and to the Anglo-Saxons - town). Wynton's Chronicle notes[1] that Stratton, in Midlothian, was named because it was situated on the Roman street leading from the Roman station at Melros (apparently the Curia of the Otadini (or often known as Votadini)) to the Roman naval station at Cramund.

There were therefore localities in England at the same time and the name Straton appears to have existed in England prior to Scotland. The earliest records seems to be that by John Major in his “History of Greater Britain” where he records an Edrich de Straton as the murderer of King Edmund Ironside in 1016 (History, book 3, page 111). However research suggests that the English and Scottish were not connected. While the armorial of some of the English lines show similarities, suggesting lineage, there is no such relationship between the Scottish Stratons and those of England.

Arms: The undifferenced arms have not been confirmed but are often stated as Argent, three bars counter embattled Azure.
Supporters: Dexter, a lion rampant Or; sinister, a bloodhound Sable
Crest: a falcon rising proper
Motto: Surgere Tento (Rise again); Resurgere Tento (Strive to rise again); Ardua Vinco (overcome adversity)
Main seat: Lauriston castle, St. Cyrus, Kincardineshire

For more on the various arms borne by family members through time visit the page on Straiton family arms

Currently the clan has no known chief and is recognised by the Lord Lyon as an Armigerous clan. The last known Straton to bear arms were those of a cadet branch of the family; that of Kirkside. These were adopted by Sir Joseph Straton, paternally Muter, who, dying without heirs in 1840 passed the title and arms to his cousin George Thomas Straton, paternally Graham, and the line has faded. Sir Joseph Straton is noted for his role at the Battle of Waterloo and he commanded, as Muter, the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons in the Union Brigade, Major-General Hon Sir William Ponsonby commanding. It was called the "Union" Brigade as it consisted of the 1st Dragoons (English), 2nd (Royal Scots Greys) and 6th Dragoons (Inniskilling - Irish). On the order to charge the Royal Dragoons destroyed Bourgeois' brigade, capturing the eagle of the 105th Ligne. The Inniskillings routed the other brigade of Quoit's division, and the Greys destroyed most of Nogue's brigade, capturing the eagle of the 45th Ligne. The charge lost momentum and it was difficult to recall the squadrons. Ponsonby was killed, as was Hamilton, in Command of the Scots Greys. Command fell to Muter. He reformed the cavalry and counter-charged French cavalry numerous times at very high cost. By the end of the battle the entire cavalry force of two Brigades could only count one squadron. Muter had been wounded once and his horse three times. For his action he was awarded Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

The Kirkside arms are stated to be argent, three bars embattled, counter-embattled, gules, surmounted by as many bars, azure. Crest: an eagle rising, proper. Motto: Surgere tento (I strive to rise). These arms are consistent with those stated for the main house, differenced in colour and the surmount and differenced in the crest.

Myths and Legends of the Family

All families have "myths and legends" and ours is no exception. There are two that I think are worth exploring. If you have others drop me a line and we can put them out there for others to contribute to.

The Origin Myth

The "where did we come from myth". Many, including Stratons of Lauriston, start the lineage from the grant of land made to Alexander, filius (son of) Roberti around 1124 under David I. That publications states "... grant by David I (1123-1153) to Alexander the son of Robert of the lands of Straiton in the parish of Liberton, Midlothian. There is also evidence of a charter by William the Lion (1165-1214)". I have not seen either of the original source material[2] as they are not freely available and thus can only speculate.

So, we can presume that a family came into possession of a property named Stratoun (likely) around 1130 and probably associated with the importation of the Norman and Flemish Knights favoured by David I. David married Maud of Lens who, although often portrayed as a Norman family, were indeed Flemish. They were to hold onto this land, less being forfeit of half of it for siding with Scotland during the Wars of Independence, until 1696 - nearly 600 years of continuous occupation by families carrying our name.

Supporting the Norman/Flemish theory of origin is the allocation of land in the Lothians, David's own dominion, to which he allocated land to many of his household; a position in the Royal household which the Stratons seem to have held for many generations (up to and including Alexander III); and close association with other Flemish families and allegiance to the Balliol family.

On the other side though is the fact that a number of sources suggest that the family was "anciently of Lauriston" and the like. There has been a suggestion that the grant of land by David indicates that it was to Alexander, filius Roberti of Streeton which would suggest that the family actually held the land prior and this grant was simply one of inheritance.

Lineage in the Armorial

In consideration of this topic I have reviewed the arms carried anciently by the family. The first conclusive evidence of arms carried by the family are those carried by a Sir Richard de Straton, at times envoy for Alexander III. He appears frequently in the service of Alexander III and seems to have lived from about 1235 until his death in 1296, possibly at the Battle of Dunbar. His seal is depicted in Bain's[3] as "A shield with an orle vaire (or compone), a plain canton dexter: S RICHARDI DE STRATUN". Based on what we know of the tinctures in use by the family this can be depicted as or, an orle vair, a canton gules; as shown here.

What is interesting here is the use of the "orle", or voided escutcheon as it is sometimes seen, which was not in common use in Scottish arms but does appear in French and Flemish. There was one family that consistently used the orle - that of the Balliols. If I could work the formatting on this page I would run up a box of them to illustrate. However to cut to the chase there was a Knight, Robert de Balliol that carried the arms or, orle vair, around 1130 and can be seen on the Armorial scrolls of the day. These arms are illustrated here.

It certainly doesn't take much imagination to suggest that the armorial of the Straton's were derived from that of this line of Balliol. That he was called Robert further strengthens the case. That the Stratons aligned with the Balliol family and were indeed one of his jurors during the Edward I deliberations further suggests an allegiance.

The Legend of Harlaw

The Battle of Harlaw fought on the 24th July 1411, just north west of Inverurie, has many legends and myths. But our family consistently, indeed persistently, tells us that the "The stalwart laird of Laurestoun, slain in his armour sheen” (an Alexander Straton) was not the only one of his familiy to die on that field. Some families say six sons died with him, some say seven, some say six sons and six sons in law. What is the true story? We may never know but it's certainly worth having a look at.

Does anyone have any original, or near original, material tucked away that provides evidence to this myth.

For the record Stratons of Lauriston; page 4a attests that Alexander Straton of Lauriston died with six sons and six son in laws. This was also told by my father and I know he had never read that book. In my research I have found evidence of one son John and a son in law, Sir William Deuchar of that Ilk that had married Janet Straton. Deuchar is recorded as having died, his grip so strong on his sword, his attendant cut off the hand and took the sword back to the family with the hand still attached. Deucher is known to have had children by this date and likely aged about 40 at the time of the battle. Probably other sons in law include Sir Andrew Carlisle who was amongst the dead and Sir Thomas Sommerville amongst the wounded only to die later. A Sir Alexander Stirling may also have been one of the sons in law. The sons? Clearly there was another Alexander because the line survived that field. Any others?

Aside from the issue of the legend it also seriously effects the lineage and the family genealogy. The area is brushed over in Stratons of Lauriston but for any chance for the legend to be true the gentleman Sir Alexander Straton of Lauriston (Stalwart Laird of Laurison), who is recorded to have married an Anne Berkelay (Barclay of Mathers family), must have been born around 1350, married around 1373, at the latest - thus over 60 on the field of battle. There is a seal of his, holding title to Lauriston and as a Knight, in 1376 thus likely over 24 at the time.

It also seems likely that their eldest son, another Alexander, who married a Lady Christian of Moray, also died on the field and the grandson, another Alexander, would inherit. This is supported in the fact that Lady Christian is recorded as being in possession of the title in what would have been her sons infancy.

Any thoughts?

Family Dispersed

The families of the Middle Ages, even until recently, lived under the rule of Primogeniture. Under this rule everything went to the first born male child that survived until adulthood. Within the family of Stratons, as they were generally known, the holdings were tightly held until the 16th Century. For those interested there is a Profile page developed to consider the holdings. "Lands of the Stratons" will collect all the material we have on these lands, that were once held by the family. If your explorations take you there, go and visit, take photographs to share with us all.

Under this law of primogeniture younger sons were often left to fend for themselves, finding "glory' on the battlefield or in marriage, moving to farms and cities. Many would become the tenant farmers working adjacent properties or those of relatives that may have lacked sons. This distinction is made in the use of titles "of the rabbit hole" indicates that they held title to the property while "in the rabbit hole" indicates they were leasing the title to the property. However, with few exceptions, the majority of the families, until the mid 17th Century, remained close to the main holdings in Midlothian, Angus and Mearns and Perthshire. It is from these centres that the families will disperse after the holdings are sold in the 17th Century.

The last of the lands were sold in 1696 with the exception of one landed family; that "of Kirkside" (or Ecclescraig as it was sometimes known). But, by then and immediately following, the families were shifting. The Jacobite Rebellions, in which the main line families were staunchly Jacobite, created further impetus to move and families started to leave Scotland.

In the research I have found lines that went to Canada; Australia; Jamaica; and the then American Colonies. I know some of these lines still have surviving members. Drop me a line and we can open a page to explore opportunities to get together and share memories of lost families.

Work in Progress

I have started to index the various Census material available on Family Search, starting with those of Scotland for the 19th century. The name, whether Straiton, Straton or a variant, was still rare enough to allow some guesses to be made regarding family groups. If you notice an error please feel free to fix the error and change the family groups.

Additional Reading

There are two publications in the public domain that are worth pursuing:

1. A Book of Strattons by Harriet Russell Stratton , 1908. This publication is on 2 parts with Part 1 referenced here. Part 1 deals with both English and Scottish source families. Part 2 of the book deals with their arrival in the American "colonies" and the subsequent distribution. Her dealings with the Scottish family is not entirely accurate but the publication provides an overview of the distinction between English and Scottish family lines.

2. Stratons of Lauriston by Charles Henry Straton, orig 1932, 2nd Ed 2000. This publication is under review and being managed by Jack Straton, a descendent of the Midlothian line. The publication deals with the main line of the family and their main holdings. While the focus is certainly on the main families and their distribution over time it also attempts to cover some of the other family groups. Essential reading for anyone with a surname of Straiton and with Scottish roots.

Names associated with the clan: Str•aton, •aiton, •acten, •aetoun, •aiten, •aition, •aitoun, •aitoune, •aitten, •aittone, •aittoun, •aittoune, •atan, •aten, •atin, •ation, •atone, •atonn, •atoun, •atoune, •attan, •atten, •attin, •atton, •attone, and •autoun

Sources

  1. The Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland; Wyntoun, v3, page 286; Notes on vol 2, page 355
  2. The acts of William I, King of Scots, 1165-1214, ed G. W. S. Barrow, (Edinburgh University Press, 1971) p. 480, #581 being the second
  3. #S-1 Bain's ii, page 77, No. 272; Page 539, Seal no 56 and Plate III, no 16
  • Source S-1 Public Record Office. Calendar of documents relating to Scotland preserved in Her Majesty's Public Record Office, London. Vol. II. Edinburgh: H. M. General Register House, 1881. Open Library

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