Clan Forsyth

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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Forsyth


Welcome to Clan Forsyth

Clan Forsyth Team
Team Leader Marsha (Cain) Richardson
Team Members
Forsyth Badge: A Griffin Sergeant Azore Armed and Membered Sable, crowned Or

Origin of the Surname

The surname Forsyth (Forsith, de Forsith, and other spellings) is first found in 12th century Scotland.

In George Frasher Black's book, The Surnames of Scotland, he suggests that the origin of the surname is two-fold.

  1. From a place of that name due to the frequency the name appears in the old Scottish records with the prefix “de”.
  2. From the old Gaelic personal name Fearsithe, meaning ‘man of peace". He goes on to say that by Gaelic speakers the name is sometimes pronounced Forsay (for-sigh).

Another legend suggests a Norman called Forsach.

For a more in-depth study on the origin of surnames, please visit the the Forsythe Y-DNA project page. Forsyth YDNA Project

Forsyth Tartan

According to Scottish Register of Tartans, the Forsyth Tartan was designed by William Forsyth 1795. There are two tartans, one is the Ancient and the other is the modern. The modern is what you see as the background of this page. The Ancient is more subdued.

Clan Chief: Alistair C.W. Forsyth of that Ilk
Crest: A Griffin Sergeant Azore Armed and Membered Sable, crowned Or
Motto: Instaurator ruinae, meaning The restorer of ruins * Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of the Streets of Dwelling.
Slogan/War Cry:
Region: Lowlands; Lanarkshire, Stirlingshire
Historic Seat: Inchnoch Castle
Plant badge: Forsythia (William Forsyth, a botanist, who the Forsythia was named for.
Pipe music:
Gaelic name: Clann Fearsithe

Clan Team

Team Goals

The focus of this team's work is to identify, improve and maintain profiles associated with the Lairds and Chiefs of Clan Forsyth together with members bearing the name Forsyth, the related families.

Team To Do List

This list will be developed by the Team. If you are working on a specific task, please list it here:

  • promoting the entries of those bearing the name Forsyth on Wikitree.
    • Here is the updated Forsyth index and Forsythe Index. If you are a Forsyth and add yourself or an ancestor your addition will be on the list tomorrow morning.
  • ensuring entries appearing on Wikitree are as accurate as possible, correcting mistakes once spotted.
  • encouraging interest in and study of Clan Forsyth

Clan History

Below are only some of the highlights of our verified history. Visit the Clan Society websites listed at the end of the page for more information.

1296 The Ragman Rolls

Although a number of web sources suggest a William de Fearsith appears on the Ragman Rolls in 1296, this name was not found. What is found are: Robert del Faufyde of Edinburgh and William de Faufyde of Roxburgh. However, Alistair Forsyth of that Ilk, on 24 December 2022, suggests that these two men were from a different family, The Fausydes, who derived their name from the Cumbrian Manor House.

1306 Land Grant

Osbert, Land Grant, System of Heraldry page 344

Osbert, son of Robert de Fersithe, was given a grant of land in Sauchie [Clackmannanshire] from King Robert the Bruce in 1306. Evidence of this was found in Alexander Nisbet's book, System of Heraldry, Vol 1 page 344 System of Heraldry and in the Register of the Great seal, Vol 451 item 40 Great Seat Vol 1 Both of these made references to Haddington's MS.

A copy of the page from Haddington's Manuscrip obtained from the National Libary of Scotland and is found on this page - Osbert's Land Grant by Robert The Bruce as found in Haddington's Manuscript

The curator of the Archives and Manuscripts Collection of the National Library of Scotland (about 2018) said; “Thomas Hamilton, 1st Earl of Haddington, lived from 1563 to 1637.  The manuscript itself bears no date.  However, in the early years of his work as Lord Advocate, i.e. the late 1590s and the years just after 1600, Hamilton is said to have been particularly busy copying records from older documents, so the manuscript might date from roughly 1600.  However, he may have added to it later, and dating to the early 17th century might be safest.”

1364 Fersith was Constable of Stirling need to add source

1365 William de Fersith was bailie of Edinburgh need to add source

1513 David Forsyth (Forsith) Killed at the Battle of Flodden while fighting under the King's standard( (King James IV) . This is found in Exchequer Rolls of Scotland Vol XIV page 167 and page 627; Internet Archives, Exchequer Rolls of Scotland Vol XIV

1513 Alexander Forsyth of Nydie Killed at the Battle of Flodden This can be found in The Scottish Antiquary, or Norther Notes & Queries, Vol 11 Page 168-9, Scottish Antiquary

bef 1542 the Arms of Forsycht of Nyde

This drawing comes from a book originally published by Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, King of Arms in the reign of James the Fifth (1513-1542). Page 10 of the book tells us that Sir James Balfour of Denmiln, King of Arms owned this book and wrote that it had been authenticated by the Privy Council of Scotland in the year 1630.

Forsycht of Nyde

1582 A will for Alexander Forsyth of Nydie can be found on the ScotlandsPeople website. So far I've not been able to transcribe or determine what language it is written in./ref>

1588 A will for James Forsyth of Nydie can be found on the ScotlandsPeople website. So far I've not been able to transcribe or determine what language it is written in.

1614 A will for James Forsyth of Dykes can be found on the ScotlandsPeople website. Will is written in Secretary Hand. Has been transcribed and found in the pirvate pages of the Clan Forsyth Society USA website.

1661 Clan Forsyth in Historical Darkness It was about this time that Clan Forsyth entered historical darkness when the ships of Oliver Cromwell carrying the records of all the clans as spoils of war sank off Berwick upon Tweed. See "The Scotsman"

1672 Public Register of Clans After the period of the Cromwell occupation, Charles II instituted a Public Register for Clans and their Chiefs. Clan Forsyth, which had previously been recognized, refused to register, suggesting they did not support Charles II. They were consequently stripped of recognition and title.

Note: It is known that in 1672 James Forsyth registered his Arms ( see below). Was this the same as being recognized as chief? If so, then maybe Clan Forsyth went into historical darkness after his death. James died 3 November 1675 without a bloodline heir. He had however adopted his nephew, James Bruce, who changed his surname to Forsyth.

1672 James Forsyth of Tailzertoune

Here's an image.

James Forsyth of Talizertoune, minister of Stirling, descended from the Forsyth of Dykes, designed Hallhill. registered his coat of arms and motto. "Argent, a chevron engrailed Gules between three griffins sergeant Azure armed and membered Sable, Crowned Or" "Instaurator ruinae". This can be found at ScotlandsPeople $ Also mentioned in Robert Stodart's book "Scottish Arms: A Collection of Armorial Bearings AD 1370-1678" on page 297.

James died about 1675. Register of Testaments 1607-1800'

1978 St Andrew's Day For 300 years there was no chief and no chief meant, no clan. During this time, the Family of Forsyth grew and spread world wide. In 1978 Lord Lyon, King of Arms, accepted the claim of Alistair Forsyth, the Baron of Ethie, that he had the right to the Title of Clan Chief of Clan Forsyth. Clan Forsyth Story

1996 The Return of the Stone of Scone

In 1996 Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Michael Forsyth) was the Secretary of State for Scotland. He played a role in the return of the Stone of Scone to Scotland. See the Daily Record article, "Man Who got Stone of Destiny to Scotland backs PA campaign".

Forsyth Castles or Castles they had connections to

  1. Stirling Castle1) Robert Forsyth was Constable of the Castle 2) David was Esquire, William was one of 15 Young grooms and both were chosen to be companions to James V until he reached manhood. 3) Margaret Forsyth of Hallhill, married Sir Duncan Forrester of Garden who was Chancellor to James IV. Their son was christened in Stirling Chapel and James IV was there. (need to add souce and date)
  2. Hallhill Before 1488 David Forsyth, Burgess of Stirling, bought the land of Dykes, otherwise known as hallhill. This was near Strathaven in Lanarkshrie.
  3. Inchnock was an old castle of the Forsyth of Dykes. It was built by David Forsyth of Dykes in the mid to late 1500's. It is thought to have fallen into ruin in the middle of the 17th century. Only fragments of the tower still remain. See Inchnoch Tower for a map and more detail.
  4. Glen Gorm Castle on the Isle of Mull was build by James Forsyth of the Dumfries branch.
  5. Falkland Palace John Forsyth was appointed as the King's macer in 1538 and the Falkland Pursuivant in 1548. See The Court of the Lord Lyon


Clan Forsyth is a whole name Clan, without septs, but many spellings of the name are found throughout history. The most common today is Forsyth and Forsythe. In the old books of Scotland, the name is often found as Forsith, Forsuiyth, Fersith, Fersithe, and often with the De preceding the name.

Clan Branches

Forsyth of Nydie

Forsyth of Dykes

Clan Research and Free Space Pages

To learn more about the Forsyths, please visit this Wiki Profile Forsyth/Forsythe Family History

Source Material

  1. Isaiah 58:12, Bible, Bible Gateway,Isiah 58:12 : accessed 20 Aug 2021
  2. Nisbet, Alexander, System of Heraldry Vol 1 page 344, Edinburgh, 1816, Internet Archive,online book,System of Heraldry Vol 1 : Accessed 20 Aug 2021
  3. Paul, James Balfour, and others, Edinburgh, 1912, Carta Osberti Filii Forsyth, The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, Vol 1, page 451 item 40 Great Seal Vol 1 : Accessed 20 Aug 2021
  4. Coat of Arms, James Forsyth of Tailzertounde, Scotlandspeople, page 303z.(James Forsyth, coat of arms and motto) Coat of Arms $ ; Accessed 20, Aug 2021
  5. MacKay, J.G edited, The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland 1513-1522, Edinburgh 1893, Vol 14, page, Internet Archives, Online book, The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland Vol14 : Accessed 20 Aug 2021
  6. Lindsay, Sir David, Lyon King of Arms 1542, Fac Simile of the Ancient Herladric Manuscripts Emplazed by 1822, Page 71, online book, (Forscycht of Nyde arms drawing) Sir David Lindsay
  7. On this day 1661: Thousands of Scotland's Historic Records Destroyed, The Scotsman, website, The Scotsman
  8. Dickie, Douglas, Man who got Stone of Destiney to Scotland backs PA campaign, Daily Record, online newspaper, Stone of Scone : Accessed 21 Aug 2021
  9. Stodart, Robert, Scottish Arms : being a collection of armorial bearings, A.D. 1370-1678, reproduced in facsimile from contemporary manuscripts, with heraldic and genealogical notes , Edinburgh, 1881, (INCLUDED IN THIS BOOK is Workman's Manuscripts dated 1623 or earlier page 227 (Forsyth of that Ilk) , and Lindsay II, King of Arms, (1602-5) pages 297-8 (numerous Forsyth entries)Scottish Arms : Accessed 21 Aug 2021
  10. Stevenson, J. H. Editor, Edinburgh, 1886 The Scottish Antiquary, Or, Northern Notes & Queries, Volumes 11-13, Google Books, online books Scottish Antiquary : Accessed 21, Aug 2021
  11. Forsyth, The Scottish Register of Tartans, National Records for Scotland, The Scottish Register of Tartans : Accessed 22 Aug 2021
  12. Grant, Francis, edited, Scottish Record Society, The Commissariot Record of Stirling, Register of Testaments 1607-1800, Edinburgh 1904, Internet Archive, online book, page 59 James Forsyth, minister of Stirling, . 6 March 1676 and other Forsyths mentioned here. Register of Testaments 1607-1800 : Accessed 25, August 2021
  13. The Court of the Lord Lyon, Falkland Pursuivant Extraordinary, website Falkland Pursuivant: accessed 11 July 2022.
  14. Black, Geroge Fraser, The Surnames of Scotland, 1866-1948. page 274 Hatitrust, digital library Surnames of Scotalnd; Accessed 16 July 2022.
  15. Ragman Rolls of 1296, Ragman Rolls

See Also


Image Credits and Acknowledgements


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