The Glasgow Surname Project

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Surnames/tags: Glasgow Glasco Glasford
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Ancient Origins

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  • If you're researching the Glasgow name head over to the Glasgow Research page to find DNA information, family bibiles, etc.
  • The Glasgow Ancient YDNA page gives an overview of the ancestrial origins of the Glasgow's between 3000BC and 1450CE.
  • The Glasgow Modern DNA page picks up from 1450CE.

House of Walter

The earliest documented occurrence of the Glasgow surname is associated with Master John de Glasgu (1258). He served as the chaplain for Bishop Gamelin and was a respected member of Walter's household, often referred to as the cardinal of Glasgow. This association is evidenced by historical documents from 1258, specifically from the Charter Book of the Priory of St. Andrew's, during the reign of King Alexander III over Scotland from 1249 to 1286[1][2][3].

The lineage of Glasgow and its connection to subsequent namesakes over the ensuing decades remains ambiguous, however, the scope of Gamelin's influence and political dynamics during that era provide a contextual framework for further exploration.

  • In 1289, Andrew de Glasgow, an official within the burgh, was designated to oversee and report "escheats" or forfeitures within the county to the Exchequer[4].
  • By 1299, another John of Glasgow emerged as a monk of Holyrood (Bain, II, 1052).
  • In 1343, John de Glasgu was compensated for services rendered to the king's table (ER., I, p. 531)[5].

There's speculation that the John mentioned above may align with Master John de Glasgow (1379 - 1419), who held notable religious positions such as the Vicar of St. Mary’s (Kilwinning) and Canon of Moray, and was recognized as a member of Walter's household once more.

Intriguingly, a 1413 petition to the Pope recounts a tale of John Lang despoiling John (1379 x 1419) of his canonry at Dunkeld, hinting at the enduring influence of the House of Walter during this period[6]. Fast forward to 1475-1479, Bishop John [Laing] of Glasgow received a charter from King James III, endorsing the religious authority over the city, barony, and lands of Glasgow[7].

Moving to the period between 1384 and 1394, William de Glasgu, a priest, was bestowed with ecclesiastical responsibilities over the abbot and convent of Kilwinning & Kelso in 1394[8]. His alternative names, Wan, Wau, or Walteri, and his association with St. Mary's chapel link him to John de Glasgow (1379 - 1419) and the enduring legacy of the House of Walter.

The House of Walter denotes a recurrent theme in the Glasgow heritage records pre-1419, hinting at a lineage or discipleship traceable to Walter Capellanus (meaning "chaplain") who is contemporarily mentioned with Johnne (1258 x 1258)[9].

Given the recurring clerical positions held by individuals bearing the Glasgow surname, particularly within the ecclesiastical realms of Kilwinning and Kelso, it's plausible that the Glasgow surname originated from Latinized Tironensian monks who later ascended to chaplaincy and cardinal positions within Glasgow's religious establishment.

Glasgow Family Memorials

Kelso and Kilwinning are underscored above as John de Glasgu (1258 x 1258) is believed to have hailed from Kelso, and the Glasgow family remained notable figures in Kilwinning until the late 18th century. The Glasgow family memorials are among the few remnants still intact at the ruins of Kilwinning Abbey.

The Glasgow name continued to thrive in both Kilwinning and Kelso. For more details, refer to the Earls of Glencairn section.

The Clerks of Glasgow

In the document, The Protocols of The Town Clerks of Glasgow, the first tangible traces of the Glasgow surname are recorded along with evidence of the name being inherited through generations.

  • (1536 x 1575) John Glasgow marries Jonet Spreull and has at least two children.
    • (1550 x 1598) Stephen Glasgow was elected water bailie from a leet of two, subject to the curious declaration that if he were found culpable and negligent in his duties, not keeping the statutes set down for that effect, he should be immediately deprived of his office.
  • (1550 x 1568) Robert Glasgow appears as a fisher alongside him
  • (1536 x 1585) William Glasgow & Margaret Herbesoun
Protocols of the Town Clerks records

These relationships can be explored further on John Glasgow (abt.1500-).

Kilwinning & Kilbirnie

The narrative of the Glasgow surname expands prominently within the Cunninghame districts of Ayrshire, engraving its mark particularly in the parishes of Irvine, Kilbirnie, Kilwinning, and Stevenson.



Related: Glasgow Surname in the Scottish Borders Research Page

Tracing the Glasgow surname back to its roots, John de Glasgu of 1258 is identified as a chaplain to bishop Gamelin in Kilbucho, Peeblesshire, within the Scottish Borders.

In 1638, the National Covenant is signed by thousands of Scots, initiating a resistance against Charles's alterations to the kirk. Following victories in the 1639 and 1640 Bishops' Wars, the Covenanters seize control of Scotland.

The Restoration of 1660 heralds a dark period for the Covenanters, who lose control of the kirk and endure persecution, spurring armed rebellions and ushering in a grim epoch from 1679 to 1688, known as "The Killing Time".

In a harrowing event of 1679, The Croune of London is shipwrecked with 257 prisoners aboard, destined for banishment to the American Plantations. Amidst the survivors were John Glasgow (abt.1650-) and William Glasgow (bef.1658-) from Cavers, Roxburghshire parish.

... - William Glasgow, The History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America, with Sketches of all her Ministry, Congregations, Missions, Institutions, Publications, etc. (Baltimore: Hill & Harvey, Publishers, 1888), 245.

William (Glasgow) Glass (1786-1853) pioneers the settlement that evolves into Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the remotest community in the world. The rules he established remain the societal cornerstone in Tristan da Cunha today, fostering communal unity, equitable employment opportunities, and a culture of shared resources.


In tracing the Glasgow surname across geographical boundaries, notable mentions surface in County Antrim, Ireland. The earliest recorded Glasgows in this region include James Glasgow (abt.1650-1727) and John Glascho, as seen in the 1669 Hearth Money Rolls for Kilwaughter Parish. The Gaelic rendering of Glasgow as Glascho marks a cultural etymological nuance. The Hearth Money Rolls, structured by county and parish, documented householders alongside a hearth count, with a tax levy of 2 shillings per hearth. Both Jas. and Jo. Glascho of Kilwaughter were listed with a singular hearth each.

The relationship between James and John Glascho warrants speculation— whether they were siblings, father and son, or other kin remains unclear. However, a temporal overlap is discernible, with both being adult householders in 1669 and continuing active church participation three decades hence. The 1700 session minutes from the Head of the Town Meeting House in Larne13 exhibit mentions of a James Glasgow1, a John Glasgow1, sen., and a Robert Glasgow1.

Fast forwarding to 1890, a birth census unfolds the Scottish familial roots in Ireland, indicating a population of 312-314 individuals bearing the Glasgow surname, residing exclusively in the Ulster province. This geographic concentration spans across Tyrone, Antrim, and Armagh counties.[10] [11]

The narrative extends with William Glasgow (abt.1655-) and his progeny in Ireland, as chronicled in the History of the Glasgow Family by William Melanchthon Glasgow (1856-1909). A curious claim within posits the original Glasgow name as 'Cameron', though a deeper delve suggests a connection to the Cameronian Regiment rather than a direct surname lineage. Established on 14th May 1689 in Douglas Lanarkshire from Covenanters' ranks, this regiment—named after notable Covenanter Richard Cameron—reflects the staunch resistance against the Stuart kings' Episcopal church governance imposition over Scottish Presbyterians. This historical tapestry of religious and political struggle, epitomized in the Dunkeld battle merely three months post-regiment formation, entwines with the Glasgow surname narrative, offering a rich backdrop for its Irish and Scottish chronicles.

This segment thus encapsulates the Glasgow surname's migration and evolution across the Irish Sea, embedded within broader socio-political and religious frameworks, while leaving room for further genealogical exploration.

The Age of Discovery

The section on "The Age of Discovery & Modern Times" elaborates on the voyages and settlements of numerous individuals sharing the Glasgow surname across America and New Zealand during the 18th and 19th centuries. It further traces the notable contributions and legacies of several Glasgows across different fields in modern times. Additionally, the page provides insight into the frequency and variations of the Glasgow surname across different regions and periods, alongside an exploration of its Gaelic roots and Anglicised forms. The detailed accounts of their journeys, settlements, and contributions can now be explored on the [new page](link to the new page).


There are four men total who carry the surname Capellanus[12].

  • (1147 x 1147) John Capellanus, early 12th-century Tironensian cleric. He was the chaplain and close confidant of king David I of Scotland before becoming Bishop of Glasgow and founder of Glasgow Cathedral. He was one of the most significant religious reformers in the history of Scotland
  • (1150 x 1184) Andreas Capellanus, (also known as Andrew the Chaplain or André le Chapelain), 12th-century author of a treatise commonly known as De amore ("About Love")[13]
  • (1195 - 1232) Walter Capellanus, of St Albans, bishop of Glasgow, An important cleric and politician in the Kingdom of Scotland during the reigns of kings William the Lion and Alexander II
  • (1214 - 1249) Robert Capellanus, chaplain of King William I of Scotland and afterwards, Bishop of Ross


  4. (ER., I, p. 47),
  10. Hanna, Charles Augustus, The Scotch-Irish: Or, the Scot in North Britain, North Ireland, and North America Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2005. Print (ISBN 9780806301686
  11. Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland

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