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Origin of Tulloch surname

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Tulloch is a Scottish locational surname of Medieval origin, from the Gaelic word Tulach - literally a small hill. The name has been given to various places in Scotland including a settlement near Dingwall in the north of Scotland and the nearby Tulloch Castle. [1]

In 1254, the Registrorum Abbacie de Aberbrothoc' (Register of Arbroath Abbey) recorded an estate called "Tulloch" or "Tulach", in Angus, northeast Scotland, which is the first record of the name. This village is now called "Tulloes" and is in the Parish of Dunnichen. [2] It appears that this is the "small hill" that most of the Tullochs in the world take their name from.

There are currently around 8,000 - 11,000 Tullochs in the world, depending on the source. The largest country is Britain, with between 2,000[3] to 3,000[4], followed by the United States with 1,700[3] to 2,500[5] Jamaica comes third with around 2,300,[5] the highest density of any country in the world, said to be descended from two Scottish brothers who married Afro-Caribbean women. Most of these people self-identify as "black" [6] although their racial heritage is about 16% european. [7]

Canada has between 850[4] and 1,300[8][5] and Australia has between 600[3] and 1,500[4]. New Zealand has nearly 300[4] and South Africa around 300.[5]

In addition there are around 1,000 people with the surname Tullock[9] and 4,300 people with the surname Tullis[10], which is believed to derive from Tulloch.


Earliest recorded Tullochs

The first recorded person with the surname was Alexander of Tulleth, recorded in 1360 as a collector of contributions from Glenbervie and Cowie, in Kincardineshire, on the east coast of Scotland. [11] Sir Nicolas de Tolach witnessed a deed at Brechin Cathedral in 1365. [12]

Walter de Tulach was listed as the "Keeper of Kildrummy Castle" in 1363. He receiving a charter of the lands of Kinnell, Forfarshire, in 1390 from Hugh Fraser, laird of Lovat, the Chief of Clan Fraser.[13] Later he received a charter of Bonnyton - a hamlet between Maryton and Carcary, just west of Montrose - from King Robert II. Meanwhile, a Nicholas de Tolach, possibly unrelated, was recorded as a witness in a document dated 1364 from Brechin, which is 8 miles west of Montrose. [1]

In 1399, King Robert III of Scotland granted John Tulloch, the office of "Keeper of the Moor of Monrommon", which is about 4 miles southwest of Brechin. This office was held by the Tullochs of Hillcarnie family until 1583 when it was sold to the Wood family. [14]

Walter de Tulloch's grandson, Walter Tulloch, married ca. 1450 the daughter of David Ogilvy, part of the aristocratic Ogilvie family. [15]

Walter's son, Thomas Tulloch was promoted in 1418 from the presbyter of Brechin to be the Bishop and Governor of Orkney. He was the first in a long line of Tulloch clergymen, many appointed by local lairds exercising their rights of patronage. Thomas appointed three relatives - Malise, David and then Thomas - as the Archdeacon of Shetland and Andrew de Tulloch as the Archdeacon of Orkney. The last was appointed precentor of Moray in 1444, on the instigation of Thomas Tulloch, Bishop of Ross.[16]

He resigned in 1461 in favour of his uncle, William de Tulloch. William was promoted to Bishop of Moray in 1477 and was Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland from 1470 to 1482.

A different, possibly unrelated, Thomas de Tulloch became the Bishop of Ross in 1440 and a Hector Tulloch became the Archdeacon of Caithness in 1445. A Robert de Tulloch was Archdeacon of Moray in 1443 and a Thomas de Tulloch was Archdeacon of Lothian (an appointee of the Orkney Bishops) from 1441-1444.

The Tulloch Bishops were known in the history of Orkneys for settling Scottish people, including many of their relatives, on the Northern Islands, which had just been granted from Norway to Scotland as a wedding dowry. As a consequence, by 1881 there were 719 families on Orkney and Shetland, which was over a third of all Tullochs in Scotland and more than any other county.

Another family recorded here is the descendents of John Tulloch, who was born in 1770 in the Shetland Islands.

Moray Tullochs

Back in Angus, Bishop William's brother, John Tulloch, was created Baron of Craigneston in 1494. His great great grandson, Robert Tulloch, was created in 1574 the first Laird of Tannachy, a hamlet just outside Forres, in Moray, 100 miles northwest of Montrose. Robert's son, Patrick Tulloch, was Archdeacon of Moray from 1613 to 1638. The Tannachy property stayed in the Tulloch family for the next 200 years, before being sold by the seventh laird. Many of the family were involved in the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745, many were killed at the Battle of Culloden or had property seized from them afterwards. Of the remainder, several joined the British Army, providing senior officers for a number of generation. This included Major-General Sir Alexander Murray Tulloch, who worked on army statistics during the Crimean War and Major-General Alexander Bruce Tulloch, military commandant for the Colony of Victoria in Australia.

Fife Tullochs

There is a family of Tulloch salt workers recorded in Fife from 1636. Salt walking was an occupation that was reported to run in families: Salt makers were said to be "born not made" and therefore it tended to be hereditary. Between 1606 and 1775 salters were bonded labour, a form of serfdom, and were barred from moving to a new employer without consent and regularly subjected to corporal punishment and imprisonment.

Genetic genealogy

Six people who are male line descendants of a Tullis, who believe they are descended from Tullochs, have been tested for their Y DNS and found to match.[17] The full results for one of these people is here was shown using this calculator to be Haplogroup R1a. The closest Haplotype is "R1a #12", which is most frequently found among Romani, Viking and Kabardinian groups. Given the geographical context, this supports a link to the Viking settlement of Britain between 800-1000. [18]

A descendant of John Tully (abt 1757-1828), from Perthshire, was tested and found to be R1b. [5] This Haplogroup is the most common in eastern Scotland, making up 60% of the population. It is believed to have come to Britain in around 2,000 with the Celtic settlement.[6]

Davidsons of Tulloch

The Davidson of Tulloch family owned an estate near Tulloch Castle. This family is not related to the other Tullochs noted here. There is a farm in St Catherine, Jamaica named after Henry Davidson of Bedford Square, in the County of Middlesex, and of Tulloch Castle, Dingwall, county of Ross) who was a Partner in the firm of Davidson and Graham with Charles Graham, 8th of Drynie, who purchased this estate.


  1. 1.0 1.1 SurnameDB page
  2. http://poms.cch.kcl.ac.uk/db/record/source/4050/# See this map for the three locations referred.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 British Surnames entry
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 World Names
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Forebears (2014), accessed 2016-10-19
  6. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/TullochKindred/ for examples
  7. Simms, Tanya M.; Rodríguez, Carol E.; Rodríguez, Rosa; Herrera, René J. (May 2010). "The genetic structure of populations from Haiti and Jamaica reflect divergent demographic histories". Am J Phys Anthropol. 142: 63. doi:10.1002/ajpa.21194. PMID 19918989. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  8. Based on 418 phone book entries for Tulloch/Tullock per [1]
  9. British Surnames entry
  10. [2]
  11. Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, ii 40, cited in Some Notes on Early Tullochs, The Scottish Genealogist, March 1994
  12. Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis 21; Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum ii 494; both cited in Some Notes on Early Tullochs, The Scottish Genealogist, March 1994
  13. Grant of land to Walter Tulloch
  14. Great Moor of Monrommon
  15. Walter Tulloch in the peerage of Scotland
  16. [3]
  17. Tullis DNS Project
  18. [4]

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Categories: Tulloch Name Study