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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Tams family come from? What is the Scottish Tams family crest and coat of arms? When did the Tams family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Tams family history?

In the Scottish/English Borderlands, the Strathclyde Britons were the first to use the name Tams. It is derived from the ancient personal name Thomas, meaning twin.

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In Medieval times, spelling and translation were not nearly so highly developed as today. They were generally carried out according to the sound and intuition of the bearer. For that reason spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. Tams has been spelled Thomson, Tomson, Tamson, Thomsoun, M'Comie and others.

First found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where the first listings of the name were found in the early 1300s. They include: John Thomson, "a man of low birth, but approved valour", leader of the men of Carrick in Edward Bruce's war in Ireland in 1318 and Adam Thomson who was listed as Lord of Kylnekylle, Ayrshire c. 1370-80. Closing out that century was Johannes filius Thome who was elected bailie of Aberdeen in 1398.[1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tams research. Another 361 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1318, 1370, 1461, 1547, 1668, 1700, 1619, 1676, 1799 and 1841 are included under the topic Early Tams History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 83 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Tams Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Tams family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 33 words(2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Unrest, poverty, and persecution caused thousands to look for opportunity and freedom in the North American colonies. The crossing was long, overcrowded, and unsanitary, though, and came only at great expense. Many Strathclyde families settled on the east coast of North America in communities that would form the backbone of what would become the great nations of the United States and Canada. The American War of Independence caused those who remained loyal to England to move north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, Strathclyde and other Scottish families across North America began to recover their collective heritage through highland games and Clan societies. Among them:

Tams Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Sampson, Tams Jr., who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850

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  • John Tams (b. 1949), English actor, singer, songwriter, composer and musician from Holbrook, Derbyshire
  • Theo Tams (b. 1985), Canadian singer


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  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)

Other References

  1. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  2. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  3. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  6. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  7. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  8. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  10. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  11. ...

The Tams Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Tams Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 11 December 2013 at 12:41.

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