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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


A family in the Pictish tribe of ancient Scotland was the first to use the name Balbirnie. They lived in the lands of Balbirnie in Fife. The name is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.

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The surname Balbirnie was first found in Fife, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

In medieval Scotland, names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules. An enormous number of spelling variations were the result. Over the years, the name Balbirnie has been spelled Balbirnie, Balbirney, Ballbirnie, Ballbirney, Ballbyrnie, Bawbyrny, Baldbernie and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Balbirnie research. Another 193 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1260, 1483, 1508, 1622 and 1699 are included under the topic Early Balbirnie History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Balbirnie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Balbirnie family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In such difficult times, Ireland, Australia, and North America looked like better homes for many Scots. The trips were expensive and grueling, but also rewarding, as the colonies were havens for those unwelcome in the old country. That legacy did not die easily, though, and many were forced to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. The Scottish legacy has resurface in more recent times, though, through Clan societies, highland games, and other organizations. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the old Scottish name of Balbirnie:

Balbirnie Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Charles Balbirnie who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1827 and then moved westward

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  • James Balbirnie, American Republican politician, Mayor of Muskegon, Michigan; Elected 1899
  • Andrew Balbirnie (b. 1990), Irish right-handed batsman cricketer


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  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  3. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  4. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  5. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  6. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  7. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  8. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  9. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  10. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  11. ...

The Balbirnie Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Balbirnie 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 3 November 2015 at 11:30.

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