Biggar History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Biggar family may have been Viking settlers. Their surname comes from a place name of Norse origins, from when they lived in east Lanarkshire, in a place probably named from the Old Norse words "bygg," meaning "barley," and "geiri," denoting a triangular plot of land.

Early Origins of the Biggar family

The surname Biggar was first found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland at Biggar, a parish and market-town, on the road from Dumfries to Edinburgh.

"The original name of this place, as it occurs in several ancient charters, is generally written Biger, or Bigre, and is supposed to have been derived from the nature of the ground on which the castle of the family of Biggar was situated (in the centre of a soft morass), and to have been thence applied to the whole of the parish; and from the same circumstance, the castle assumed the name of Boghall. The manor was granted by David I. to Baldwin, a Flemish leader, whose descendants still retain the surname of Fleming; they appear to claim a very remote antiquity, and the name of Baldwin de Biger appears in testimony to a charter, prior to the year 1160." [1]

"Baldwin de Bigir, who appears as sheriff of Lanark in the reign of Malcolm IV is the first known to bear the territorial designation. Between 1147-1160 Balwinus de Digir (Bigir) witnessed the grant by Arnold, Abbot of Kelso, of the lands of Douglas to Theobaldus Flamaticus. Sometime after 1170 Baldwin de Bigre, sheriff of Lanark, granted the church of Innyrkvp beyond the Moors (ultra mores) to the monks of Paisley. Waldeve, Baldwin's son, was taken prisoner at Alnwick along with King William the Lion in 1174. In 1228 Hugh the son of Robert de Bygris appears in a grant to St. Machute of Lesmahagow, in which he is styled Hugo de Bygris films Roberti filii Waldevi de Bigris." [2]

To the south in England, one of the first records of the family was "Nicholas de Bichar" who witnesses a charter of William de Granavilla to Gateshead: and was, without doubt, the same Nicholas, mentioned in the Rot. Cur. Northumbriae, who was Lord of Byker, near Newcastle, in the reign of Henry III. This manor was anciently held in grand serjeancy, by carrying the King's writ between the rivers Tyne and Coquet, and making distresses of goods for the King's debts.- Hutchinson's Northumberland.

The family continued there till 1346. Richard de Bicker was summoned to attend the great Council at Westminster in 1324.- Palgrave's Parl. Writs.

"The name is found at a rather earlier date in Lincolnshire, where Gerard de Bikere occurs in the Rotul. Cancellarii of 1202, and was presumably the owner of Bicker, 'a very ancient and pleasant village, nine miles from Folkingham.' " [3]

Early History of the Biggar family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Biggar research. Another 248 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1153, 1153, 1160, 1174, 1292, 1329, 1329, 1433, 1621, 1614, 1912, 1912, 1368, 1664, 1878, 1863, 1927, 1828, and are included under the topic Early Biggar History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Biggar Spelling Variations

Standards against which to judge the accuracy of spellings and translations did not yet exist in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations in names dating from that era, are thus, an extremely common occurrence. Biggar has been recorded as Biggar, Bigare, Bigger, Bigir, Bygar, McGivern, Bigger and many more.

Early Notables of the Biggar family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Biggar Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Biggar family to Ireland

Some of the Biggar family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 221 words (16 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Biggar migration to the United States +

The New World was far from the oppressive regime of the old country. It was a place where there was more land than people and political and religious freedom were far easier to come by. Many Scots even got the chance to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. In recent years, interest in this heritage has been generated by Clan societies and regular highland games in North America. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the Biggar name:

Biggar Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George D Biggar, who arrived in Mississippi in 1837 [4]

New Zealand Biggar migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Biggar Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Biggar, Scottish settler from Arbroath travelling from Leith aboard the ship 'Melbourne' arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 18th March 1861 [5]
  • Mrs. Biggar, Scottish settler from Arbroath travelling from Leith with 3 sons and daughter aboard the ship 'Melbourne' arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 18th March 1861 [5]
  • Miss Biggar, Scottish settler from Arbroath travelling from Leith aboard the ship 'Melbourne' arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 18th March 1861 [5]
  • Mr. William Biggar, (b. 1841), aged 21, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Edward Thornhill" arriving in Nelson, South Island, New Zealand in 1862 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Biggar (post 1700) +

  • John Biggar, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Texas 10th District, 1980 [6]
  • James B. Biggar, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 20th District, 1947-52
  • J. Lyon Biggar, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Belleville, 1884
  • Nigel John Biggar (b. 1955), Scottish Anglican priest and theologian, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford since 2007
  • John McLaren Biggar (1874-1943), Scottish politician, Lord Provost of Glasgow (1941-1943)
  • Helen Biggar (1909-1953), Scottish sculptor, filmmaker and theatre designer from Glasgow
  • Alexander Biggar, Scottish professional footballer who played as an outside left in 1913
  • Oliver Mowat Biggar CMG, KC (1876-1948), Canadian lawyer and civil servant, 1st and 2nd Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (1920-1927) and (1918-1920)
  • Murray Clement Biggar, Canadian politician, Mayor of Sudbury, Ontario in 1895
  • Michael Andrew "Mike" Biggar (b. 1949), English former rugby union player for London Scottish F.C
  • ... (Another 12 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, March 17) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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