Skene History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Skene surname is thought to be derived from the Aberdeenshire parish of the same name. Legend has it that the first bearer of the name was second son of Struan Robertson, who saved king Malcolm II (circa 1014) by slaying a wolf with his "sgian," or "skene," (Scottish dagger) in Stocket Forest. which meant "a dagger." It is said that he was rewarded with the lands of Skene and henceforth used the name Skene. [1]

"The Skenes obtained this name for killing a very big and fierce wolf, at a hunting in company with the king, in Stocket forest in Athole; having killed the wolf with a dagger or skene." [2]

"Some derive their names as well as their arms from some considerable action, and thus a son of Struan Robertson, for killing a wolf in Stocket forest in Athole, in the king's presence, with a dirk, received the name of Skene, which signifies a dirk, and three dirks points in pale, for his arms." [3]

Early Origins of the Skene family

The surname Skene was first found in Aberdeenshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Obar Dheathain), a historic county, and present day Council Area of Aberdeen, located in the Grampian region of northeastern Scotland, where they held a family seat sometime before the year 1250. The family had always maintained the rank of free Barons and held the Castle Skene, and the Earldom of Mar in Aberdeen.

The family is "of territorial origin from the lands of Skene, Aberdeenshire, erected into a barony in 1317 in favor of Robert de Skene. The first record of the name is in 1296 when Johan de Skene of the county of Edneburk and Johan de Skene of the county of Aberdene rendered homage [to King Edward I of England]. Probably, like many other old families, the Skenes were hereditary possessors of the church of Skene, a vicarage dependent upon the church of Kinkell, and toox their name from it. This supposition is rendered probable by the designation of Patrick as a cleric, and by the fact that in 1358 a Giliane de Skene is mentioned who is probably a descendant of the John de Skene who bore the head of John the Baptist on his seal." [4]

Early History of the Skene family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Skene research. Another 147 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1317, 1825, 1411, 1543, 1617 and 1597 are included under the topic Early Skene History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Skene Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Skene, Skeyne, Skeen, Skeene, Skin and many more.

Early Notables of the Skene family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Sir John Skene (1543-1617), who acquired Curriehill (taking the title Lord Curriehill); he was a much published lawyer in Scotland, who compiled...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Skene Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Skene migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Skene Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Skene who settled in West New Jersey in 1664
Skene Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Robert Skene, who was on record in Maryland in 1700
  • Robert Skene, who landed in Maryland in 1740 [5]
  • Thomas Skene, who arrived in South Carolina in 1760
  • David Skene, who settled in New York in 1765
Skene Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Johnston Chalmers Skene, who arrived in America in 1855 [5]

Canada Skene migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Skene Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Philip Skene U.E. from Skenesborough [Whitehall], New York, USA who returned to the United Kingdom c. 1780 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Skene (post 1700) +

  • Robert Skene (1914-1997), American polo player
  • Philip Skene (1725-1810), English Army officer and New York landowner, a figure in the Saratoga campaign of the American Revolution
  • James W. Skene, American founder of Skene, an American automobile manufactured from 1900 to 1901
  • Charles Robertson "Robert" Skene (1914-1997), American polo player, member of the United States Polo Hall of Fame
  • George A. Skene, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State House of Representatives from Lapeer County, 1960 [7]
  • Alexander Leslie Henderson Skene (1882-1959), Scottish footballer who played as a goalkeeper from 1901 to 1911
  • George Skene (1749-1825), Scottish soldier and politician
  • Clydesdale Duncan "Clyde" Skene (1884-1945), Scottish footballer who played in the Scottish League for Falkirk, Queen's Park and Dundee as a centre forward (1903-1915)
  • William Forbes Skene (1809-1892), Scottish historian and Celtic scholar who was appointed the Royal Historiographer for Scotland in 1881, and was the author of The Highlanders of Scotland, Celtic Scotland, and other celebrated works
  • James Skene (1775-1864), Scottish friend of Sir Walter Scott, second son of George Skene of Rubislaw, near Aberdeen, and his wife Jean Moir; his ancestor returning to Scotland with a fortune, bought the estate of Rubislaw
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Skene Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Virtutis regia merces
Motto Translation: A palace the reward of bravery.


  1. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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