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


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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The surname Tams was 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]

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.


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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 United States in the 19th Century


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

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


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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. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  5. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  6. 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).
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. 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.
  9. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  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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