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A Short History of the Waddells of Scotland
Gavin Main Waddell, updated February 2009


The Waddells of Scotland take their name from Wedale, the old name for the parish of Stow in Midlothian. The Stow of Wedale was the private domain of the Archbishop of Saint Andrews, the Primate of Scotland, who from an early date had his summer palace there.

Medieval references

The early bearers of the name were either Norman or Celts who had taken on Norman customs – or more probably, taking into account modern heraldic scholarship, Flemish[1].  Those who were recorded were for the most part eminent churchmen and we know their names from the charters that they signed – Gilis de Wedala, circa 1175[2], Adam de Wedale, 1204[3], Thomas de Wedale was canon of St. Andrews, 1280[4], Laurence de Wedale rendered homage to Edward I of England and signed the “ragman’s-roll”, the roll in which the Scottish nobility and gentry subscribed allegiance to Edward I in 1296[5], Simon de Wedale, Abbot of Holyrood, Edinburgh and later  Bishop of Galloway, 1296-1355[6], Roger de Wedale Canon of Dunblane, 1312-1321, Sir Thomas de Wedalle, Knight of Scotland, circa 1372[7], Henry de Wedale, ‘the Duke of Albany’s man’, 1401, James of Wedale, the King’s Macer, 1403, Sir Robert of Wedale, Master of Works at Linlithgow Palace later Abbot of Culross and famous schismatic, 1424-41, Agnes de Wedale, Prioress of Manuel, 1442, John Weddell, (called de Weddale Vedal, Weddell and Waddell at different points in his career) the Parson of Flisk, and one of the first Lords of Session, 1508-40 and as Lord Flisk was rector of St. Andrews University and one of the judges at the trial of Patrick Hamilton[8]. (See Chapter III, Medieval Waddells.)
A branch of the family continued to live at Stow until well into the middle of the eighteenth century and other branches were in nearby Lauderdale – a few miles to the east, in Chrichton - a few miles to the north and in Roxburgh - a few miles to the south. James de Weddale, the Laird of Blythe 1493[9] was from Lauderdale, Major Archibald Waddell of Turnidykes 1623 was from Chrichton and Alexander Weddell of Little Newton 1598 was from Roxburgshire. These were respectively the representatives of these branches.
The Balquhatstone, Stanrigg,[10] Airdriehill and Easter Moffat branches
An important branch, probably the senior, settled in the lands of Balquhatstone in Slamannan, Stirlingshhire between 1470 and 1536, the first charter to the Waddells of Balquhatstone was granted by King James V to George Weddell and his wife Jonet [sic] Russell in November 1536 and recorded in the Register of the Great Seal[11] although it has been suggested that the lands had been granted previously to James the father of George by King James IV before 1513. This branch seems to be the immediate progenitor of the New Monkland Waddells.  New Monkland in Lanarkshire, is the parish where the town of Airdrie is situated, about four miles West of Slamannan and where the name in the 19th and early 20th century was most prevalent.  The Stanrigg,[12] Airdriehill,[13] in New Monkland parish, and Easter Moffat[14] in adjoining Shotts parish, branches are directly descended from Balquhatstone  and the Magiscrofft, Ryden and Gain branches, also in parish of New Monkland probably spring from the same  root. Other Lanrkshire Waddells that were farmers in Lesmahagow can trace their ancestry back to the 16th century.
Waddells of Holehouseburn
Nearby Whitburn (West Lothian) was the  home of the Waddells of Holehouseburn from the early 17th century onwards and probably descend from Adam Weddell who was granted the lands of Wilkoksholme in Linlithgowshire[15] by Mary Queen of Scots in 1551[16] and from whom sprang the Crofthead, Leadloch, Stoneyburn and Stockbriggs branches. In his forward to A Christian Life (an account of his Covenanting experiences) James Waddel of Holehouseburn, born in 1660, spells out his lineage and describes his immediate family members.
The Abbotshall Waddells 
Some Waddells in Fife also claim to descend from the Holehouseburn family, although there was a large family living in Dunfermline  in the very early 17th century,  a family with even earlier antecedents in Earlsferry and a well known family of boat builders operated for many generations in Anstruther.[17] The Abbotshall Waddells whatever their antecedents  were well settled in Fife by the late18th century.
Weddell  of Halylands
A Patrick Weddell first mentioned in the Great Seal in 1561 and another Patrick again in 1586, probably  father and son, were occupiers of the lands of Halylands and Westir Heycheme in Fofarshire (now Angus).[18] These may be the forbears of several generations of Waddells in Forfarshire – there were still Waddells in Blairgowrie and Coupar Angus in the 19th  century.
Irish branches
The Irish Waddells of Islanderry, Lesnasure and Ballemonoch descend from the Waddells in Moffathills (next door to Easter Moffat in Shotts) who settled in County Down in Northern Ireland in the early 17th century[19].  The Waddells of Ballygowan and Ouley, of which the famous novelist and medieval scholar, Helen Waddell, was a member, descend from William Waddell (son or brother of John Waddell of Ryden, the Covenanting Martyr) who was banished in 1679 ‘to the plantations in’ North America on the ill fated slave ship, The Crown of London, wrecked off Orkney. He survived and and fled to Ireland and founded a family[20] there (a more detailed account of this will be found at the end of this chapter). Thus all Irish Waddell come from within a few miles of each other in the Airdrie, New Monkland or Shotts area in Lanarkshire.  From the Islanderry Waddells descend the American families of Moses, General Hugh, John Newton, Alfred Moore and Captain James Iredell Waddell and from the Ballygowan and Ouley Waddells, James ‘The Blind Preacher of Tinkling Springs’ of Augusta County, Virginia. 
English branches 

A number of Scots migrated to England in the 15th century and obtained letters of denization[21], including many impoverished clerics from the Borders, to take up trades in cities like York.

TheWeddells of Clifton and Earswick, merchants of York and later of Newby Hall, must have come from Scotland at the end of the 15th century to make their fortune and certainly succeeded – William Weddell of Newby Hall had one of the finest collections of classical sculpture of the time and commissioned Robert Adam to extend Newby Hall to house this collection[22]. His kinsman Thomas Phillip Weddell-Robinson, Lord Grantham later Marquess of Ripon in 1786 ‘by kind permission of his Majesty’ took the name of Weddell, presumably to safeguard this fortune.[23] From another branch of this family came John Weddell of Bradford who became Treasurer to Lincoln’s Inn in November 1702 and was instrumental in placing the armorial bearings of the Treasurers in the east window of the Lincoln‘s Inn chapel where his own arms can still be seen today. The Weddalls of Barlby and Selby also descend from the same York merchants.

Notable Waddell characters and families

Admiral John Weddell      
Admiral John Weddell although designated of Stebenheath (modern Stepney) and sometimes of Radcliffe, London, was reputedly born in Edinburgh in 1583.[24]  His exploits for the embryonic East India Company at the beginning of the 17th century and his later encounters with the Chinese at Macao assured him a place in the history of the British Empire[25] [26] – a stormy career promoted by the Duke of Buckingham and William Courteen ended in ruin, he died in India in 1642, his wife Frances’s will can still be read in the London Record Office.  The American family of Waddell-Smith claim descent from him. 
Captain John Waddell

‘The liveliest and least inhibited of the 18th century memoirists’, William Hickey, was much taken by the character and feats of Captain John Waddell of the East India Company ship the Plassey.[27] Captain Waddell was probably born in Stow, in Midlothian, Scotland in 1731. He had a house in Golden Square London and died aged forty in the Parish of St. James, London. Many members of the Plassey’s crew, that Hickey describes so clearly in his book, appear in John’s will dated 1771.

The Weddell Sea

The Weddell Sea is named after James Weddell 1787-1834 the famous Antarctic explorer who, although born in Ostend, was the son of a Lanarkshire man.[28] A brilliant navigator his voyages to the South Atlantic and the Antarctic penetrated 214 miles further south than Captain Cook and are recorded in his fascinating memoirs and comprehensive charts.

The Scottish Divine
Peter Hately Waddell 1817-1891, the celebrated Scottish Divine, was born at Balquhatstone House on May 9th 1817.[29]  His translation of the Psalms from ‘Hebrew intil Scotis’, a classic in its day, has recently been republished.
Glasgow merchants
Glasgow merchant and, stock-broking families descend from the Ryden, Magiscroft and Stanrigg branches of Airdrie and New Monkland. Alexander Waddell of Stonefield who owned a small estate and mansion house in the middle of the Gorbals, opposite Glasgow Green, was from the Ryden branch of the family and was well known as a local philanthropist. 
Waddell and McIntosh
The  firm of Edinburgh lawyers, Waddell and McIntosh later Waddell, McIntosh, Peddie and Ivory, was founded by the brothers George Waddell of Balquhatstone W.S.[30] and William Waddell of Easter Moffat W.S.
Robert Waddell of Crawhill
The New York Journal of January 1st 1771 announced the death  “leaving a disconsolate widow” of a military Captain [William] Waddell of the 57th Regiment who was stationed in New York in 1770.  Not only was he not dead, he was a bachelor  -  no deaths were reported in the New York Journal for many months thereafter[31].  In fact he died in Jermyn St. London on August 7 1791 the last of the Crawhill line.  His elder brother Robert Waddell of Crawhill, Linlithgowshire was Principal Clerk of Bills to the Court of Session, Edinburgh a post he held jointly with Sir Robert Anstruther.   Robert and Captain Waddell were the sons of Robert Waddell of Muirhouse of the Lauderdale branch and Mary Broun of Colstoun.[32]
John Waddell of Inch, the celebrated engineer 
John Waddell of Inch the celebrated engineer whose achievements included Putney Bridge, The Mersey Tunnel and railways all over Britain was the son of George Waddell of Gain Farm, New Monkland.[33] He founded a dynasty of engineers who continued and extended his work for several generations.
Captain Waddell, the Laird of Langsyde
Captain Waddell, the Laird of Langsyde, friend and commander of Lord Somerville at the siege of Edinburgh 1640 probably came from the Turnidykes or Crichton branch. [34]  Major Archibald also of Turnidykes  was joint proprietor of the lands of Wakefield, West Linton with his brother-in-law Alexander Douglas of Mains through his wife Isobel Douglas of Mains.[35]
Burgess families of Dundee, Edinburgh and Jedburgh
There were burgess families of Edinburgh and Jedburgh of the name and a family of brewers were in Liff near Dundee for several generations.[36]  The Jedburgh family had East India Company connections as Henry Waddell of Jedburgh had a son George who must have made a fortune in India as a Commissary-General in the Bombay army later acquiring the properties of Hope End in Herefordshire, Walmer in Kent, Chobham Park in Surrey  and also a Scottish house in Aberdeenshire. The Waddells of Otterburn Mill, famous for their tweeds and supplying Queen Victoria with tartan rugs, seem to be related to this family.
The Rev. Waddell-Dudley assumed the name of Dudley by royal licence  in 1878 as the great grandson on his mother’s side of Thomas Dudley of Stafford, a direct descendant of the natural son of Edmund Dudley the advisor of Henry VII and father of the notorious Duke of Northumberland the Protector of England in the reign of Edward VI and grandfather of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.[37] The Reverend William Waddell descended on his father’s side from Thomas Waddell, oil merchant and colourman, of St. Giles Street, London who probably emigrated from Scotland in the mid 18th century. His sons, John and William, made their fortune as proprietors of the ‘Tally Ho’ coaches which ran between London and Birmingham.
Dr. Richard Waddell, Archdeacon of St. Andrews
There were Waddells on both sides of the religious conflicts that beset Scotland in 17th century. Dr. Richard Waddell, born 1630, minister of Glasgow Cathedral and Rector of both Glasgow and St. Andrews Universities and later Archdeacon of St. Andrews, found himself on the wrong side and was deprived of his post by the Committee of Estates on 11th May1689 for not reading and obeying their proclamation. He was banished from St. Andrews in 1691 but returned under the Queen’s indemnity only to be ordered out again in 1703.  He was the son of Adam Waddell in Seaton, East Lothian[38] and married Agnes Home probably of the Wedderburn branch. His son Adam, Minister of Whitsome, was the great friend of George Home of Kimmerghame and is often referred to in his recently re-discovered diaries.[39] Dr. Richard seems to have managed the exiled Earl of Winton’s estates until his death in Edinburgh on 11th June 1718.[40]
The Covenanting martyr, John Waddell of Ryden
The covenanting martyr, John Waddell of Ryden, New Monkland, was hung at Magus Moor near St. Andrews in Fife on 25th November 1679 for his alleged part in the murder of Archbishop Sharp(1613 –1679). His only crime was that he was captured at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge and refused to deny the Covenant.[41]  His dying speech is recorded in the ‘Napthali’. His son or brother, William, was banished for seven years to the plantations in Virginia. He was luckier, however, than other New Monkland Waddells, including  close relatives, James Waddell and William Miller, captured at Bothwell Bridge who were sentenced to be deported as slaves  only to be drowned when the ship carrying them to  ‘the plantations in the New World’[42] was wrecked off the Orkney Islands. William survived the wreck and founded the Irish, Ballygowan or Ouley  Waddells.

Gavin Main Waddell, updated February 2009

[1] Origins of Heraldry, Beryl Platts, Procter Press

[2] Munimenta de Melros, 51 & 52

[3] Bain 1, p 324

[4] Papal letters 1, p 462

[5] Bain 11, p 210, 555

[6] Dowden, p361

[7] Bain IV, p 102

[8] Historical Account of the Senators of the College of Justice by John Brunton. Edinburgh 1832

[9] This is the date that he is mentioned in Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials. See Chapter III Medieval Waddells.

[10] Sometimes Stanrigg and sometimes Standrigg or Standridge.

[11] The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, Vol. III, 2172, 2237.

[12] Lanark Register of Sasines, 1618-1720.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] The old name for West Lothian.

[16] The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, Vol. IV, 656.

[17] Anstruther, A History, Stephanie Stevenson, Edinburgh 1989.

[18] Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, Vol.VI 1413 & Vol. V 1044.

[19] Lanark Register of Sasines, 1618-1720.

[20] Cloud of Witnesses, by Rev. John H Thomson, Edinburgh 1871.

[21] Denization was the granting of the protection of the Crown to an alien living in the kingdom. similar to

present day naturalisation.

[22] Familiae Minorum Gentium, Harleian Soc. Visitations, MS. 596 p. 1259.

[23] Burke’s Peerage, Vol. II p. 1851-2.

[24] Dictionary of National Biography p. 1042.

[25] The Honourable Company, John Keay, Harper Collins, 1991.

[26] Macao and the British, Austin Coates, Oxford University Press, 1988.

[27] Memoirs of William Hickey, Ed. Peter Quennell, Purnell Book Services Ltd. 1975, London.

[28] Dictionary of National Biography, p. 1040.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Writer to the Signet; originally, the Signet was the private seal of the early Scottish Kings, and Writers to the Signet were those authorised to supervise its use and later, to act as clerks to the Courts. The earliest recorded use of the Signet was in 1369, and Writers to the Signet were included as members of the College of Justice when it was established in 1532, but the Society did not take definite shape until 1594, when the King's Secretary, as keeper of the Signet, granted Commissions to a Deputy keeper and eighteen other writers.

[31] Biographical Register, Saint Andrew’s Society, pp. 141&142.

[32] Burke’s Peerage 1921 Edition Vol. I, p. 355.

[33] New Monkland Parish, John Macarthur, Glasgow 1890.

[34] Memory of the Somervilles: Being a History of the Baronial House of Somerville (1815) by James Somerville.

[35] Parish of West Linton, History of Peebleshire, pp. 157-8.

[36] The Surnames of Scotland, George F. Black, New York 1946.

[37] Walford County Families.

[38] Register of Deeds 1664

[39] An Album of Scottish Families 1694-96,Helen and Keith Kelsall, Aberdeen University Press 1990

[40] Gentleman’s Magazine

[41] Cloud of Witnesses by Rev. John H Thomson, Edinburgh 1871

[42] The History of the Parish of New Monkland by John Macarthur.

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