Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thomsons / Thompsons and King Robert the Bruce


I like Robert the Bruce. For all sorts of reasons I'll not bother boring you with. So I was pleased a few weeks ago when a certain Mr Anderson was good enough to scan a page from The book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell, which he blogged about here.The Thompson/Thomson entry reads -

'...The name Thomson is among the first five in Scotland and in the Lowlands was of the same derivation as in England – 'son of Thom'. It was first recorded in 1318 when John Thomson, 'a man of low birth, but approved valour', was commander of the men of Carrick (in Ayrshire) in Edward Bruce's invasion of Ireland...'

The Bruces also came from Carrick - Turnberry to be precise, where their castle was on the site of today's famous golf course. So I did some checking and it was this same John Thomson who led the Bruce retreat from Ireland in 1318.

In the prolific Rev Thomas Thomson's A History of the Scottish People from the Earliest Times (1895) p 252 it says

'...the handful of Scots who survived the defeat were rallied by John Thomson, the leader of the men of Carrick; and having extricated them from the throng he effected a dangerous retreat to Carrickfergus, where they embarked for Scotland...'

I'm sure if I look at Barbour and other early texts I'll find the same Thomson. Our family tradition is that our Thompsons also came from Ayrshire, between Kilmarnock and Troon. The paper records we know of only go back to the mid 1700s, and even that early there was a Thompson family living in the townland where we still live today. I have no idea if I am descended from this much earlier Ayrshire John Thomson, and I expect there's no way to be sure.

But while there's doubt there's always hope - I'm glad he was a Bruce man and came to Ulster with them.


Alan said...

Are you sure he didn't build a feed mill on York Rd. before he retreated back to Scotland? ;)

Mark Thompson said...

That explains everything!