Clan Blackadder

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Clan Blackadder
Motto Courage Helps Fortune
Region Scottish Lowlands
District Fife and Berwick-upon-Tweed
File:Arms of Blackadder of that Ilk.svg
Clan Blackadder has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
Historic seat Old Tulliallan Castle, Kincardine, Fife

Clan Blackadder is a Scottish clan. The clan historically held lands near the Anglo-Scottish border.

Clan status

Today Clan Blackadder does not have a chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, therefore the clan has no standing under Scots Law. Clan Blackadder is considered an armigerous clan, meaning that it is considered to have had at one time a chief who possessed the chiefly arms, however no one at present is in possession of such arms. The arms of Blackadder of that Ilk are blazoned as: Azure, on a chevron Argent three roses Gules.[1]


The clan name is a territorial name derived from the lands of Blackadder in Berwickshire. The lands, in turn, are named after the Blackadder Water, a river which is part of the River Tweed system, and which runs through the Scottish Borders. The name Blackadder is derived from the Old English awedur which means "running water" or "stream". George Fraser Black states that in 1426, Blakadir de Eodem (of that Ilk) held the lands in the earldom of March.[1] Early bearers of the surname are Adam of Blacathathir in 1477, Robert Blackader in the 15th century, and Charles Blakater in 1486.[2]

Eminence in 1450-1518

Fife branch

A junior branch moved to Tulliallan in Fife and included Robert Blackadder, bishop and then in 1492 the first Archbishop of Glasgow, who added the eponymous crypt and aisle in Glasgow Cathedral.[3][4] The archbishop died while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1508. The Fife branch were supporters of Clan Douglas. In 1471 the archbishop was also made Abbot of Melrose, not far from the main Blackadder lands.

Sir John Blackadder of Tullialan was made a baronet in 1626. The title was allowed to lapse with his death, although the celebrated covenanting preacher John Blackadder (1622-1685) was legally the heir. The preacher's son Colonel John Blackadder later became governor of Stirling Castle.[5]

Main branch

The Blackadders of that Ilk were Border Reivers, involved in the deadly raids and feuds along the Anglo–Scottish border during the 15th and 16th centuries. Their base by the Blackadder Water was near Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town that changed hands 13 times between England and Scotland in the period 1147-1482.

The family gained lands from James II of Scotland in reward for their deeds in repelling in English raids. In 1518 the family lost their Border lands by the forced marriages of the two heiresses of Robert Blackadder of that Ilk to the neighbouring Clan Home (pronounced "Hume"). This process became known as "the fraud of the Homes". According to the 19th century historian William Anderson the marriages were achieved in the following way.[1]

This process was challenged by a Blackadder kinsman, Sir John Blackadder who held the lands of Tulliallan. He attempted to gain assistance from the Parliament, and also attempted to use force to regain the former Blackadder possessions. In March 1531, he was beheaded for the murder of the Abbot of Culross, in the dispute. Sir John Blackadder was succeeded by his brother Patrick, who also took action to regain the lands from the Homes. Anderson's version of events has Patrick ambushed and murdered by the Homes, while he was attempting to meet them and resolve the dispute.

By 1567 the dispute had died down, as the Tulliallan branch and the Homes of Wedderburn were allies of Mary, Queen of Scots on the losing side in the important Battle of Carberry Hill. After the battle Mary abdicated as queen.[7]

Subsequently the Blackadders relinquished their claim to the Border lands, and in 1671 Sir John Home was created Baronet of Blackadder.[1] Some members of the clan continued to farm their lands as tenants of the Homes, and the last family burials at Edrom kirk were made in the 1980s.[8]

William Francis Blackadder played in the Scottish rugby team in 1938, and was awarded the DSO and OBE as an RAF ace in World War II.[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Blackadder". My Clan ( Archived from the original on 22 May 2006. Retrieved 24 December 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Reaney, Percy Hilde; Wilson, Richard Middlewood (2006). A Dictionary of English Surnames (3rd ed.). London: Routledge. p. 311. ISBN 0-203-99355-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Seal and brief history of Robert Blackadder
  5. "Rev. John Blackadder, Prisoner of the Bass". Notes and queries. Oxford University Press. 1883. p. 50.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Anderson, William (1877). The Scottish Nation. 1. London: A. Fullarton & co. p. 309.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. See: The Historie of James the Sext
  8. Archive of Erica Hunt, née Blackadder, at Edinburgh University Library
  9. William Francis Blackadder service notes in 1936-1951