Clan Heron

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Motto Par Valeur, meaning By Bravery in Latin
Region Borders
District Galloway, Northumberland
Pipe music Here is the Glen
Heron has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
Historic seat Heron, Kirkcudbrightshire

The Clan Heron was one of the lesser Border riding Clans, fierce people who practised raiding and cattle rustling along the Anglo-Scottish border. [1]

Origins of the Clan

The Clan claims descent from the Herons of Chipchase Castle in Northumberland, in The English Middle-march. In a survey made of the Border in 1522, it was reported that: "Chipchase was the most convenient house for the keeper of Tynedale" and the Herons were descried as "A hot tempered race, regularly in trouble with the authorities".[2] It is also known that they had a feud with the Clan Tate and Clan Kerr. Many Herons were transported to Ireland during the Ulster Plantation, and therefore contributed to the birth of the Ulster-Scots (or Scots-Irish) people.

The name Heron probably originated from the name "de Hairun" or the name "de Harum" and was also used as a nickname for people of a tall, thin stature and the name can be of either Anglo-Saxon or Norman origin.


The Herons held many positions of power on the borders. In the 13th Century, William Heron was the keeper of Bamburgh Castle in 1248, the keeper of Scarborough Castle in 1255 and the Sheriff of Northumberland between 1246 and 1247. Chipchase Castle in the English Middle-march was held by the Heron family for almost 300 years and the Herons also owned Ford Castle in Northumberland. They were a recorded reiving family in both England and Scotland. Walter Heron was the clerk to William the Lion. Roger Heron was a charter witness in 1321 in Langton, Berwick and Thomas Heron was a witness to a demise in Langton in 1329. In 1300, Gerald Heron fought on the side of Robert the Bruce, and he was rewarded the rich lands of Kirroughtree where a branch of the clan resided for 400 years. The clan was in possession of Kirroughtree until 1847, when the last heir sold Kirroughtree to a Major Armitage. It was sold by the Armitage family in 1952 and became a hotel.

A border lord, Sir Gerard Heron, put one thousand men in the saddle to attack William Wallace after he captured Kinclaven Castle.[3]

Like other Border families, many Herons were transported to The Ulster plantation during James's "pacification" of the Borders.


  1. The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell
  2. Information on the Herons of Chipchase
  3. Life of Sir William Wallace of Elderslie by John D. Carrick