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Origin of Name


As this surname is common throughout the British Isles, Scottish ancestry should not be presumed without additional evidence. Furthermore, as Black appears in many inextricably confused forms (Blacke, Blackie, Blaik, and Blake, etc.), the current spelling is often no guide to the proper pronunciation past or present, for in early Scots Latin charters the name even appears as "Niger". In the Highlands, Black is synonymous with the patronymics Macilduy, Macildowie, or MacGilledow, all of which derive from the Gaelic "Mac Gille dhuibh" (son of the black lad), and it is these Blacks who have been particularly associated with the Lamonts, MacGregors, and MacLeans. When the Lamonts and MacGregors became "broken" clans, both were forced to conceal their identity and many chose the names Black and Macilduy. The novelist, William Black, traced his descent from a branch of Clan Lamont who were driven from their home-lands under a leader called the "Black Priest". The exiles settled in Carnwath, Lanarkshire, and were later noted covenanters. Another lineage of Blacks were descended from the Blacks of Garvie, in Glendaruel, Argyll, where the head of this family was known as "Mac-'Ille-Dhuibh-mor-na-Garbha". The Macleans of Duart claim as septs only those Blacks/Macilduys who lived on the island of Gometra off the coast of Mull, from where many later moved to the Isle of Lismore. Members of the old family of Black of Wateridgemuir, Logie-Buchan, have been Burgesses of Aberdeen for almost 500 years. Amongst those whose scholarship has enhanced the study of the Scottish heritage we must include George Fraser Black, whose monumental work "The Surnames of Scotland" (pub.1946) has become the standard reference. Born in Stirlingshire, George later emigrated to the United States where he took a post as a librarian in the New York Public Library. His catalogue of Scottish works held therein may also be considered a masterpiece in librarianship. Clan affiliation will be determined by evidence of one's ancestral genealogical or geographical associations. There is no Black Tartan but because of the strong connections with the Lamont Clan the Lamont Tartan is recommended.

Names associated with this clan