Friday, April 28, 2017


Me - Maurice Cumberland Paterson - Johnston Cumberland Paterson - Francis Paterson - Catherine Muirhead - George Muirhead - Christian Reid - her brother (Cumberland Reid)


What is in a name? In family history, a name can lead you on a journey. Since the Scottish like to bequeath their children with names of significance, I just knew there had to be a story in my dad's and grandfather's middle name, Cumberland. When researching this unique name, I've unearthed fascinating family members and a wee bit of Scottish history. 

My eureka moment was when I decide to approach my research by searching for the first name Cumberland in Scotland. Cumberland is not a common name. It always makes sense to find those unusual names. This search yielded me with some interesting results. The one that jumped out at me was "Cumberland Reid" born in 1746. It just happens that I have a fourth great grandmother, Christian Reid. She married a William Muirhead, and they named one of their sons (wait for it) Cumberland Muirhead, born in 1791. Now, this just couldn't be a coincidence. I located Cumberland Reid's will on the ScotlandsPeople's website and purchased it, with my fingers crossed. I love Cumberland Reid; he left a fantastic will.  Cumberland never married and was a man with wealth. In his will, Cumberland names brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, servants, and a housekeeper. A genealogist dream. Of course, he included his sister (Christian Reid), her husband (William Muirhead) and their two children, George and Sara. I assume poor little Cumberland Muirhead didn't survive.

Cumberland's will lead me to discover intriguing cousins, who bear the Cumberland name. I'm quite sure this is where my dad, Maurice Cumberland Paterson, and my grandfather, Johnston Cumberland Paterson,  got their middle name. Now how did my fourth great granduncle get a name like Cumberland? Cumberland Reid was the son of George Reid and Sarah Laurie, born August 28, 1746, in Ratho, Midlothian, Scotland, U.K.  When doing my search for the first name Cumberland, I thought it was quite odd that there were quite a few people born with the first or middle name Cumberland in 1746. The Cumberland name doesn't appear before 1746. Since reading a little Scottish history, I knew the battle of Culloden took place in April 1746. William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland was in command of the government forces against the Jacobite army. My theory is that the Duke of Cumberland had something to do with George Reid naming his son Cumberland in 1746. But could I ever find out why?

My answer came in the Linlithgowshire Gazette dated April 17, 1903, on the website Find My Past. Thanks to the old residenter, Mr. Thomas Scott, giving an account of the old folks in the area. Mr. Scott states that a Reid was a guide for the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden. The guide named his son Cumberland. Amazing! It all fits. My fifth great grandfather George Reid must have been the guide.

"Kirkliston and The Days O' Auld Lang Syne," Linlithgowshire Gazette, 17 April 1903, "Cumberland name"; online archives ( 29 March 2017); p 6 of 8.

I'm not sure how I feel about my family bearing the name Cumberland after the Duke of Cumberland. From what I have read, The Duke of Cumberland is known as the butcher for the deeds done after the battle. I would like to think my fifth great grandfather knew him as a different man.  But my dad and my grandfather would have been thrilled to know where the name came from and how I traced it back to an epic battle in Scottish history. It was a captivating journey. In genealogy, sometimes there is history in a name.

The Battle of Culloden, oil on canvas, David Morier, 1746.

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