Centre for Lifelong LearningDeclaration of Arbroath

The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project

The University of Strathclyde Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme launched the Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project in association with the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy in October 2018. King Robert’s mission, to gain recognition for Scotland as an independent nation, particularly from England, following the Scottish War of Independence, led to the creation of a letter to the Pope in 1320, which has become known as the Declaration of Arbroath. The letter was sent on behalf of the nobles and barons of Scotland, many of whom were named in and attached their seals to the document. The new Project will see both students and staff carry out research into these individuals and their families, culminating in an exhibition which it is hoped will tour several venues. It will also involve a genetic genealogy strand, to discover previously unknown descents from these individuals through DNA testing. 

The project will consist of two strands, a documentary strand and a genetic genealogy strand. Further information relating to the project can be found in the information sections below. 

Documentary strand

Documentary strand

This will be based largely on PG Diploma student work in researching specific individuals who are named or set their seals to the Declaration of Arbroath, accumulated over two years – academic sessions 2018-19 and 2019-20 and would consist of the following:

  • brief biographies of the individuals presented as narrative biographies of a maximum of 300 words.
  • 4 generation descendant charts and reports beginning with the individuals’ grandparents and including as many of the grandparents’ descendants as can be traced to the third generation.
  • images and blazons of the individuals’ coats of arms.
Genetic genealogy strand

Genetic genealogy strand

This will be based largely on staff research with some student involvement and will consist of the following:

genetic genealogy research into the families of significance in relation to the Declaration of Arbroath to –

  • discover previously unknown descents from these families through DNA matching with individuals with documented descents and
  • to advance the knowledge of genetic branching within these families
  • to investigate the origins of these families
Progress Reports

Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project

Progress report 9, 24 April 2020

Project webpage https://www.strath.ac.uk/studywithus/centreforlifelonglearning/genealogy/declarationofarbroathresearch/

Documentary strand

As reported previously, at least one set of research findings on all 48 individuals associated with the Declaration have now been submitted by Diploma students – 40 as part of this Project, in addition to findings on another 8 who had previously been researched as part of the Battle of Bannockburn Family History Project. All research findings from Diploma students which will form the basis for the Project exhibition have now been submitted. The findings consist of brief biographies, four generation genealogies showing descendants of the grandparents of the focus individual and details of coats of arms. The list of their names can be found on the Strathclyde genealogy website at http://www.strathgenealogy.org.uk/declaration-of-arbroath/

Genetic genealogy strand

Student work detailing male line descendants for up to 10 generations of 16 of the individuals will help to inform further staff work in the genetic genealogy strand of the Project. The first phase of this strand involved the gathering of DNA test results from well documented male line descendants of some of those who were associated with the Declaration. This strand has now entered the second phase, focusing on analysis of test results and identifying matches with individuals who do not have documentary evidence of their medieval descents. A number of these have now been identified as descendants of ‘signatories’ of the Declaration and research is proceeding to expand this number and explore further the branching of the focus families. One important conclusion has been the identification of genetic markers carried by the noble family of Boyd. This means that Boyds taking a Y-DNA test will be able to discover whether they are descended from this family of Boyds, first recorded in the 13th century. Conclusions have also been reached on the Dunbar, Seton and Stewart families.  

49 relevant DNA test results are now included in the Project and the major focus is on the following families –

Boyd (including descent from Hay)

Dunbar
Lindsay
Maxwell
Seton
Sinclair
Stewart

Sutherland

If feasible, further research on other families may be carried out, such as the families of Campbell, Ross and Umfraville.

Contact has been made with a number of DNA projects and we have been working with these as the research progresses.

Exhibition

A list of the 16 individuals to be featured in the Project exhibition has been compiled. The exhibition will display biographies, genealogical charts and coats of arms of these individuals, as well as presenting documentation on all 48 of the individuals associated with the Declaration and details on the genetic genealogy research carried out.

The preparation of materials for the documentary strand of the Exhibition is nearing completion, while work on refining conclusions in the genetic genealogy strand is progressing.

The Project Exhibition will be held initially at Arbroath Abbey from 3 July to 14 August 2020 and also presented at Dumfries Museum from 12 September to 31 October.

The list of the 16 individuals to be featured in the Exhibition is as follows –

King Robert I (the Bruce)

Campbell, Donald

Douglas, James, Lord of

Graham, David

Hay, Gilbert, Constable of Scotland

Lindsay, David

Maxwell, Eustace

Menteith, Sir John

Mowbray, Roger

Randolph, Thomas, Earl of Moray

Seton, Alexander

Sinclair, Henry

Soules, William, Butler of Scotland

Stewart, Walter, High Steward of Scotland

Sutherland, William, Earl of

Umfraville, Ingram

 

Contacts with the following DNA projects

Boyd DNA Project
Campbell DNA Project
Dunbar DNA Project
Lennox, MacFarlane, Leckie DNA Project
Lindsay DNA Project
R-U198 DNA Project
Seaton/Seton DNA Project
Sinclair DNA Project
Stewart DNA Project
Sutherland DNA Project

Contacts with other organisations

Arbroath 2020

Historic Environment Scotland

  • consultative role on some interpretative materials for Arbroath Abbey
  • provision of input to educational materials for use initially in Arbroath Academy and provisionally to be made available online for other schools

HMP Low Moss, Bishopbriggs

Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust

National Trust for Scotland

Victoria University of Wellington NZ Scottish Interest Group

Other outputs

Articles by Graham Holton and Alasdair Macdonald:

History Scotland, November/December 2019 issue

History Scotland, July/August 2020 issue (forthcoming)

A number of other articles are planned.

Presentations by Graham Holton and Alasdair Macdonald:

  • Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust symposium on the Declaration of Arbroath, 28 March 2020, Dumfries
    The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project: 14th century men and 21st century descendants
    CANCELLED
  • Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Conference, 23-25 April 2020, Newbattle Abbey College - 24 April, 4 pm.
    The men of the Declaration – their significance, then and now
    CANCELLED
    Rescheduled for 22-24 April 2021
  • House of Dun, Montrose (National Trust for Scotland), 2 July, 6.30 pm
    The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project: local surnames 1320 to 2020
  • Victoria University of Wellington NZ Scottish Interest Group, 28 August 2020
    Recording of general talk on the Project to be supplied
  • Dumfries Museum, 10 September 2020, 6.30 pm
    Pre-exhibition presentation
  • HMP Low Moss, Bishopbriggs. To be confirmed
    Talk on DNA testing as it relates to the Declaration and its relevance today

Impact of Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic

Events have already been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, but it is hoped that the Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust will be able to reschedule their symposium at some future date.
The Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Conference will be held on 22-24 April 2021.

Due to the uncertainties surrounding the ongoing measures to meet the challenge of Covid-19, the other planned physical events are subject to change.

  

Previous progress reports can be downloaded and viewed via the links below;

Progress report 8, 21 February 2020

Progress report 7, 20 December 2019

Progress report 6,17 October 2019

Progress report 5, 16 August 2019

Progress report 4, 27 June 2019

Progress report 3, 23 April 2019

Progress report 2, 5 February 2019

Progress report 1, 3 December 2018

 

Exhibition and Talks

 

Forthcoming Talks

Presentations by Graham Holton and Alasdair Macdonald:

  • Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust symposium on the Declaration of Arbroath, 28 March 2020, Dumfries
    The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project: 14th century men and 21st century descendants
    CANCELLED
  • Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Conference, 23-25 April 2020, Newbattle Abbey College - 24 April, 4 pm.
    The men of the Declaration – their significance, then and now
    CANCELLED
    Rescheduled for 22-24 April 2021
  • House of Dun, Montrose (National Trust for Scotland), 2 July, 6.30 pm
    The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project: local surnames 1320 to 2020
  • Victoria University of Wellington NZ Scottish Interest Group, 28 August 2020
    Recording of general talk on the Project to be supplied
  • Dumfries Museum, 10 September 2020, 6.30 pm
    Pre-exhibition presentation
  • HMP Low Moss, Bishopbriggs. To be confirmed
    Talk on DNA testing as it relates to the Declaration and its relevance today

Impact of Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic

Events have already been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, but it is hoped that the Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust will be able to reschedule their symposium at some future date.
The Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Conference will be held on 22-24 April 2021.

Due to the uncertainties surrounding the ongoing measures to meet the challenge of Covid-19, the other planned physical events are subject to change.

Press Coverage