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The Dunlop family come from a Scottish clan which originated in the village of Dunlop in Ayrshire, south west of Glasgow and north east of Kilmarnock. The name, Dunlop, comes from the Gaelic Dun-Laib meaning ‘Fort of the bend’ and describes the ancient hill fort that is encircled by an arm of the Glazert Burn, which also circles the village of Dunlop. My research suggests that the clan has its origins in pre Roman times and that the original inhabitants of the area now known as Dunlop, were tribal British of the Novantae. In those days of course the name of Dunlop was not in existence, neither for the settlement nor the inhabitants. The hill, from which the name derives, was there and being a high point in a fairly flat plain it would have been a logical place to build the fort as it was easy to defend from potential danger. Over the centuries the British inhabitants were attacked and or allied with Celts, Gaels, Picts, Scotti, Saxons and Vikings. It is fair to assume therefore that the genetic pool of Dunlop would contain elements of all these interlopers as well as the early British. However the predominant mix in the area up until the arrival of the Normans would have been British, Celtic and Gaelic. There are legends which tell of a Celtic Chief who ruled in pre Roman times who called himself Dunlop of Dunlop (See History of Dunlop Name by Mike Dunlop, Clan Dunlop website). However the first recorded use of the name of Dunlop is in the 13th century, when a document was witnessed by Dom. Willemus de Dunlop in 1260. Dunlops were displaced by the feudal system introduced by King Malcolm, who annexed the Kingdom of Strathclyde. His successor, King David, granted Cunninghame, the area in which Dunlop lies, to De Moreville. His vassal, Dom Godfrey de Ross, was given the fortress on Dunlop hill. The then current Dunlop of Dunlop was appointed Huntsman and given land where he built ‘Huntshall’ the seat of the Dunlop Clan (Some of this information should be attributed to the Dunlop clan website). It would be fair to suggest that all Dunlops today are direct line descendents of the Dunlops of Dunlop, although the tree has branched and disseminated through many lands and cultures.
Looking at our particular family tree I have found that most of our antecedents lived in and around the Ayr peninsula. They married into mostly local families and the names of Glen, Colquhoun, Eaglesholme (This family probably originated from the village of Eaglesham in Renfrewshire), Love, Napier, Denny, Maxwell, Service, and Douglas are all part of the family lineage. The Clan Colquhoun of Luss on Loch Lomond is related and my aunt remembered visiting the Colquhouns in her youth. She also had a small and exquisite embroidered purse on which the words ‘John Maxwell, Dumbarton, 1642’ are worked in tiny glass beads. It was obviously designed to be worn on a chain as it has a small gold ring for a chain by the clasp. The fact that my aunt had it as a piece of family heirloom seems to indicate that the Maxwells were part of the family. I have not found a direct line to them, but there are Maxwells married into the line of Dunlops of Dunlop. In 1630 there is reference to the testament of Agnes Dunlop, ‘relict of John Maxwell, Maltman, burgess of Glasgow’ and circa 1500, a female Dunlop, of unknown name, daughter of John Dunlop, married Hugh Maxwell of Auldhouse Farm, a place which crops up more than once in the history of the Dunlops.
JAMES DUNLOP was born at ‘Gamshill’ in Dunlop, like his father before him. He married MARGARET KIRKWOOD and they had a son, Andrew.
ANDREW DUNLOP was born in 1826 at Dreghorn in North Ayrshire, between Kilmarnock and Irvine. He married MARY GLEN of Whitlae at Southannan in North Ayr in 1853. They had eleven children; David, James, Mary, Andrew, John, Robert, George, William, Thomas, Jane and Peter. Mary Glen’s mother was Mary Love (Formerly Luiff) of Paisley and her mother in turn was Mary Eaglesholme who was the daughter of Mary Douglas, so it is through this line that the family claims entitlement to the Douglas tartan (There is now a Dunlop tartan in existence, which is also available to those descended from the clan). Andrew Dunlop was a farmer and according to his grandson, Andrew Dunlop, he farmed at Luss on the south western shores of Loch Lomond before moving to Low Tirfergus on Kintyre. Low Tirfergus is located on the north western slopes of Tirfergus Hill between Machrihanish and Campbelltown. Andrew and his wife, Mary Glen, had eleven children in all, most of them born at Low Tirfergus. By 1870 the family had moved to Church Farm at Hendon near London. A good many Scottish farmers moved south and overseas to escape the privations suffered as a result of land grabs by the Lairds and frequent crop failures, at regular intervals throughout Scottish history. To support this theory, my aunt remembered her father speaking of ‘the years of the short corn’, so that possibly the family moved south because the crops failed in Kintyre. According to Andrew, the land south of the border was going cheap and the astute Scottish farmers saw their way to exploiting the ‘Sassenach’ landowners. Andrew also related to me the story of the migration from Kintyre, which entailed transporting the family, employees, livestock, farm implements, vehicles, furniture and other impedimenta, first by boat from Campbelltown on Kintyre to Ayr, and then by private train from Ayr to Hendon. By all accounts it was quite something to hire a whole train for such a move and I got the impression that it had become the stuff of family legend to which the young grandchildren at Church Farm became much attached. Church Farm was 480 acres of prime farm land and must have been quite an impressive estate. According to the 1901 census, the farm was leased by Mary Douglas Love, widowed wife of David Glen, whose daughter, Mary Glen, was married to Andrew Dunlop. The freehold of the farm was eventually purchased by Andrew’s son, George Dunlop.