Newsletter No. 4


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News Letter Number Four

Society of Edgar Families

Melbourne, Australia


Lawrence-Archer's Notes on the Edgar Coat of Arms

by William H Edgar, JP

Some three year's efforts to obtain a copy of Captain JH Lawrence-Archer's work, "Account of the Surname of Edgar and particularly of the family of Wedderlie," 1868-1873, have proved unfruitful to our Society, but through the courtesy of Mr John Macleod of Edinburgh, an unsigned manuscript of some thirty pages came into the writer's possession, in which appears a marginal note in the same handwriting over the initials "JHLA", from which it may be safely assumed the author was none other than Lawrence-Archer.


In this mms it would appear that he scholarly writer has taken a short flight of fancy and woven a most interesting and picturesque theory as to the possible circumstances that brought about the inclusion of the legend "Maun do it" in the armorial device of Edgar of Wedderlie.


Lawrence-Archer, a painstaking and careful investigator, makes no claim to fact, but from the many authorities he quotes, he draws clever deductions and presents a convincing case and a fascinating picture with a ready appeal to the reader's imagination.


He takes us back to that tragic incident, the slaughter of the Red Comyn, and quotes the crest and motto of the Kirkpatrick family, "a hand grasping a dagger with gouts of blood," and the motto "I make sure," and draws attention to the similarity between this heraldic device and that of Edgar of Wedderlie, remarking that there are "equal, if not superior grounds for attributing" the Edgar motto to this incident than that of Kirkpatrick. Space permits no lengthy quotation, but after painting out the circumstances in which Sir Richard Edgar stood at that time and his relationship with Bruce, he graphically describes what may have taken place at the slaughter of Sir John Comyn at the high altar of the church in Dumfries in February 1305-1306.


"Hastening with his retainers on that cold morning in February 1306 to the castle of Loshmaben to ascertain the cause of the Bruce's sudden return from the English Court, we may readily picture the sombre Knight of Wedderlie, Lord of Nithsdale, in earnest consultation with the hero and his brother on the urgency of the occasion … There stands the knight in his linked coat of mail, plated gauntlets and triangular shield suspended round his neck. It is sable and bears the white lion rampant of Dunbar with the legend "Salutem disponit Deus." His helmet of steel, conical and covered with a hood and collar of mail, does not yet bear a crest. From his hauberk downwards, his stalwart limbs are shoated in flexible armour. On one side, secured by the knightly belt, is a long, broad faulchion and on the other is a short dagger.


His black surcoat is embroidered with his armorial insignia and contrasts strongly with those of his companions.


Deeply attentive to the Bruce's recital of his wrongs and account of the deceit of "Longshape" (the injustice of whose pretensions must have been so familiar) and while the illustrious brothers earnestly debated the question and yet hesitated to incur the peril of renouncing their enforced allegiance, the taciturn knight, deeply impressed with the importance of a speedy decision, may have turned the scale by involuntarily clutching his dagger and muttering


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with deep emotion "Maun do it."


Or … Edgar, at first horror stricken and standing alone, may have been suddenly struck (since the deed could not he undone) with the duty of throwing all his energies into the cause of the future King, and already penitent friend, and, with the fierce exclamation "Maun dir it" (although abhorrent of murder), may have rushed into the church and joined the fray.


At all events, we know sufficient to be assured that, after the slaughter of the Red Comyn, Sir Richard Edgar was regarded with especial consideration by the Bruce."


The truth will never be known, but Lawrence-Archer says there is every reason to believe that the motto and crest of the family "originated during the heroic struggle of Robert the Bruce," and we are indebted to him for throwing much light on the age and probable origin of the armory of the Edgars of Wedderlie.



Life Members: It was resolved at the Meeting of the Executive Council which took place on 17th May 1939, that the following persons should be admitted to the Society as Life Members:


Pelham Edgar, FRSC, PhD, BA, Professor of English Literature at the University of Toronto, Canada


James Keithock Edgar, of Toronto, Canada, Chief of the House of Keithock


We delight to honour both these gentlemen for the real interest they have taken in the work of the Society of Edgar Families, and for the great assistance which they continue to give in the preparation of a full history of the Keithock Edgars.


Jacobite Letters: Lieut-Col JM Edgar was able to arrange for the photographing by a miniature camera of the notable collection of Edgar letters of the Jacobite period which was loaned to us by Mr JK Edgar of Toronto. The film will be cared for by the Hon Secretary until such time as it becomes possible to publish the letters in the News Letter. Kieut-Col Edgar has presented the films to the Society free of cost and his most generous action is another and striking proof of his interest in our work.


Badges: Mrs Keith Nicholson has made the interesting suggestion that a special badge be made for sale to Members and Associates. Enquiries made so far seem to suggest that there would be considerable support for the idea. It would be necessary to ensure that the badge would be acquired by all those who would be eligble to wear it.


The cost of a suitable badge of neat design would approximate 2/6. All those who would like to have a visible token indicating their membership of the family Society should advise the Hon Secretary (I Trentham-Edgar, 75 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Melbourne S2) by letter. No money should be forwarded pending a further announcement in the News Letter.


Picnic Outing: Members, Associates and their families will be invited to attend a picnic outing at a place within easy reach of Melbourne when the weather is warmer. Private transport will be provided without charge where necessary. This outing should prove a happy one and all who can do so should attend, so that the various families of Edgar may become better acquainted. Details will be announced at a later date.


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Photographs: Although stocks of views of Wedderlie House have been exhausted, two difference views of the Twinlaw Cairns (see Mr William H Edgar's interesting article in the May issue of the News Letter) are available at 9d each; postage 2d.


At a later time it is hoped to offer prints of other historic Edgar homes - Keithock, Peffermiln, Elshieshields and Evelaw.

Edgars in the Australian Imperial Forces – Victoria


The Secretary to the Trustees of the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, has kindly supplied the following list of Edgars who served in the Great War. Names, Regimental numbers and decorations are given.





























































































Military Medal






Military Cross




There are thirty four names listed: Messrs CA, JM, LC and OS Edgar are Members or Associate Members of this Society.


Origin of the Surname Edgar

"This name might be considered Saxon in origin, but it is not so, claiming a Galwegian source (Celtic). The Edgars may look with interest on the Dovenald who, still a youth, was killed when fighting as one of the leaders of the "Wild Scots of Galloway" at the Battle of the Standard in 1138, when they lost heavily. According to the Historian of Sanquhar, he was one of the three grandsons of a Scoto-Irish chief called Dunegal of Stranith, who received Sanquhar. A son named Edgar appears in the reign of William the Lion, and it may not be improbably that David interested himself in the family of one of the leaders, victims of that battle, for which he was responsible".

Source: "anglo-Norman Peaceful Invasion of Scotland, 1057-1200, Origin of Great Scottish Families: 91922) by James Coutts


Edgars in Parliament

Alexander Edgar, provost; Haddington 1696-1702, 1703-1707

Edward Edgar, merchant; Edinburgh, 1640-1641; 1646-1647

John Edgar of Wedderlie; Berwickshire, 1681-1682; son of John Edgar of Wedderlie

Source: from Members of Parliament - Scotland, 1357-1882, by Joseph Foster, 1882


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In the Parliament on Monday, 4th November 1706, Alexander Edgar voted with the Noes on a division taken on the religious consequences of the Union of the two countries - England and Scotland.

Source: from History of the Union, Daniel Defoe (1709) reprinted in part in the Dundee Magazine, February 1799


Subscription Rates

For the convenience of those desiring to renew their membership of the Society, we set out the rates again. Members outside Australia should remit by International Money Order.


Members (per annum)






Associates (per annum)






Associate members may not vote at Meetings of the Society. Only those residing more than 25 miles from Melbourne may become Associate Members.


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John Edgar, Laird of Wedderlie (Reg Gt Seal, Privy Seal, etc), married Elizabeth, dau of William, 1st Lord Cranstoun (marr. contract C.1619). They had issue:


1.       James, who died before 1643, unmarried

1.       Elizabeth. She married John Edgar and the Wedderlie estates were settled upon them. She died before 1664.

2.       Margaret. She was, about 1668, accepted as the heir of her brother James and sister Anna.

3.    Anna, died unmarried.


Nicol Edgar, merchant and burgess of Edinburgh. His descent from the Wedderlie Edgars has not been ascertained. He had issue:

1.       Nicol, merchant and burgess of Edinburgh. Tutor (or guardian) of Wedderlie. Buried 18 April 1667, at Edinburgh. He married at Edinburgh on 13 December 1655, Helen (buried 13 May 1697), dau of James Gillies, merchant, of Edinburgh, by his wife Helen Aikman. They had issue:

[1]      James, bapt 15 February 1657

[2]      John, bapt 26 June 1664

[3]      Samuel, bapt 16 June 1665

A       Joan, bapt 25 June 1667

B       John Edgar, in right of his wife Laird of Wedderlie, of whom later.

C       William, buried 1 January 1668. He married and had issue:

[a]      Richard

[b]      Ninian

[a]      Isabella

[b]      Bessie


John Edgar (d. 1657), married Elizabeth (Testament 22 October 1664), dau of John Edgar, Laird of Wedderlie (see previously). They had a charter of confirmation in the lands of Wedderlie dated 5 July 1643. Issue:

1.       John, Laird of Wedderlie, of whom later.

2.       Alexander, apprenticed to Samuel Chieslie, Surgeon and was appointed Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, 1 July 1697, and Provost of Haddington, 1696. MP for Haddington, 1696-1702; 1703-1707. He died in November 1714. By his wife Agnes …, he had issue:


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[1]      John (d. 1722). Admitted a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, 11 April 1712. He married Christian, dau of William Brown, Surgeon. They had issue a daughter

a        Christian, who married Thomas Sinclair


3.       Nicol, bapt 27 July 1658, at Westruther. Minister of Hobkirk, 28 Sept 1694; died 31 May 1724. He married Susanna (d. 30 June 1713), dau of John Veitch, Minister of Westruther. They had issue:

[1]      John, d January 1715, aet 17

[1]      Susanna

[2]      Elizabeth, married Robert Blyth

A       Alison (Testament dated 1654)

B       Mary Executrix of her father's Testament, Comm of Lauder, 18 October 1664

C       Agnes (or Jean). Married 8 April 1652, James Achisone of Ugstone, in the Stewartry of Lauderdale

D Margaret, bapt 14 June 1657, at Westruther


John Edgar, Laird of Wedderlie, was served heir to his father, 28 May, 1663. He was MP for Berwickshire, 1681-1682. He was declared a rebel in 1679. Married 17 March 1679, Jean, dau of Thomas Robertson of Lochbank, merchant and burgess of Edinburgh. They had issue:

1.       John, Laird of Wedderlie, of whom later

2.       Thomas, bapt 18 November 1680; bur 24 October 1694

3.       Henry, bapt 5 January 1684; bur 6 November 1720

4.       Alexander

5.       William, bapt 19 June 1701, wright, merchant and burgess of Edinburgh (admitted 1726); Testament 14 October 1746 - 8 June 1753

1.       Margaret. Married John Marhoribanks of Dedrige, par. Gordon

2.       Mary, bapt 23 September 1681

3.    Jean, bapt 30 March 1694


John Edgar, Laird of Wedderlie, bapt 25 September 1682. Merchant and burgess of Edinburgh, 4 February 1736. He was the last of his family to own Wedderlie. The estate was sold to Robert, Lord balntyre, 1733-1736. On 25 July 1736, John Edgar presented a handsome Bible to the church and congregation of Westruther to mark the departure of the Edgars from the parish. This Bible was still (1938) in use, but the Laird's inscription in it has been removed by some vandal. John Edgar married Mary, dau of George Home of Chirnside. They had issue:

1.       John, b 25 October 1720

2.       Henry, b. 25 December 1721


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3.       Joseph, b 30 August 1724

4.       Michael, b 1 November 1728

5.       Alexander, of whom later

1.       Mary, b 5 July 1719

2.       Jean, b 30 April 1723

3.       Marion, b 26 January 1726

4.    Katherine, b 23 February 1733


Alexander Edgar, b 17 August 1736, was the eldest surviving son of John Edgar, last Edgar, Laird of Wedderlie. He was appointed Rear Admiral of the Red on 20 February 1799, and after living for some years at Great Yarmouth he died without male issue at Bedford Street, Bedford Square, London, on 20 February 1817. (Will, 123 Effingham, Perog Ct of Canterbury). Admiral Edgar married, in January 1773, Sophia Margaret, (d. 21 January 1807, aet 47), dau of James Johnstone, MD RN. They had an only child:


1.      Sophia Bethia Edgar (d. 1856). She married firstly, in 1806, Robert Campbell, Captain RN; and secondly in 1819, Alexander Tait LL.D of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. There was issue only of the first marriage:-


[1]      William Huntly *1808-1844). Captain, 20th Regiment; (2) Robert Edgar; and two daughters:-


A     Sophia, married major Starkey, EICS


B     Marguerite, married J J Russell


Upon the death of Rear Admiral Alexander Edgar in 1817, Thomas Edgar, at that time head of the Edgars of Keithock, made application to the Lord Lyon for recognition as the head of the Wedderlie family. It is not now known what proofs Mr Edgar offered in support of his claim, but as he was deeply interested in the history of the Edgars, it is likely that he posssessed some evidence illustrating the connection between the Wedderlie and the Keithock Edgars. Unfortunately, upon Mr Edgar's deathon 7 September 1831, his extensive genealogical collections were neglected and when his brother, James Edgar, came to examine them about a year later, he found that most of the papers had been destroyed by the depredation of mice.


Edited for the Society of Edgar Families by I Trentham-Edgar

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