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Monday, June 12, 2017

Carmichael revisited Part I


According to The Carmichael Clan Association there is only one source of the name “Carmichael” and that is territorial or geographical in origin from the northern edge of the southern Uplands in Scotland.

In the year 1058, Queen Margaret chose an ancient hill fort or ‘caer’, in a prominent location close to the main route from the border, for the site of one of her first six churches to be established in the see of Glasgow. She dedicated the church to St. Michel and the district and its people became ‘of Caermichel’ when surnames became necessary in the 13th century.

In the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, Carmichaels traveled widely. Some went to Galloway where they became kinsmen of the Stewarts of Galloway. Later they moved northward to Lismore and Appin and became kinsmen of the Stewarts of Appin and the McDougals. Further movements brought them to Ireland, the Americas, European countries and Australia. In 1997, the world-wide Carmichael population was estimated at over 42,000 with half the residents in the USA, a quarter in the UK, 10% in Canada and the remaining in Australia/Asia, Europe, and also South Africa.

The Ordnance Gazetteer for Scotland, published well over one hundred years ago, described Carmichael as a hamlet and a parish of south central Lanarkshire. It was also described as 4 ¾ miles from N to S and covering more  than 11,000 acres, of which 50 ½ are water.

From Carmichael: A History of the Parish and its People Vol. 1, there is a variety of spellings, including Carmychell (1374), Carmychale (1410), Carmichel (1470 & 1518), Cayrmichel and Cayrmychell (1474), Carmychel (1485), Carmichell (1494), Kermychell (1497), Carmechele (1517), Carmychall (1575), Carmighell (1590), Carmigell (1646), Carmichaill (1672), and Carmichaell (1684). There are also undated spellings of Karemigel, Kermikel and Kermighel. Universally, spelling wasn’t standardized until the mid-to late 1800’s. Many early documents show that even common words were spelled in various ways within the same paragraph. Once spelling became standardized, surnames soon followed and today, the family name is now accepted as Carmichael.

The lands of Carmichael were once held by Sir James de Douglas in 1321, by a Charter of Robert I. William de Carmichael, as a vassal under the Lords of Douglas, is mentioned in a charter in 1350 and his son, John de Carmychell had a charter of Carmychell lands, from William, Earl of Douglas, between 1374 and 1384. This John became the 1st Baron of Carmichael. John died before 1410 and his brother William succeeded him. Carmichael is considered a Cadet of the Douglas Clan. Generally, Cadet refers to relationships through female lines. There have been many marriages between the two families over the last 900 years or so, that would definitely give credence to this claim.


To continue with William (from above), who had a son John, who married Lady Mary Douglas, daughter of Earl George Douglas. John fought with the French against the English and died in 1436 leaving three sons, William, Robert and John. From William, descend the Carmichaels of Meadowflat and from John, descend the Carmichaels of Balmedie, Fife. Other sources also indicates that Robert possessed land in the county of Fife.

The Carmichaels who came to Nova Scotia in the 1790’s were from Aberlour and other places in Banffshire. Since I had not been able to connect them to the Lanarkshire Carmichaels with any certainty, I sent a quick query to the Carmichael Clan office to see if they knew of a connection and could point me to some information to research. I received a very nice reply from Clan Chief Richard, himself, which said: “Your Aberlour Carmichaels are (I think) still there in Banffshire. Check out the Carmichael worldwide database for more details. From memory they are descended from the Carmichaels of Balmedie in Fife and were in Banffshire before 1650.”


And so started my journey.  I have gone over records from Fife and Banff dating back to 1600 but, as yet, have found no solid connection to the Carmichaels my family claims to be theirs. So rather than hold up the completion of this blog I will put in what I have found but will continue to search for more information. However, this blog has become extremely long so I will break it into pieces making it more manageable for all.


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