Glassford Origin Stories                                                                                                       William / Mall

William Glassford of 1834 Story

The following  (story) about the origin of the name Glassford is the one which is best known among my line and comes from a  Genealogical Chart prepared by my 2nd cousin 5 times removed William Glassford, who was a teacher as well as a Scriptor / Genealogist, in 1834. The text is as it appears on the original document.

Rothsay Castle - Scotland 

"When King Robert Bruce of Scotland was scrambling for the kingdom and fighting his way in the west (circa 1306-1329) he was opposed by Argyle and other Highland Chiefs. At the time alluded to, he had come from Ayrshire, and had accomplished a landing in the island of Bute. His followers were few, and fewer still appeared to join his standard in the island, till GLASS of Ascog with sixteen retainers, and another small Laird with a few more retainers, joined him. By their example many others turned out and gained a battle, or skirmish it might perhaps be called, and in the evening, when Bruce returned to Rothsay Castle, which he took possession of, he was so pleased with the conduct of GLASS and his neighbours, that he caused his "learned clerk" to make out Free, or Crown Charters, in favour of the lands they held, i.e. he granted them the lands Free, for which they formerly paid rent or mail. These Charters are in existence to this day, bearing date from Rothsay Castle. GLASS's family, by this Grant and Royal Favour, became highly respectable, the Laird being now a small Baron. The junior members of the family, however, had to shift for them selves. Three of them came up to Clyde, and with the property they possessed, either rented or bought land as best they could make a bargain. One of them, who is said to be our Progenitor, took a large tract of land not far from the Castle of Erskine, nearly opposite Dunglass, where in those days there was a ford for men and cattle; owing to this circumstance, to the name Glass was added a cognomen "of the Ford" in contradistinction to the other brothers, settled higher up the river. Hence, he was called Glass o'the ford, or Glass o' ford; and when names began to be written it came to be signed Glassieford or Glasso'ford, and latterly, as it is at present, GLASSFORD. 

 "Surnames of Scotland  - Their Origin, Meaning and History" by George F. Black identifies " Glass of Ascog in Bute existed as one family locally called Barons from the 15th century till recently [5th printing of the book was in 1979]. In 1506 there is a record of as grant of lands of Langilculcreich in Bute to Alexander Glass."  These records appear to validate William’s account of the existence of a Glass of Ascog although not the tie to the Glassfords and the dates would appear to extend back to the 14th century not just 15th. (Glassford / Glass Connections to Scotland's Clans)


A similar story about the origins of the name is told by another branch of the family and was provided by Ethel Glassford in a1938 letter in which she relates a story told by her husband's grandfather (Ethel's husband's line was included in William’s original chart so this may be just a passing down of information;

Grandad always said that the name Glassford originated some like this At one time there was two families named Glass & as it was rather awkward for the neighbours to distinguish each family the spoke of them as Glass of the hill or some other thing & Glass of the ford (which is a stream in Scotland)


Glassford Family History by a Mall Genealogist

In the 1980’s, my father stopped at one of the stalls in a mall that was selling genealogical charts and histories and ordered one for the Glassfords. When my father died, this document passed to me. In reviewing a number of different family’s histories of the same nature, there appears a very distinct similarity between them, which may mean name substitution not actual history is shown in each of these documents. The following text therefore is not offered as an authentic history only some interesting background data.


The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname GLASSFORD


The northern border of England, interfacing with lowland Scotland, produced a thirty-mile wide corridor from Carlisle to Berwick from which many of the prominent names of the world emerged. Amongst these distinguished surnames was Glassford.

Research of ancient documents including the Inquistio, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Ragman Rolls, The Hearth Rolls, the Domesday Book, parish cartularies, baptismal, tax rolls revealed that the first record of the name Glassford was found in Lanarkshire where they had been seated from ancient times.

Although your name, Glassford, occurred in many references, from time to time the surname was spelt Glassford, Glasford, and these changes in spelling frequently occurred. Even between father and son. Sometimes a different spelling on each occasion though a lifetime at the same person’s birth, death or marriage.

The family name Glassford is believed to be originally from the Strathcyde Britons. This ancient, founding race of the north were a mixture of Gaelic/Celts whose original territories ranged from Lancashire in the south, northward to the south bank of the River Clyde, the Novantii in Galloway in the south west Scotland, and the Rhiged to the south in Comberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire.

From 400 A.D. to 900 A.D. their territory was overrun firstly by the Irish Gaels, then the Angles from the east, and, finally the Picts and Dalriadans from the north. However, their basic culture remained relatively undisturbed. By 1000 A.D., however, the race had formed into discernible Clans and families, perhaps some of the first evidence of the family structure in Britain.

By the 17th and 18th centuries many of these modern family names descended directly from this ancient race, including Glassford. Many of these families were later found scattered, not only throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, but all over the world, surnames which can now be traced back to this locality and time period. Tracing its ancient development, the name Glassford was found in Lanarkshire on the lands of Glassford in Strathhaven, The family moved to the north east town of Forth when Alexander Glasford served as treasurer in the town. Sir Roger Glasford rendered homage to King Edward the 1st of England in 1296. In 1300 Sir Alan Glasford witnessed a donation by Herbert Maxwell, and in 1306 Master Andrew Glasford was appointed sequestrator of the provostry of St. Mary’s in St. Andrews. The name seems to have lost some of its Clan relationship when the lands passed to Johnannes Symple in 1373, and the Glassfords were apparently forfeited by Robert, son of Robert the Bruce. Notable amongst the family at this time was Glasford was Strathaven.

In 1603, the Union of Scottish and English crowns became a reality under King James VI of Scotland, who was also crowned King James 1st of England. The crown dispersed the “unruly border clans”. In 1587, an act of Scottish Parliament had condemned certain border families for their lawlessness. Scotland was moving towards breaking up the old ‘border code’. Hence, the Border Clans were banished to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were outlawed directly to Ireland, the colonies and the new world.

Many of the Border Clans settled in Northern Ireland, transferred between 1650 and 1700 with grants of land provided that they ‘undertook’ to remain protestant.


Other stories may also exist and relate to some of the additional historical references that exist concerning the name Glassford or its derivatives (Historical ref's.)
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