The Clan Baillie

The following information was researched and complied by
Frank Baillie LT USN Ret. and given to us for use on this site.

Surname Origins
Baillie, Bayley, Baley, Baly, Baily, Bellie & other spelling variations all appear to go stem from the old French-Norman word baillis for administrator, official or steward which in turn goes back to the latin word balivus with a similar meaning. Persons who took that surname were non-royal Mayors, Judges, leaders of troops, constables etc. The first known was, Brithwin Brucellus, the village leader of Battle Abbey, named for the Abbey built by William the Conqueror to celebrate the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The spelling of Bayley became common in England as well. (The family of the author's Mother used the Bayley spelling in West Riding Yorkshire but two sons of that line, James & Richard of Rowley, Essex County, MA used the Bailey spelling in the mid 1630s.

The bailey is also the inner courtyard of a Norman motte & bailey castle. The motte being a mound on which the keep was built & the bailey an inner courtyard where the peasant's housing & workshops were situated. The person in charge of the innner court yard and/or of the laird's troops was called a bailey. The Celt word for village was baile, bally in Ireland, which likely have the same Norman origins. It is believed that most, if not all, Baillies took their names from the occupation of their ancester as did their English Bailey "cousins". Old Parish records contain the names of many Baillies whose unlettered ancestors allowed Parish clerks to misspell their name as Bellie or Belly. This was the case for the author's great grandfather & several of his children including the author's grandfather although previous generations used Baillie.

One version of the Scots Baillie surname origin purports that, during the reign of King Edward the first, a young bailey of Staffordshire killed his Lord in a dispute turned into a deadly duel. The victor was said to flee across the border into Scotland & took the name Baillie.

Legend has it that Sir William Baliol changed the name of his son Sir William to Baillie in order to escape the "tender mercies" of the English King after King John Baliol of Scotland was defeated by the English, deposed to languish in the Tower of London. Most Baliol lands were forfeit. Another associated "legend" has it that the wife of Sir William Baliol was the illlegitimate daughter of Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) & Marian Braidfute. The son of Sir William Baliol was said to be Sir Wm Baillie of Hoprig who, according to many historians, was the first Baillie whose name appears in known records. The first appearance was as a juror in a 1311 (or 1312) inquest regarding forfeit lands in Lothian. In 1315 he was a witness to a charter by John de Graham, Lord of Albecorn. He was knighted in 1357 & received a royal charter to the Barony of Lamington (sometimes called Lambiston). The Bailies of Ireland were said to originate when a son of the Lamington, Lanarkshire line emigrated & dropped an "L" in the spelling of his name.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Mr Baillie Cochran an MP (Member of Parliament) for the Isle of Wight took it on himself to revitalize the village of Lamington, over a fifty year period from 1838. The Episcopal Chapel, "Holy Trinity", was part of that building process. Lamington is often called the "Home of the Baillies". In recent years the Biggar Museum Trust, Moat Park, Biggar, ML12 6DT, started a campaign to rennovate the "Holy Trinity" & an 800+ year old church, Saint Ninian's on whose grounds many generations of Baillies were buried.

References: 1, 3 & 4 WERE available via Barnes & Noble (1-800-242- 6657)

(1) Collins "Scottish Clans & Families Encyclopedia" by George Way ISBN 0-00-470547-5 (about $60)
(2) "The Bailey Family" by the American Genealogical Research Institute of Arlington, VA" 1972 ISBN unknown (xerox copy help by author)
(3) "The Surnames of Scotland" by George Black ISBN 1-874744-07-6 (about $40)
(4) "Scotland & Her Tartans" by Alexander Fulton ISBN 0-8317-7717-6 (about $20)

Frank Baillie has also compiled a list of Baillies & Baillie Researchers.

Frank Baillie (Mother was a Bailey)

Frank Baillie LT USN Ret
1693 Roosevelt Ave SE
Port Orchard WA


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