Case Study: Ethnicity in the burghs

It is clear from documentary evidence that many of the occupants of the early burghs of Scotland were not native Scots, for example when King Edward I of England made his progress North to receive the submission of the burghs the names of the burgesses are largely Flemish and English and a grant of land in the Garioch, Aberdeenshire by Earl David (1171-1199) specifically identifies ‘omnibus probis hominibus totius terrae suae, Francis, Anglis, Flamingis et Scottis’ (All of the men in all of your land, the French, the English, the Flemings and the Scots) (Rot. Scacc. Reg. Scot I, lxxxii).    When mentioned in the documents the names of Perth burgesses are commonly trade related such as lorimer (metalworker), galeator (helmet maker) or faber (smith) but there are also references to people with surnames that are not Scottish e.g. Richard of Leicester and  in the mid 13th century the families of Scarborough, De Stamford and La Bataille are also mentioned.   David I seems to have used Flemings to lay out some of his burghs for example, Mainard the Fleming who laid out Berwick was invited to lay out St Andrews, and Ranulf, who was also Flemish, laid out Haddington and Glasgow.  The evidence would seem to be suggest that many of these new towns could even be regarded as ‘plantations’ with few Scottish inhabitants in their early years of occupation.

Figure 31: From the mid to late 14th century imported ceramic heating systems from Northern Germany became popular in Scotland, this photograph shows the only Scottish tile that is not from a monastery and comes from excavations on the Skinnergate in Perth ©SUAT Ltd.

Figure 31: From the mid to late 14th century imported ceramic heating systems from Northern Germany became popular in Scotland, this photograph shows the only Scottish tile that is not from a monastery and comes from excavations on the Skinnergate in Perth ©SUAT Ltd.


Return to Section 4.1 Identity