WHY A CLAN SOCIETY?
One could be forgiven for wondering why anyone would want to join a Clan Society in this day and age. It may seem like a bunch of silly old men, dressing in kilts that were not in use in Scotland until the 1700s and were never
worn by members of a lowland clan like ours. These men often engage in the adolescent and unsanitary practise of "going commando." Members are celebrating a Scotland that has not existed for centuries, if ever. Today's Scotland has around five million inhabitants, fewer than the one city that serves as the home of the Clan Little Society in North America (Atlanta, Georgia). There are more people in North America alone claiming Scottish ancestry than there are people of any background in Scotland.
You don't have to be Scottish or or even have the requisite surname to join a clan society. Clans in Scotland were known to be inclusive of outsiders who expressed allegiance to the family name. A clan society is a group of people who share a common interest in a particular surname. If you have an interest in the surname Little or any of its various spellings (such as Lyttle, Lytle, Lytil, Littel, Littell, Lityl, or Litle), the buttons above will link you to a regional social group that you can join. Pat Little provides the following summary of why someone might want to join.
People join together as a clan family and with other clans and clan societies to preserve the history and traditions practiced by Scottish ancestors. This is done at clan callings, Burns dinners, Hogmanay celebrations, highland games and festivals and other cultural and heritage events. They provide educational lectures and set up displays in schools and libraries.
They have fun participating in community and holiday parades; they sing and dance together to the music of pipes, fiddle, drums, and other traditional instruments. They meet interesting people and, at nearly every Scottish event, honor the military with ceremonies. They provide small scholarships to support children undertaking studies in Scottish dance, piping, and language.
They support clan athletes at Scottish games who compete in golf, clay shooting, shortbread baking, archery, and history quizzes. They worship together at Kirk (church) ceremonies such as Flowers of the Forest, which remembers members who have passed on, and the Blessing of the Tartan.
Some societies, including the Clan Little Society of North America, have a Genealogist who shares research information that has been donated by members as well as a Quartermaster who sells unique members-only products such as official tartan material for kilts and authentic clan jewelry (crests, badges, and pins).
Our most cherished story comes from the minstrel who called himself "Blind Harry," a common nickname for the devil at the time. He wrote epic poems (in heroic couplets) that were like very long ballads. The most famous of these portrayed the exploits of William "Braveheart" Wallace
. In that poem, Harry introduced a nephew called "Eduuard Littil, his sistir sone so der" (Edward Little, his sister's son so dear). Along with Tom Halliday, Edward is said to have fought side-by-side with Wallace in the battles of 1296 and 1297. Based on this association with the famous William Wallace, we sometimes enjoy claiming Edward as the founder of our clan.
However, the minstrel was an entertainer and not a historian. He made his living reciting these epic poems at the homes of nobles. So he fabricated details of day to day life to dramatize the events of oral history. He may have had some written sources, but they could not have provided the level of detail that filled his 12-volume 11,877 line epic tale. Harry was writing in the late 1470s, about 170 years after the English had hanged, drawn, and quartered Wallace at London in August of 1305. It is no surprise that some of his information was wrong. For example, he attributed Robert the Bruce's Battle of Loudon Hill to Wallace. He also told of Wallace leading an army to the outskirts of London, something that almost certainly did not happen. Because of these and other liberties with the truth, no historian would rely on Blind Harry's stories without corroborating evidence. And there is no mention of Edward Little in any other source—including census records, marriage notices, charters, or contracts of any kind. He is not mentioned until long after Harry's poem, referring back to that poem as a source. Thus, Edward's existence is in some doubt and any speculation about his ancestry is pure fantasy.
On the other hand, Harry mentioned Edward many times (Book III, lines 57 & 201; Book IV, line 147; Book V, lines 726, 737, 1085, & 1117; Book X, line 794). One of those references reports that Edward went to Annandale, an area just 20 miles West of Meikledale (where the Clan Little established its home a Century later). He described Edward's relationship to Wallace quite specifically. There are indeed some Hallidays buried in the graveyards where we find many Littles buried. Harry claimed to have been using a Latin "Life of Sir William Wallace" that was written by Wallace's lifelong friend and chaplain, John Blair, in 1327. No one has ever seen that book or reported seeing that book then or now, but the same can be said of other documents from that era. Harry also refers to Sir Thomas Gray, a parson of Liberton, as another source. The "Little of Morton Rigg" tartan designed for the Clan Little Society draws blatantly from the Wallace design and was nonetheless officially approved. So perhaps we can be forgiven for clinging to our somewhat tenuous connection with the Wallace legend.
Inherited surnames, as opposed to by-names (nick-names attached to individuals), came to the British Isles with the Norman Conquest in 1066. Even then, they were only used by nobles who wanted to be associated with the new rulers. Most people did not use surnames until at least a century later.
We have found early examples of the diminutive surname, such as Alan Little who received a grant of forest land on the south side of the river Ayr from the first Walter the Steward before 1177. After 1204, this tract of land was granted by the second Walter the Steward to the monks of Melrose, on Alan's conversion to the monastic life
. Was this person related to the Littles of Meikledale, near Langholm?
Hugo Parvus, clericus regis, served in Eskdale in the time of William the Lion 1165-1214
. Was this the same Hugo Parvus who served as burgess of Dundee in 1202?
Dundee is about 150 miles away from Eskdale. Was he related to one R. Parvus, a chaplain who witnessed a charter in favor of the Hospital of Soltre sometime between 1214-1240?
The word parvus
does indeed mean little or small in Latin.
In 1313, a John Litill participated in an inquest in Lanark
. An agreement was registered between the abbot of Scone and Robertus dictus Lytil in 1332
. Martin Litell at Abirdowyr in Fife witnessed a charter by William "Dominus Vallis de Lodell" in 1351
and might have been the same Martin Lytill who possessed land at Cardvyn (Cadwan) in 1358
. It seems that the name Little (in some form or another) appeared often in the general area where Wallace lived out his storied life.
There seems to have been some connection with the Douglasses in our own background. Adam Lityll is listed as a tenant of Douglas in the barony of Kilbucho in 1376
. Nicol Litil is listed, among others, as debtors to the Earls of Douglas for the West Marche of Scotland as part of a truce on November 6, 1398
. Johannes Litill is listed as a vicar at Lestalrig in 1448
The earliest recorded landowners in Ewesdale (the valley around the Ewes waters) were the Lovels and de Kunyburgs. Sometime between 1243 and 1247, Sir John Fraser married a daughter of Sir William de Kunyburg and thereby came into possession of the lands of Ewesdale (both sides of Ewes water)
. In 1410, on the surrender of those lands by Alexander Fraser to the governor, the Western dale of Ewes water was first granted to the Littles
by Robert Stewart. Until his death in 1420, he was 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland. Furthermore, since James I was in captivity in England, Robert was the king in all but name.
Shortly after James I returned, he confirmed the earlier grant to his "beloved and faithful Simon Lytil of all and whole the lands of Senbigil, of Mikkildale, of Kirktown, of Sourbie, of the Malnarlande, and of the Pullis, by and in the barony of Mallarynok, within the Sheriffdom of Dumfries, which lands belonged to Alexander Fraser of Ewisdale, and were fully resigned by him into the hands of the said governor; to be held by the said Simon and his heirs of the King and his heirs, in fee and heritage as freely as they had been held by the said Alexander Fraser or his predecessors, for performing to the King and his heirs the services due and wont from the said lands. Given under the great seal at Edinburgh, 30th April, 1426, in the 20th year of the King's reign"
Most of the families in the area were tenants of the great landowners of Eskdale and Ewesdale—in succession the Douglases to 1455, the Maxwells to 1603, and thereafter the Scotts, Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry. In contrast, Simon and the succeeding chiefs of the Clan Little (just like the Elliotts across the river at Arkleton) held their lands as feudal tenants in capite
(directly from the Crown).
THE CLAN LITTLE
Simon Lytil, 1st Laird of Meikledale, is therefore considered to be the first chief of the name. He probably did not live at Meikledale in the beginning, since he was identified as "Simon Littill of Kirktoun" (about a mile South or Meikledale) when witnessing a document on December 29, 1469
Members of the clans in that area were considered to be Border Reivers (pronounced "reevers"). During the Anglo-Scottish border wars of 1296-1603, when not being used as militia by one or another noble, many of them were raiding and reiving (stealing and retrieving livestock) on both sides of the border. They were skilled equestrians and by the close of the 16th century had earned a reputation as the finest light cavalry in Europe. Less warlike clansmen served as monks in abbeys such as Sweetheart, Holyrood, and the Franciscan convent of Greyfriars in Dumfries.
Members of the Clan Little became established throughout that area: not only in Ewesdale, but also in nearby Eskdale and Wauchopedale. Jeffra and William Litell were in court on October 27, 1479. Simon Litell, along with John and Alan Litill, were cited for failing to appear as surety in 1504. In 1543, Christopher Lytle was involved in a court case. James and Johnne Lytill were mentioned in the pay list of the Lord High Treasurer, showing the expenses of a raid to Eskdale and the siege of Langholme Tower in July, 1547
Alan Little was a descendant of Richard le Lytle of the fifth post-Conquest Anglo-Norman generation of a powerful family in Cheshire. Richard le Lytle, was the third son of Richard de Overton, himself a third son in the extended family descended via Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas, from the ruthless Marcher Lord, Hugh "Lupus" (the Wolf), Comte d'Avranches. Earl of Chester, and nephew of William the Conqueror. Landless younger sons of younger sons on the fringe of powerful Norman families had to hit the road and fend for themselves. Alan Little was granted lands at Cairntable in Ayrshire by Walter Fitzalan, High Stewart of Scotland, his former neighbour over the county border in Shropshire, (They were to end their days together as lay brothers of Melrose Abbey). In Ayrshire the Littles intermarried with Crawfords and Wallaces. Edward Little, Sir William Wallace's nephew, "my sisters sonne so dere", fought at his uncle's side in the initial guerilla phase of the Wars of Independence in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire. In the following century Nicol Little was one of the "Conservators for the Peace for Lochmabenston" ie the Cloch Mabon, the huge boulder by the Solway at Gretna where the opposing Wardens of the English and Scottish West Marches met periodically to sort disputes and administer rough justice.
Heralds were first mentioned in Western Europe about the time of the First Crusade in 1095. Since the early 15th century, the Sovereign has delegated the power to grant new Coats of Arms to officers (Kings of Arms), their juniors (Heralds), and their own juniors (Pursuivants). In Scotland, these duties are handled by the Court of the Lord Lyon where he has the final word on all such matters.
The Crest of the chiefs of Clan Little was a demi-lion in black spattered with silver saltires; in his right paw he holds a cutlass, in his left the cross of St. Andrew. The only splash of color is in the red claws. The Crest rests on a wreath of the livery colors. This would be traditionally be attached to the chief's helmet, so that he could be recognized by this and his shield and surcoat even in his fighting armor. No one but the chief may wear the crest.
Members of the clan may wear the chief's crest, surrounded by a belt and buckle (to signify subservience to the chief). Because there is currently no chief, we use the crest of Little of Meikledale of old with his motto.
In 1672, David was the last Laird of Meikledale and last Chief of Clan Little to register arms. His full coat of arms consists of the shield and the crest [Workman's Manuscript, Lyon Office]
The Shield shows the arms - a silver St. Andrew's Cross (often rendered as white) on a black background. The dominant black and white comprise the livery colors of the Border Littles.
The Clan Little plant is heather, ubiquitous in Scotland.
The Clan Little at Meikledale had two mottoes:
Concedo Nulli — I submit to nothing.
(often mistranslated as the imperative "Never Surrender!")
Fidei Coticula Crux — The cross is the test of truth.
While the Littles of Liberton (Edinburgh) had their own:
Magnum in Parvo — Great in Little.
Multum in Parvo — Much in Little.
In the 1500s, members of the Clan Armstrong were rising to prominence as outlaws throughout the area. It was said in 1528 that they could muster 3,000 horsemen, Littles amongst them. Their leader, Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, posed a threat to King James V who arranged in 1530 to meet him at Caerlanrig. The King's men ambushed 33 Armstrongs, Littles, Elliots, and Irvings, including Johnnie, and they were all hanged on the spot
In 1568/9, more than 100 Littles rode with Batysons, Armstrongs, Glendinnings, and Thompsons as part of a raid on Stirling by John, the 8th Lord Maxwell. Family tradition has it that the Littles returned with many more horses than they had when they left. Near the end of 1581, Maxwell became the Earl of Morton briefly on the execution of James Douglas (the 4th Earl of Morton) and continued until Archibald Douglas (the 5th Earl of Morton) was confirmed in 1586. On December 10, 1585, during his brief time as "the Earl of Morton 4.5," he arranged a pardon
naming more than fifty Littles including "Sim Little, laird of Meikledale" (presumably, another Simon Little).
On the 8th of July, 1587, a session of parliament was opened with five Lord Commissioners and three deputies in attendance. One of those Lord Commissioners was William Little [of Liberton], Provost of Edinburgh. Although William was a cousin of the Littles at Meikledale (the home of the Clan Little), he helped to pass an act on July 29th "for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the disordered subjects: inhabitants of the borders, highlands, and isles."
Attached to that Act is a list of the relevant clans, including seventeen from the Borders (Southern edge of Scotland). They are further divided into the Middle March and the West March. The third clan to be mentioned in the West March is the Littles (Litillis), behind only the Scotts (of Ewisdaill) and the Beatties (Batesonis).
In 1603, the next King James (James VI of Scots) became concurrently James I of England:
an event known as the Union of the Crowns. James now had no need for a fighting force in his 'Middle Shires' and the Border reivers had no place to hide. A conscious effort was made to chase these troublesome clansmen out of Scotland, sometimes to Ulster and sometimes directly to New England.
The Littles of Liberton
In c. 1500 Edward Little, probably from his arms a second son of the Chief, went to Edinburgh, set up as a cloth merchant in the Boothraw and became involved in town politics. William Little. the eldest of his three sons was killed at Flodden in 1513, but his brothers prospered. The family later moved out of town to nearby Liberton. Clement Litill, 2nd of Liberton, advocate, died in 1580 leaving his now priceless collection of three hundred books to the town. They were then gifted to the town's new municipal University as the Clement Litill Bequest. He is remembered as the "Founder of Edinburgh University Library". His younger brother William Litill, 3rd of Liberton, who died on-24th November 1601, was twice Provost of Edinburgh towards the end of the 16th Century. The Litill brothers were involved with Lawson and others in planning for the new University subsequently built on the site of Kirk o Field, blown up in 1567 by the murderers of Mary Queen of Scots' second husband, Lord Darnley. At a ceremony in November 2001 at the Litill Memorial in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Clan Little Society donated a plaque in memory of the brothers Clement and William Litill. The plaque was unveiled by the present Lord Provost on the 400th Anniversary to the day of his distant predecessor's death.
The Clan of the Sword and the Cross
Other Little clansmen turned from the rough, Godless, and violent life of the Border travelling, not northwards to commerce and politics, but to the contemplative life of a monk in one of the religious houses thirty miles to the west. In the 16th Century William Litill was a monk in the Abbey of Sacre Coeur, John Little in 1300 and a later John Little in the 16th Century, were both monks in the Monastery of Sacre Bois, and Robert Little was Warden of the Convent of the Greyfriars in Dumfries where two centuries earlier Bruce had slain the Comyn before the High Altar.
END OF THE CLAN
On September 24, 1606, Thomas Lytill (Simon's son) disposed of the 6 1/2 merk lands of Sorbie in favor of William Armstrong and his son, Alexander and on June 21, 1615, Thomas Litle of Meikledale disposed of the 4 merk lands of Kirktown to William Armstrong
. The last of the estate of Meikledale passed out of family together with the title of laird in 1666 for a bond in trust to William Johnston, merchant of Edinburgh for 1500 pounds
. It then came into the hands of Adam Elliot (son of the factor to Buccleuch) until his death August 16, 1682 at the age of 82 or 83. He had been quite successful and was able to leave property for his three sons. The oldest son Walter inherited Arkleton, and the second son John got Thorlyshope (Thorlawhope)
Another Simon Little, grandfather of David the last chief. was chief at the Union of the Crowns when Border warfare officially came to all end. Simon's son Thomas, and Thomas' son David, were the last Littles to be lairds of Meikledale
. David was given work as a groom at Windsor Castle. The chiefly line can be traced down to yet another Simon Little in Nittyholme, Canonbie in 1745 "the linear heir male of this family".
Adam's third son, William, inherited Meikledale. William's life was "unfortunate." He married one of the Scotts of Merrylaw but left her to run away with "some sort of gipsie." Reportedly, he lived with her in a cave while stealing fine horses from the English and selling them in the North of Scotland. After a while, he returned home to his wife but continued stealing horses. Once, when an English horse had been stolen, its owner went directly to Stirling Bridge where William (the Laird of Meikledale) was found riding it. William barely escaped hanging and died soon after returning home, leaving his wife with a son Adam and a daughter Lucy in embarrassed circumstances
. The son was obliged to sell Meikledale to his cousin, William Elliot of Arkleton and, in 1725, creditors forced Williams's son to sell Meikledale for 1900 pounds to Wiliam Scot(t) of Rowanburn (a great cattle drover). Sometime after 1742, William Scot(t) sold Meikledale to Mr. William Laing, who in turn left it to his youngest sister Margaret and her husband, William Elliot of Borthwickbrae (son of John Elliot of Borthwickbrae).
Both at home and overseas the old saying still holds, "If you see a Little a horse won't be far away". The descendants in England of Matthew Little, Baron Baillie of Langholm, [iii] kept up the Reiver cavalry tradition: General Sir Archibald Little, commanding officer 9th Lancers in the Indian Mutiny, his brother the dapper "Josey" Little, King's Dragoon Guards, who won the Grand National on 'Chandler' in 1848, and the General's sons, Archibald Cosmo Little, 5th Lancers and Brigadier Malcolm Orme Little. commanding officer 9th Lancers in the Boer War, and grandson Col. Malcolm A. A. Little, Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) killed in action in Italy in 1944.
In the World Wars of the 20th century stirrups gave way to the wings of "the cavalry of the air ".[iv] At least three sons of the old time reiving Little clan achieved distinction in aerial warfare, while a fourth was decorated for high courage test flying experimental aircraft.
The demi lyon of the Little chiefs' crest holds a sword in one paw and St Andrew's cross in the other. An impressive number of descendants of the ancient Eskdale clan became clergy or doctors on the one hand or cavalrymen and military airmen on the other, hence the winged stirrup in the Clan Society's arms. The Janus headed nature of the clan is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the lives of two twentieth century sons of the Border clan, both by coincidence born in Melbourne, Australia. Fighter pilot Robert Alexander Little RNAS, DSC and Bar, DSO and Bar, CdeG with Star. killed in action in France in May 1918 at the age of 22, ranks in the top 15 Aces of all the combatant nations of the Great War of 1914-18, and is Australia's Ace of Aces. The Cross is represented by The Right Reverend Thomas Francis Little, recently retired 6th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.
James Crawford Little of Morton Rigg, known affectionately as Dr. Johnnie, was born on May 22, 1922 at Maxwelltown (the West side of the River Nith) just seven years before it was merged with Dumfries (the East side of the River Nith). He studied medicine under Sir Martin Roth in Newcastle upon Tyne and then went to Leeds (the setting of the popular television series DCI Banks). He was the consulting psychiatrist at St. James Hospital from 1959 to 1966, while it adjusted to having psychiatry offered in general hospitals instead of stigmatized asylums. He married Catherine Eliza Salt (b. 1926) and lectured at the University of Leeds, developing a portfolio of publications.
In 1966, he left Leeds in Yorkshire to return to Dumfries as the Director of Clinical Research at the Crichton Royal Hospital. He was the Secretary of the Society of Clinical Psychiatrists and his honorifics include M.D. (Doctor of Medicine from the University of Bristol), D.P.M. (Doctorate of Psychological Medicine from Durham University), F.R.C.P. (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians), F.R.C.Psych. (Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists), and F.S.A. (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland). Here are some of his professional publications:
Behind the depressive syndrome. British Medical Journal, 1(726) March 5, 1960.
Estimate of risks. British Medical Journal, 1(1478) May 26, 1962.
Develoment of a psychiatric unit in a large general hospital. The Lancet. 281(7277), pp. 376-377. February 16, 1963. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(63)92727-2; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7277.]
A psychiatric unit in a large general hospital. The Lancet. 281(7281), p. 610. March 16, 1963. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(63)92727-2; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7281.]
A case of primary addiction to meprobamate. British Medical Journal, 2(794) September 28, 1963.
A rational plan for integration of psychiatric sevices to an urban community. The Lancet. 282(7318), pp. 1159-1160. November 30, 1963. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(63)90809-2; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7318.]
Integration of psychiatric services to an urban community. The Lancet. 283(7328), p. 333. February 8, 1964. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(64)92455-9; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7328.]
Housebound. The Lancet. 283(7343), pp. 1163-1164. May 23, 1964. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(64)91843-4]; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7343.]
Psychiatry as a medical speciality. The Lancet, 285(7388), p. 769. April 3, 1965. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(65)92137-9; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7388.]
Fallacies of medical education. The Lancet, 290(7520), p. 839. October 14 1967. [Originally published as volume 2, issue 7520.]
Objectivity in clinical psychiatric research. The Lancet. 292(7577), pp. 1072-1075. November 16, 1968. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(68)91545-6; Originally published as volume 2, issue 7577.]
The athlete's neurosis: A deprivation crisis. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 45(2), pp. 187-197. 1969.
The evaluation of clinical phenomena in psychiatry. Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Journal. 292 pp. 191-197. 1969.
Foundation fellowships. The Lancet, 298(7732), p. 103. November 6, 1971. [Originally published as volume 2, issue 7732.]
Psychiatrists' attitudes to abortion. British Medical Journal, 1(110) January 8, 1972.
Abortion: Changing attitudes of psychiatrists. The Lancet, 299(7741), p. 97. January 8, 1972. [Originally published as volume 2, issue 7741.]
with T. A. Kerr, & H. A. McClelland. Where are the untreated depressives? British Medical Journal, 1(1593) June 17, 1972.
with J. J. Kear Colwell, and A. T. Lloyd. Psychiatry in a general hospital (with foreword by Sir Martin Roth). St. Louis, MO: Butterworth-Heinemann. 1974. [ISBN: 978-0407366909]
with E. R. Alexander, and D. J. Hall. Characteristics of male psychiatric patients admitted from contrasting urban and rural populations in Scotland. Unpublished study.
A thousand years: The Littles and their forebears. The Scottish Genealogist: The Quarterly Journal of the Scottish Genealogy Society, 35(2), pp. 45-62. June 1988.
Suicide at Risley. British Medical Journal, 297(424) August 6, 1988.
This too is your heritage: Introduction to the Scots language. 1993. [ISBN: 978-0952127604]
The Clan Little window in Westerkirk parish church. 2003. [ISBN: 978-0952127611]
CLAN LITTLE SOCIETY
In 1974, Dr. Johnnie happened upon some family papers
, which aroused his curiosity about the history of the name Little. He took early retirement in 1981, partly to look after his ailing wife who lived until the year 2000. In his spare time, he undertook more research and prepared a lecture for the Scottish Genealogy Society, which he delivered on October 15, 1987. Soon after that, it was published as a journal article
That article was pointed out to Augustine Patterson Little III (Pat), a tax accountant from the American state of Georgia, by his wife Sally. They were already involved in Scottish heritage studies wtih the Clan MacLaren Society. Pat looked up Dr. Johnnie and tried to talk him into forming a group for people with the surname Little, a project in which he had absolutely no interest. However, by St. Andrew's Day (November 30) in 1991, he had been convinced to change his mind and established the Clan Little Society. He designed a tartan for the event, which is registered with the Scottish Tartan Authority
. It combines a toned down version of the Wallace red, black, and yellow design with the traditional border shepherd's black and white check pattern.
The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) would be held at the upcoming "Roots '93 Gathering," billed as the first-ever gathering of Border and Lowland clans. It included a series of events held between May 21st and 31st at Dumfries. In that same year, Dr. Johnnie received his ensigns armorial (coat of arms) from the Lord Lyon and John M. Mason, MBE (Member of the British Empire) wrote a march for the Clan entitled "The Reivers of Meikledale" with words by Captain A. C. Little.
Hear the March
At that gathering, it became apparent that Americans and Scots had different views of who should be a member of the Society. Dr. Johnnie thought that anyone who wanted to be a member of the Clan Little should demonstrate their relationship to the Scottish Littles by genealogical records. He knew this would keep the group pure and legitimate. The Americans thought anyone with an interest in the topic and the money to pay dues should be a member. They knew this would help the group grow and prosper.
They were both right, of course, but that did not prevent them from arguing back and forth and finally splitting apart. They even rejected the obvious and reasonable resolution of having two classes of membership—one for those who could demonstrate a family relationship, and another for those who supported the celebration of Scottish roots. On August 8, 1994, the Americans registered "The Clan Little Society, U.S.A., Ltd." as a non-profit corporation in Pat's home state of Georgia. On August 21, 2000, recognizing the opportunity to sign up new members in Canada, the organization changed its name to "Clan Little Society, North America, Ltd." It is classified as a 501(c)(7) social and recreational organization.
Dr. Johnnie was able to secure arms for the Clan Little Society from the Lord Lyon on 8th September 1997. The four linked red rings on a gold background represent the interlocked branches of the Society. The winged stirrup represents the prowess of the reivers as light horsemen. A silver St. Andrew's Cross on a black background is common to all Border Little arms, personal or corporate. That same year he petitioned for and received a guidon (standard), which recognizes arms bearing citizens who hold leadership positions.
The next year, on October 19, 1998, Augustine Pattterson Little III died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known as ALS or "Lou Gehrig's disease").
Leo William Little studied psychology at the University of Central Florida in his birthplace of Orlando, FL and then earned a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, where he spent the rest of his life. He used historical records to trace his lineage back to his great-great-grandfather Thomas Little, who was born in Alabama in 1816. Then, he "hit a brick wall." After testing his DNA at Family Tree DNA
, he identified three distant cousins. By pooling their family records, the cousins were able to trace their roots all the way back to 1680. He went on to establish the Little DNA Project
, which is stil active today.
He would discover many unique genealogical patterns, which bear titles such as L-193. In fact, all genetic findings by Family Tree DNA are named with the L in honor of our own Leo Little. On July 3, 2005, his work was highlighted in a TIME magazing article entitled "Can DNA Reveal Your Roots?" Leo was a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and the Austin Genealogical Society who continued his pioneering work until his death in the Spring of 2008.
After Dr. Johnnie's wife died in 2000, he continued to lead the Society to the best of his ability despite the physical and mental effects of advancing age. He lived alone shuttered up in his house, where he was found dead in May of 2007 just days before his 85th birthday. He had a grand funeral, to which several important people sent representatives.
For several years the "Clan Little Society, Scotland & Worldwide" was kept alive by its Quartermaster in Dundee, Ian Stewart Little. About a year after Dr. Johnnie's death, Ian and the society placed a marker near the site of the ancient clan that has been visited by many of us and enjoyed vicariously by all.
Ian Little arranged and hosted several AGMs and, in the Spring of 2013, arranged to have this very significant grave marker cleaned and restored:
Ian Little also led the successful effort to have the Clan Little Society represented at the 700th anniversary celebrations of the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn (when Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of Edward II) at Stirling.
In 2013, the Scottish branch of the Clan Little Society and its treasury of some two thousand pounds was delivered to the rightful heir to the title "Little of Morton Rigg." Nothing has been seen of that money, the member list, or the website since.
The Clan Little Society in New Zealand & Australia and another in North America are still going strong and their contact information is available using the buttons at the top of this page.
The Historic Scottish Building known as The Meikledale Farmhouse
is still where it was in 1736.
The ancient stone known as The Grey Wether
is still out on the lawn. It is five feet tall with a girth of about eight and a half feet, but seems to be on its side now. "The stone is a common greywacke, or whinstone of the Silurian series, rough and unhewn."
1 - James Moir, Ed. The Actis and Deidis of the Illustere and Vaileand Campioun Schir William Wallace Knicht of Ellerslie. Scottish Text Society. 1889. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons. (Back to text)
2 - George Chalmers, Caledonia: An historical and topographical account of North Britain from the most ancient to the present times, Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1890. Vol. 6, p. 488; citing Cosmo Innes. Liber Sancte Marie de Melros, Munimenta Vetustiora Monasterii de Melros (2 vols.), Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1837, Item 128. pp. 119-120. (Back to text)
3 - Cosmo Innes. Liber Sancte Marie de Melros, Munimenta Vetustiora Monasterii de Melros (2 vols.), Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1837, Item 39. pp. 30-33, specifically p. 32. (Back to text)
4 - Liber S. Thome de Aberbrothoc: Registorum Abbacie de Aberbrothoc pars prior, Registrum Vetus munimentaque eidem coetanea complectens 1178-1329 [The Book of St. Thomas of Arbroath from the Registry of Arbroath Abbey, Part 1: The Old Register, 1178-1329]. 1848. Edinburgh: ASIN:B002EWX0D6, p. 96. (Back to text)
5 - David Laing, Registrum Domus de Soltre: Necnon ecclesie collegiate S. Trinitatis prope Edinburgh, etc. [Charters of the Hospital of Soltre, of Trinity College, Edinburgh, and other collegiate churches in Mid Lothian]. 1861. Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, p. 19. (Back to text)
6 - Joseph Bain, ed. Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland preserved in Public Records Office. 4 vol. 1881-84. Edinburgh: Vol. 3, Doc. 1420. (Back to text)
7 - Caithness and Sutherland records. Miscellaneous documents. (Vol. 1). London, 1909, p. 105. (Back to text)
8 - Registrum honoris de Morton: A series of ancient charters of the earldom of Morton, with other original papers. 2 vol. 1853. Edinburgh, Vol. 2, pp. 55-56. No. 71. (Back to text)
9 - George Burnett (Ed.) Rotuli scaccarii regum scotorum [The exchequer rolls of Scotland], v. 1-23 1264-1600. Edinburgh, 1878-1908, p. 563. (Back to text)
10 - Registrum honoris de Morton<: A series of ancient charters of the earldom of Morton, with other original papers. 2 vol. 1853. Edinburgh, Vol. 2, p. 16. (Back to text)
11 - Rymer's Foedera with Syllabus, (Vol. 8, Oct-Dec, 1398), p. 58. (Back to text)
12 - David Laing, Registrum Domus de Soltre: Necnon ecclesie collegiate S. Trinitatis prope Edinburgh, etc. [Charters of the Hospital of Soltre, of Trinity College, Edinburgh, and other collegiate churches in Mid Lothian]. 1861. Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, p. xliv. (Back to text)
13 - John D. Hyslop & Robert Hyslop. Langholm as it was: A history of Langholm and Eskdale from the earliest time. 1912. Sunderland: Hills & Co., p. 209. (Back to text)
14 - Donald Campbell Little. Descendants of Col. John Little, Esq., of Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. 1951. Edwardsville, KS: Forest Lake. (Back to text)
15 - Robert Bruce Armstrong. The history of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchopedale, and the Debateable Land. Pt. I. From the Twelfth Century to 1530. 1883, D. Douglas. Clan Douglas Society. Appendix IV. (Back to text)
16 - Sir William Fraser (compiler). Inventory of the Maxwell Muniments at Terregles, 1276-1669. 1865. p. 6, No. 27. (Back to text)
17 - L. Jessie Wilsmore, (Ed.) Fragmentary memories of bygone days, modes and manners. 1913. Woking & London, UK:Unwin Brothers/Gresham Press. (Back to text)
18 - George MacDonald Fraser. The steel bonnets: The story of the Anglo-Scottish border reivers. 1971. London: Barrie & Jenkins. (Back to text)
19 - Keith M. Brown et al, (Eds.) The records of the parliaments of Scotland to 1707, (St. Andrews, 2007-2016), Item 1587/7/70 [cf. NAS, PA2/13, ff. 105r-108b]. Based upon Thomas Thomson and Cosmo Innes, (Eds.) The acts of the parliaments of Scotland 1124-1707 in 12 folio volumes. House of Commons, Edinburgh, 1814-1875 which, in turn, is based upon Sir John Skene of Curriehill, The lawes and actes of parliament. Robert Waldegrave, Edinburgh, 1597. (Back to text)
20 - Robert Riddle Stodart. Scottish arms: Being a collection of armorial bearings, A.D. 1370-1678, reproduced in facsimile from contemporary manuscripts, with heraldic and genealogical notes (Vol. 2). Edinburgh: William Paterson. 1881. Citing memoranda supplied by Robert Bruce Armstrong. p. 244. (Back to text)
21 - L. Jessie Wilsmore, (Ed.) Fragmentary memories of bygone days, modes and manners. 1913. Woking & London, UK:Unwin Brothers/Gresham Press. (Back to text)
22 - Edward J. Cowan, ed. Chronicles of Muckledale: Being the memoirs of Thomas Beattie of Muckledale, 1736-1827. (Back to text)
23 - John D. Hyslop & Robert Hyslop. Langholm as it was: A history of Langholm and Eskdale from the earliest time. 1912. Sunderland: Hills & Co. (Back to text)
24 - William Little of Liverpool & Windermere. Family papers called Border Records – Lytil, undated, probably in the late 19th Century. (Back to text)
25 - J. C. Little. A thousand years: The Littles and their forebears. The Scottish Genealogist: The Quarterly Journal of the Scottish Genealogy Society, 35(2), pp. 45-62. June 1988. (Back to text)
26 - "Little of Morton Rigg" clan tartan, ITI number 2349 (1991). Slog: KWK:YKR, Colour Sequence: KWKWKRKRKY. (Back to text)
27 - John D. Hyslop & Robert Hyslop. Langholm as it was: A history of Langholm and Eskdale from the earliest time. 1912. Sunderland: Hills & Co., p. 52. (Back to text)