Doigs Digest 2014



I cannot but condemn the carelessness, not to say ingratitude, of those who can give no better account of the place where their fathers and their grandfathers were born.
Thomas Fuller 1662

The origins of the name DOIG are naturally obscured by time.     A book of Scottish surnames suggest that many names were derived from animals and that of Doig is one such, originating from dog.     However, the authoritative work of Black1 defines the name as given to a servant "Gille dog" of St. Cadoc or Cadog with variations given as Dog, Doge, Dogg and Doig.     It is also suggested that it is an apheretic form of Cadog, the first syllable being dropped.      There is confusion by various authorities 2&3 between a Welsh St. Cadoc of the sixth century and a Scottish one, but both suggest that a St. Cadoc founded a monastery at Cambuslang (now in southern Glasgow).      Reaney4 in his book repeats this source and gives other spellings such as Doag, Doeg and Doak.

Black, who gives many examples with the name variations, states that the names appear often on record, almost always in the neighbourhood of places in which Cadoc was commemorated.     Several landed families were found in the Kilmadock District near Doune, South Perthshire and quotes an Alexander Dog - a canon of Inchmahome Priory on an island in Lake Menteith in 1491.        Sources on the clan system of Scotland such as Scarlett5 list Doig as a sept of the Clan Drummond, placing them in the South Perthshire area.

It is said that Doigs assisted in setting caltrops (spikes) at the battle of Bannockburn. It is known that Sir Malcolm de Drymen (Drummond) of Stirlingshire had this role in the battle.     It may be that Doigs were some of "the sma folk" who assisted, but "The Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands"6 does not mention the surname as a sept of any clan.

Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk in his clan map of King James VI of Scotland (1567-1625) shows the name Doig in the area west of the Drummonds (and of Blair Drummond Castle ) i.e. near Menteith and lists Doig as a family connected with Graham of Menteith.     This would certainly make them 'locals' to the Bannockburn battle area, albeit some 250 years later. Nevertheless, it is certain that Doigs were also well established in Forfarshire.     A Burgess family of Doigs held property in Brechin in the early 1500's and in this town some were Chief Magistrates between 1700-1741.     An Alexander Doge was vicar of Dunnychtyne (Dunnichen) in 1372 and a further Alexander Dog or Doge was also vicar there in the period 1449-1450. Black's examples indicate that the 'Doig' variation apparently began to appear in the early 16th century. Of interest is a Thomas Dog leasing land in Craigmakerane (Craigmakerran, Tayside) in 1585, whereas the same land in 1644 is recorded as being leased to Thomas Doig. A David Dog var.     Doig is given as being a messenger in Forfar from 1653 to 1667.    A David Doig was born in 1719 in Menteith, Forfarshire, the son of a small farmer7.      Classed as a Philologist he attended St. Andrews University, taught at Monifieth, Kennoway and Falkland before becoming Rector of Stirling Grammar School. He was a master of languages i.e. Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic. Besides his writings, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and was a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica.      He died on 16th March 1800.   

Two personal observations reinforce the Forfarshire connection.         In the Churchyard of St. Vigeans near Arbroath, a tombstone near the gate gives the following information :- "William Doig, Wright, Arbroath, - In memory of his wife Isabella Cameron born 10.11.1788, died 22.9.1851 age 63 years".     To which is added "also William Doig died 8.10.1871 age 78 years". No birth date is given but it would obviously be 1793.         In the Angus Folk Museum, Glamis, there is a preserved document "Enrolment List" taken on 7th December 1808 for the 8th Company of the Central Regiment of the Forfarshire Local Voluneers (Dunnichen Volunteers).      Included in this list is a George Doig age 24, thus making a birth date of 1784.     He is described as being 5' 7", of dark complexion, black hair and grey eyes.     His occupation is given as a shoemaker.     All other volunteers were from the weaving trades.

Registration of births and marriages for Scotland between 1538-18758 confirm the main areas of distribution as Angus, Fife, Perthshire, and Stirlingshire with very few or no examples of the name or variations in other areas.                                         The family name certainly travelled across to Canada. In British Columbia, north of Fort St. John is the Doig River First Nations community, an Indian reservation area.      The river Doig was first called Raft River but in 1912 the river was renamed 'Doig' after a surveyor and no other details are known of him.      There is also a Doig Anchorage located on the north west side of Princess Royal Island.     This was named after a David Doig who was a manager of the British North America Bank 9

There is no family connection established in any of the above examples but it is interesting to note that Alexander Doig of our family line was also a boot and shoe-maker.     The area is however, noted for being a centre of the boot and shoemaking trade (Arbroath Museum).        Dunnichen is now a small village about half a mile from Letham, barely marked on modern road maps, yet in the nineteenth century was evidently a major centre, as the above example shows and as will be noted later in the registration of births in the family of Alexander Doig.         Letham village was founded in 1788 by wealthy landowner and banker George Dempster from the 66 acre farm of Letham.      He expected the village to provide tradesmen for his Dunnichen Estate and that each family would become involved in the handloom weaving of linen.      The linen trade prospered for several decades before giving way to the powerlooms of the towns.     At the Bicentenary of the village in 1988 it was claimed to be the biggest village in Angus with a population of just under 1000.

Fairburn describes the Doig family crest as follows :- "A falcon, wings expanded and inverted, belled, ppr."