My latest discoveries in the exploration of my ancestry – people who lived in Scotland in the 1500’s. These names in the Miller chain are new to me. In a glass door bookcase in our house in Belmont Mass. where I grew up, there were 2 blue genealogical books. One for the Miller line, the other for the Murdock line – both lines on my father’s side. I had a fascination for browsing these books and reading about the ancestors recorded therein. One record that always stuck in my mind was that of an ancestor named Sen Miller who emigrated from Scotland to come to North America. He settled in Charlestown. His son either came with him or followed. Also I had the impression that they had originated on the Isle of Skye. Now thanks to Ancestry.com I have discovered additional evidence of Scottish ancestry. James and John Melvin are my 8x and 9x Great Grandfathers.
This name MELVIN derives its name from a place ‘Melville’ in Midlothian. These lands were the earliest possession of the family, from where they took their name. Early records of the name mention Hugh de Malleville, 1202, Scotland. Gregory de Malville, granted the monks of Newbattle, the passage through his lands of Retrevyn in the year 1264. On August 31st 1786, the Admiralty announced the first fleet of Convicts were to be taken to Australia. There were in all eleven vessels. It was an eight month passage, and 1,500 people were to travel. It was overcrowded, the prisoner’s quarters had no portholes or sidelights, the lower decks were as dark as the grave, and lanterns were banned for fear of fire. The first convicts were loaded from Woolwich docks on 6th January 1787, men and women separated. They were kept on board for several months, mostly all petty criminals, forced to crime by a pitiful necessity. It was not until the evening of May 12th, 1787, the first ship weighed anchor, and the ships finally sailed on Sunday May 13th at 3 am. A gentleman called Robert Melville from London, had a book stolen from him, and a small boy named William Francis, was one of the young men sent for 7 years transportation. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Rear Admiral George W Melville (1841-1912) U.S.N. Artic Explorer, was the grandson of a Scot from Stirling. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.