Clan Boyd

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One of the earliest recordings of Clan Boyd was at the Battle of Largs /Ayrshire against the Vikings in 1263.

Sir Robert Boyd served as a commander for Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn/Stirlingshire in 1314. Bruce rewarded Sir Robert, for his bravery in battle, lands confiscated from Bruce’s Scottish rivals the Balliols. These lands were at Kilmarnock, Girvan, Portencross and other parts of Ayrshire.

Dean Castle

1350s, the Boyd’s began building Dean Castle at Kilmarnock /Ayrshire. Dean became their main seat with the castle being expanded over the years into what can be seen today.

Portencross Castle

1400s early, Boyd’s build Portencross Castle on the shore at Seamill south of Largs in Ayrshire on land gifted to them by Bruce. Portencross Castle was built to make use of the small harbour there.

Law Castle

1467, The Boyd’s continued support of Scottish Kings led to them having exceptionally close links to the royals for many years. Thomas Boyd married King James II sister Princess Mary, gaining the title Earl of Arran. Law Castle overlooking West Kilbride in Ayrshire was built for Thomas Boyd and Princess Mary at that time.

The marriage of Thomas Boyd to Princess Mary soon began rumours the Boyd’s had ambitions of gaining the throne of Scotland. In 1469, Lord Boyd, his son Thomas, and his brother Alexander, were summoned before the king and parliament to face charges brought against them.

Fearing an unfair trial and execution, Lord Boyd fled to England. Thomas, in Europe at the time, decided to remain in Europe where he was safe. Alexander, the only one to face trial, was executed for treason.

Princess Mary returned to Scotland in an attempt to have her husband cleared of the charges. The king detained her on arrival until he procured an annulment of her marriage. Princess Mary later married Lord Hamilton.

Thomas Boyd is thought to have died in Europe in the early 1470s.

James Boyd, 2nd Lord Boyd, was killed in 1484, aged 16, by Lord Montgomery.

Robert Boyd, 4th Lord Boyd, slew Patrick Montgomery in 1523, and Sir Neil Montgomery in 1547.

The 5th Lord Boyd reached a settlement with the Montgomerys' in 1561, ending the feud that had lasted 77 years.

Robert Boyd, 5th Lord Boyd, fought on the side of Mary Queen of Scots at the battle of Langside in 1568.

Marys' defeat in that battle lead to her fleeing to England, where she was welcomed for some time by her relation, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary was arrested in England in 1586 after being accused of trying to claim her right to the English throne. She was beheaded in February 1587 for treason. Mary is buried in Westminster Abbey, next to Queen Elizabeth I, the person that had her executed.


1500s early, Penkill Castle (right) was built three miles northeast of Girvan for Adam Boyd. Trochrague House (below) three miles north of Girvan, was built a few years later for his son James.

Trochrague House

The Boyd’s fought on the side of King Charles I (Princess Mary’s grandson, King of Scotland and England) in the English Civil War. Charles I was eventually overthrown by the English Parliamentarian leader Cromwell and beheaded in 1649.

The third Earl of Kilmarnock opposed the Stuart claim to the English throne during the rising of 1715 against George I, Hanover (of German decent who succeeded Queen Anne, daughter of James II to the English throne).

The 4th Earl, William Boyd, fought for Prince Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender) in an attempt to overthrow George II, Hanover. Prince Charles appointed him a member of the Privy Council with the rank of general. The fourth Earls capture at the Battle of Culloden 16 April 1746, led to a trial at the Tower of London, followed by his beheading on Tower Hill on the 18th August 1746.

John Walkinshaw Craufurd, 20th Laird of Craufurdland Castle, only two miles from Dean Castle, supported the house of Hanover at that time. Craufurd though had remained a friend of the Jacobite William Boyd. He accompanied William Boyd to the scaffold in London as an act of comradeship. He received the earl’s severed head, and arranged his funeral.

Although the Boyd titles were confiscated at that time, the 4th Earl's son James, was able to reclaim the estate as he had fought on the Government side.

James sold Dean castle around that time, with the castle having a number of different owners over the following centuries.

James inherited the Earldom of Erroll from his mother around that time, and took the name Hay.

When the 22nd Earl of Erroll died without a male heir in 1941, his daughter became the Countess of Erroll and Chief of Clan Hay, while her brother changed his name back to Boyd, becomming 6th Lord Kilmarnock and Chief of Clan Boyd.

Alastair Boyd, 7th Lord Kilmarnock from 1975, died in 2009 aged 81. His heir is the elder of his two sons, Simon John Boyd, born in 1978, who has a son, Lucian Michael Boyd born in 2007.

The last private owner of Dean Castle, Howard De Walden, gifted the castle and its contents to the people of Kilmarnock in 1975. Dean has since served as a Country Park with free entry. Dean Castle Photo Tour.

Law Castle was restored in the 1990s by an Englishman. The castle can now be booked for self contained holidays, weddings and corporate events. Website.

Portencross Castle has recently been restored to serve as a visitor attraction. There is a car park, picnic area and scenic seaside walk close to the castle.

Penkill Castle was sold by Evelyn May Courtney Boyd in 1978 to an Elton A Ecstrand from Michigan USA. The property is now said to be owned by the famed movie producer Patrick Drumgoole.

Trochrague House is now run by a religious order that offers holidays to people with special needs.

The Boyds', over the centuries, were related through marriage to other Ayrshire Clans such as the Campbells' of Loudoun and Montgomerys' of Eglinton.

The Boyds' were known for local fueds with the Montgomerys' of Eglinton west of Kilmarnock, and Mures' of Rowallan north of Kilmarnock.

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