Saturday, October 12, 2013

From Ravens to Greyhounds--the story of the Houston Coat of Arms

My 25th great grandfather was from the village of Padinan near Lanarkshire, east of Kilpeter.  Because people didn't have surnames, he was known as Sir Hugo of Padinan or Hugh of Padinan.  In 1153 he was granted Barony in Strathgryfe.  Strathgryfe means valley of the rapid river because it was where the Clyde River and the Strathgryfe River met.  Baldwin de Bigger (see note 1) granted Hugh the deeds to the land.

Hugh did something unusual with this land.  In a time when the only thing certain was violent upheavals, he decided to build a castle.    He built his castle on the sloping hill.  It was rated by historians as one of the strongest in all of Lanarkshire (see note 2).  He looked over his land and said

"This is my realm--on this spot 
I shall build my castle!"

How the castle looks today.

He kept the serfs and tenants already living on the land and brought in more.  Evidence suggests they were loyal to him and respected him because he treated them fairly.  He built their homes close to the castle so that when the English attacked they could take refuge inside the castle.  This group of homes became known as Hugh's town, which eventually became the village called Houston.

While Hugh was a Scottish Baron, this didn't mean he was of nobility like a Baron would be in England.  A Scottish Baron was just someone at the top of the feudal chain.  He would have been called Lord or Laird because he owned the land.  

Around 1160 the king of Scotland, Malcom IV found himself and his army in trouble.  Hugh came to the rescue.

He lifted the young king from the clutches of his enemy and took him to safety.  The grateful king knighted his rescuer who was then known as Sir Hugh.  Because of this, the king ordered that his coat of arms be changed to include two greyhounds surrounding the ravens on both sides with a winged hourglass showing the sands almost gone.  Above is a ribbon with the words "In Tempore" meaning arrived in time (see note 3).

Does this mean that our family should always be on time?  I hope not!

To find out what happened to the Houston clan, click here.  

Note 1: Baldwin the Bigger was possibly his father-in-law and was the Count of Flanders and the 1st King Sheriff of Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Scotland   
Note 2: Lanarkshire later became known as Renfrewshire.
Note 3: Most of the information for this story was written by Cleburne Huston and can be found in the book, "The Ancestors and Descendants of James Houston and Margaret Crawford," pages 32-34.

This post features:

Hugh de Pad'inan (1133-1189)

my 25th great grandfather

me-->Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan-->Alice Houston Rasmussen-->John Cooper Houston-->James Houston, Jr.-->James Houston, Sr.-->John Houston-->John Houston-->Gavin Houston-->William Houston-->Patrick Houston IV-->Ludovic Houston-->Sir John Houston--> Sir Patrick Houston III of that Ilk-->Sir John Houstoun II-->Knight Patrick Houstoun II-->Peter Houstoun-->John Houstoun I-->Patrick Houstoun I-->John de Houstoun-->John de Houstoun-->Robert de Houstoun-->Sir de Houstoun-->Finlay de Houstoun-->Sir de Houstoun of Houstoun Castle-->Sir Alexander Houstoun-->Hugh de Houstoun-->Reginald de Houstoun-->Hugh De Pad'inan


  1. How did you trace your line all the way back like that? I'm told I'm part of this line through Sam Houston, but I can't even trace every generation back to him, let alone all the way back to Hugh.

  2. all Houstons from the British Isles are descended from Hugh De Pad'inan (Padvinan) (Paduinan) spelling was more fluid way back then.
    the problem is that record keeping ealier than say 1500 was irregular, unless the person was very high on the pecking order. So royals and other great lords are easier to research but the lines descending from minor nobility are very sketchy.

  3. If you are a descendant of Sam Houston Jr. (of Texas Independence) or Sam Houston Sr. (Daniel Morgan's Virginia Rifle Brigade), then you want to read this book. John Houston, gentleman, is our mutual immigrant ancestor.

    The Raven: A Biography of Sam Houston
    University of Texas Press, 1988

    THE vessel seemed off her course, and the crew grumbled about its work while a troubled landsman paced the quarterdeck. The Captain was below in irons, the passengers on their knees in the waist thanking God that matters were no worse which easily might have been. But for a chance discovery and a bold plan carried boldly through, who could say what should have been their fate at the hands of the wicked mariner to whom they had entrusted their lives and their fortunes?

    The fortunes were at the root of the trouble. At Belfast too many kegs of gold sovereigns had gone on board under the meditative eye of the Master. It was uncommon for emigrants to be so well fixed. Half-seas-over the situation got the best of the Skipper, But his buccaneering plot was found out, and the passengers overwhelmed the ringleaders and took charge of the ship. One of their number said he understood enough navigation to bring her
    into Philadelphia.

    That had happened eight days ago, and a landfall was overdue. But prayer fortified the voyagers' spirits, and surely enough, before the day was out, a seaman cried, **Land and the South River capes spread into view.

    When the ship came to berth a thick-set man in middle life, with silver buckles on his shoes, stepped ashore with his mother, his wife and six children. The family of "John Houston, Gent.," descendants of baronets, whose ancestors were in the company of Scottish archers that led the way for Jeanne d'Arc from Orleans
    to Reims, stood on the wharf and saw their keg of sovereigns safely on the soil of the New World, in the year 1730.