Author Topic: Shank(s) family history  (Read 304 times)

Offline SamuelScotus

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Shank(s) family history
« on: Friday 05 October 18 01:40 BST (UK) »
Does anyone have any information or sources of the origins of the Shank(s) family? I’ve heard that the Scottish origin of the surname comes from a place called the Land of Shank, Midlothian and that the s was later added because it sounded nicer than the harsh sounding “Shank” my branch of Shanks seems to have strong roots in Lanarkshire. I’m wondering if anyone has information of when the family moved here or if they have always been here? Or any information on how the “Land of Shank” got it’s name or if such a place really existed.

I’m looking to gather as much information as I can about anything Shank(s) related. Unlike other Scottish clans the information for the Shanks family seems to be very sparse, unfortunately.

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Offline Forfarian

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Re: Shank(s) family history
« Reply #1 on: Friday 05 October 18 08:49 BST (UK) »
G F Black's The Surnames of Scotland says, "Shank of that Ilk, an ancient family in Midlothian, derive their name from lands of that name there". The earliest documentary reference is to Murdoch Shank, "an immediate son of Shank of that Ilk" in 1319 in Fife. Black cites a reference to a Schankis in Ayrshire in 1426, one in 1474 in Glasgow, so the name was known in Lanarkshire several centuries ago. Whether the actual people referred to were descendants of the Shank(s) family that originated in Midlothian, or whether their surname was an abbreviation of something else, such as Longshanks or Crookshanks, is impossible to say.

You might like to take a look at
https://archive.org/stream/genealogist01lond/genealogist01lond_djvu.txt
which contains a long section which is, I think, at least partly intended to debunk Black's idea about the origin of the surname and of the family.

I very much doubt that anyone consciously added the 's' to the name. Spelling of names was a very inexact science until the 20th century, and you will probably find the same individual with various different spellings. Black mentions references to a Stephen Shanks, spelled Schankis in 1488 and Synkis in 1490.

There are lots of places in Scotland which are either called Shank, or whose name includes the word Shank.

The one you are interested in is probably the one in the parish of Borthwick. See
https://canmore.org.uk/site/234686/shank-house
http://www.stravaiging.com/history/castle/shank-house

There are photographs of the immediate surroundings, including Shank Bridge, at
http://www.geograph.org.uk/gridref/NT3361

As for 'clans', please get that notion out of your head. The clans were a social feature of the Gaelic-speaking Highlands, and Midlothian is firmly in the Lowlands. Your Shanks ancestors four or five hundred years ago would probably have been horrified had anyone suggested to them that they had anything to do with any Highland clan, all of whom they would have regarded as dangerous savages.

Unfortunately the Brigadoon industry, exemplified by https://www.houseofnames.com/?nav=yes  and https://forebears.co.uk/surnames/shank has successfully peddled the erroneous idea that every Scot belongs to a clan, no doubt sending many a descendant of a good solid Lowland family off on a wild goose chase after tenuous and historically unreliable connections to one Highland clan or another. All of these Brigadoon industry web sites have gleaned what information they have from The Surnames of Scotland.
Researching

AITKENHEAD, Lanarkshire; BINNY, Forfar; BLACK, New Monkland; BRYSON, Cumbernauld; BURGESS, North-East Scotland; CRUICKSHANK, Rothes; DALLAS, Botriphnie; DAVIDSON, Oyne; GUTHRIE, Angus; HOGG, Larbert; LESLIE, Rothes/Mortlach; MENDUM, England; MOLLISON, Lethnot; PATERSON, Larbert; RHIND, Forfar; SANG, Scotland; SCOTT, East Kilbride; STOR(R)I/E/Y, Shotts; THORNTON, Shotts; WADDELL, New Monkland; WILKIE, New Monkland; WILKIE, Tannadice; WYLLIE, Angus; YOUNG, Keith

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Offline SamuelScotus

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Re: Shank(s) family history
« Reply #2 on: Friday 05 October 18 09:36 BST (UK) »
Thank you for all the information, I really appreciate it.

By adding the ‘s’ onto the name I meant I had read that it happened a while ago, notice how the name supposedly began with Murdoch Shank and later became Shankis and then Shanks.

And by Clan I didn’t mean a modern interpretation of the word Clan, I meant simply family or kin.

Offline Forfarian

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Researching

AITKENHEAD, Lanarkshire; BINNY, Forfar; BLACK, New Monkland; BRYSON, Cumbernauld; BURGESS, North-East Scotland; CRUICKSHANK, Rothes; DALLAS, Botriphnie; DAVIDSON, Oyne; GUTHRIE, Angus; HOGG, Larbert; LESLIE, Rothes/Mortlach; MENDUM, England; MOLLISON, Lethnot; PATERSON, Larbert; RHIND, Forfar; SANG, Scotland; SCOTT, East Kilbride; STOR(R)I/E/Y, Shotts; THORNTON, Shotts; WADDELL, New Monkland; WILKIE, New Monkland; WILKIE, Tannadice; WYLLIE, Angus; YOUNG, Keith