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Laing in the Howe of Fife
by Robert A. Laing of Colington

The Laing family, found in the Howe of Fife all seem to descend from the branch in Auchtermuchty, established there by the 16th Century. The family also appears in Ayr (on the West Coast), spreading to Abdie (Newburgh), Falkland, Strathmiglo and Kettle in Fife and also elsewhere (including Dundee and Aberdeen). The main sources in this early period are the Registrum secreti sigillum regum Scotorum (RSS) and the Registrum magni sigilli regum Scotorum (RMS). No LAING entries (in Fife) appear in RMS before 1586 although this starts in 1306. The references used here are derived from the index, where the spelling has been sanitised with the spelling given as LAING. Church records are rare in this early period so shortly after the Reformation. Until the 17th Century these have numerous gaps, which makes reconstruction a major problem. It will be necessary to work with the Register of Sasines. This will be an expensive hurdle - no indexes exist and this will require the work of a specialist researcher who can cope with not only the Latin text but also the script. NOTE: For ease of reference the main figures will be distinguished by Latin numerals.

Patrick (I) LAYNG, RSS 1526.

Patrick (II) LAYNG, RSS 1579 ‘at the horn’; RSS 1580 ‘remission.’

John (I) LAING ‘in Auchtermuchtie’, RMS 1586/1041 & 1587/1372. NOTE: The first number refers to the year and the second to the charter.  He may have married a daughter of Stephen PATERSON 'of the Myris, in the lands of the Myris, Over and Nether' and his wife Elizabeth MURE.  He appears to have had three sons:

John (II) LAING ‘in Over Myres & Auchtermuchty’ RMS 1611/489; ‘Portioner of Auchtermuchtie’ RMS 1611/566 & 1616/1397; ‘of Auchtermuchtie’ RMS 1631/1702, 1631/1707 & 1631/1714. It is possible that he married a daughter of Richard STARK, Elder, Portioner of Auchtermuchtie whose Testament is dd. 1618. He had three sons: NOTE: It is strange that the name Patrick disappears in the IGI in the 1760’s with the last Patrick marrying at Auchtermuchty in 1762. It seems to have been replaced by Peter, with the first baptism in 1766. There are no entries for the name Stephen in the Fife IGI.

Richard (I) LAING ‘in Over Myres’ RMS 1631/1702. He is the first known Richard LAING found in Fife and is probably the same person as Ritchard LAING who married Christen DRUMMOND; and had issue:

NOTE: From this time the personal name ‘Richard’ becomes a genealogical marker of the branch that would become ‘Laing of Colington’. According to G. Hamilton Edwards ‘In search of Scottish ancestry’ Richard is the 28th most common male personal name in Scotland. All those with the name in the IGI can be taken back to this family.

NOTE: It is highly likely that either Alexander or Thomas is the father of Allexander LAYNG who baptises children at Abdie 1691-1701, viz.: Thomas 1691, Allexander 1693, Anna 1695, Jannett 1697 & Patrick 1701 (all LAYNG). The twins are called after Alexander GUDDELL and Margaret LAING (see above). This combination is used later for a set of twins in the Strathmiglo branch, which produced numerous sets of identical and fraternal twins. Our branch has also produced several sets of identical male twins. Descendants of the Abdie family came to the Cape in the early 19th Century. They were ‘kin’ of Richard Laing who arrived with his family in Cape Town, December 1820.

Richard (II) LAYNG, married Auchtermuchty 6 July 1660 Jannet WILLIAMSONE; and had issue:

Richard (III) LAYING, procl. Auchtermuchty 30 Apr 1709, married there 3 June 1709 Agnes MAXWELL (possibly d.o. James MAXWELL and Margarat LAYNG); Agnes was the widow of James MELVILLE of Balgarvie by whom she had earlier issue - a dau. Isabel MELVILLE was grandmother of Isobel WILSON who appears later; Richard and Agnes had issue: Richard (IV) LAYING, bap. Auchtermuchty 15 June 1710; marries as Richard LAYNG at Abdie 17 Sep 1736, his cousin Margaret RODGER (who appears above). They had issue: James (I) LAYNG, bap. Auchtermuchty 1 Apr 1750, marries as James LAING at Kettle 8 Dec 1775, Christian LITSTER (d.o. James LITSTER, Elder at Cults and Ann ARNOT); and had issue: NOTE: There is no baptismal record for Christian or her eldest brother the Rev. James LISTER, MA, Minister of Auchtermuchty. NOTE: At some time in the latter half of the 18th century the LAYNGs moved away from Auchtermuchty. Family tradition has it that this happened because leases were not renewed. Now at that time land was held on long leases of up to 99 years. Two such leases would take us back to John (I) LAING. I have never been able to establish the veracity of this tradition.

Richard (V) LAING, born Riggs, Fife 11 May 1779, bap Kettle, Fife 16 May 1779; living in Methilhill, near Wemyss, Fife in 1805. From 1807 to 1814 he is mentioned in the OPR as "in Kirkland" also at Wemyss; came to the Cape of Good Hope with his family 2 Dec 1820, living at Blaauwberg, Cape in 1837; date and place of his death unknown; married at Markinch, Fife. 13 Nov 1801, his second cousin Isobel WILSON (d.o. William WILSON, Confectioner at Cupar, Fife and Margaret COLE); born after 1777, alive at the Cape in 1823; they had issue:

NOTE: The names of the children of Richard (V) LAING are a classic ‘textbook’ case illustrating the Scottish naming pattern. The parents and grandparents all had different names. Thus we have the eldest son called after f.f., 2nd after m.f. and 3rd after father. The eldest daughter is called after m.m., 2nd after f.m. and 3rd after mother. This naming pattern is most useful in determining sequences of children where no dates are available. It is also useful in establishing a missing child.

James (II) LAING of Colington; born ? Kennoway January 1802, died Koeberg, Darling 15 Aug 1889; Arms confirmed by a grant from the Lord Lyon, L.R. Vol 53, p. 55, 18 Sep 1984 - making him and his successors Nobles in the Noblesse of Scotland; married St Andrews, C.T. 23 Mar 1829, Maria Hendrica Wilhelmina JACOBS born 9 Sep 1802, (d.o. Frans JACOBS and Catharina ALEXANDER); and had issue:

Richard James LAING, younger of Colington; born "Grootpost", Darling 12 Mar 1836, bap. St Andrews, C.T. 21 Sep 1836, died vita patris "Bloemboschfontein", Darling Feb 1870; married Darling 31 Mar 1862, Jacoba van REENEN, born 1843, bap 1852 (granddaughter and coheiress of Jacob van REENEN and Sophia Wilhelmina van BREDA); and had issue: James Richard LAING of Colington, * Koeberg, Darling 4 Nov 1862, died C.T. 14 June 1904; Butcher in Cape Town; X C.T. 18.9.1887, Martha Maria Elizabeth {Maria} VOLSTEEDT, * C.T. 20 Sep 1864 (d.o. Tobias Andreas Johannes VOLSTEEDT, Butcher & Harbour Master, C.T. & Martha SMITH); and had issue: She was a Pianist and Music Teacher in Cape Town; She XX J. GAUGAIN. Richard Arthur {Dick} LAING of Colington, * C.T. 20.1.1897, died C.T. 7.6.1968; X (div) Woodstock D.R.C. 31.7.1916, Jacoba Margaretha Johanna {Mac/Maxie} WOLFAARDT, * Ceres 3.12.1896 (d.o. Petrus Jacobus Francois WOLVAARDT & Anna Magdalena Maria WOLFAARDT), died C.T. 3 April 1975; and had issue; XX  (div) Beatrice Ellen SMITH, no issue. James Richard Arthur {Jimmy} LAING of Colington, C.L.J., O.M.L.J., F.S.A. (Scot.), * Salt River, Cape Town 16.4.1918; Retired Businessman; Germiston’s "Sportsman of the Year" 1964; † Stutterheim, Eastern Cape 29 February 2000; X St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Germiston 27.7.1946, Heila Magdalena BOUWER, formerly Mrs Karel van HAGEN, * Germiston 17.1.1921 (only d.o. Johannes Lodewickus BOUWER & Dinah Magdalena Francina Elizabeth ANDERSON), died Germiston 20.7.1975; Private Secretary; and has issue: Robert Arthur LAING of Colington, * Germiston 11.7.1948, &bap.; St Andrews 17.10.1948 S.B.St.J., K.C.L.J., K.H., K.C.T. (Hon), C.M.L.J., N.N., F.P.M.I.(S.A.), F.R.S.A., F.S.A.(Scot)., M.C.S.S.A., M.S.A.I.Prod.M., Dip.Mgmt.Sc.(MDI), Dip.Mgmt.(MDI), Adv.Dip.Prod.Mgmt.(PMI), Dip.Bus.M. (DMS), B.Mgmt.(I.M.C.) - Degree awarded with Honours; B.Comm. (Hons.), M.Sc. (Herts.), Ph.D.(h.c.) - World Univ. Arizona; Computer Scientist, Project Mgr. CNA Limited; Studied the Cello under Betty Pack; Sang in the chorus for PACT in productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, Norma, La Forza del Destino, Faust, Kismet; also sang in Eva Harvey’s Opera "Esther".