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Clan Hume Gathering at Hume Castle, 08/09/2013

Clan Hume Gathering at Hume Castle, 08/09/2013

Earlier in September Amanda and I traveled to the Scottish Borders to spend an afternoon at Hume Castle, where part of this years Clan Hume/Home gathering was taking place. Held every five years, the gathering provides a way for clan members to connect in person with one another, while learning about their heritage and exploring the lands from which the clan once hailed. This years gathering was especially important as it coincided with the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden – a 16th century battle between Scotland and England where various clans including Clan Home suffered many casualties.

The 2013 gathering was by far the largest international congregation of Homes on record, with almost 200 clan members attending from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, the United States and Norway. Events at the four day meeting included genealogy workshops, ex-Home estate tours, the raising of the Home banner at Hume Castle and a visit to the Flodden memorial in Northumberland.

A well-known and respected Borders family, Clan Home were known as peacemakers, in contrast with another Borders family – Clan Douglas, whose reputation for harrying the English made them well-known as warriors. The name Home comes from the old English word for a hilly outcrop (Hôm), which is what Hume Castle sits upon. The name has also been spelt in many different ways over the centuries, but is always pronounced Hume.

We arrived in the Borders with a bit of time to spare, so stopped off at Floors Castle before making our way to the events at Hume Castle. Floors is the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe, and lies just outside Kelso on the banks of the River Tweed. The 5th Earl of Roxburghe (1680–1741) was instrumental in securing the union of England and Scotland in 1707, and was rewarded by being named the 1st Duke of Roxburghe. Floors was also once the home to the chief of Clan Innes, however when the twenty-fifth chief and 4th Duke died without a heir in 1805, the chiefly line ended. His successor who inherited the lands and peerage through the female line was obliged to take the double barreled surname of Innes-Ker, and hence was not recognised by the Court of Lord Lyon as chief of the name Innes. To this day Clan Innes is still without a chief.

Floors Castle, Scottish Borders

Floors Castle, Scottish Borders

10 minutes down the road by car sits the remains of Hume Castle, the spiritual home of Clan Home. The lands were acquired by William de Hume in the early 13th century, who built the first stone fortifications on the site around this time. Hume was the only Borders castle not destroyed during Robert the Bruce’s scorched earth policy of 1313, and was also where King James II of Scotland was staying during the siege of Roxburgh (1460), when a canon he was firing exploded and killed him instantly. Today the preservation of the castle is maintained by the Clan Home Association, under the auspices of Historic Scotland.

Hume Castle, Scottish Borders

Hume Castle, Scottish Borders

Chief of Clan Home/Hume

Chief of Clan Home/Hume

In the courtyard of the remnants of the castle, clan and association members and other special guests (including a whos-who of dignified Border families) gathered to hear stories about famous Homes including the philosopher David Hume (1711-1776). Hume started at Edinburgh University at the age of 12 and went on to become one of the leading lights of the Scottish Enlightenment. The gathering was then treated to a performance by Scottish folk singer Isla St Clair who spoke of her love for border ballads and the stories behind the songs. The afternoon was closed off by the 15th Earl of Home and current chief of Clan Home David Douglas-Home CVO CBE, who read from his father’s autobiography Where the Wind Blows. The chief is the only son of former Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Following the reading, I spoke to the chief briefly about this year’s gathering where he told me how clan members from at least 10 different countries were in attendance. He said the 2013 event was definitely the biggest gathering they’ve had, probably due to the event coinciding with the anniversary of Flodden.

With so many clan members hailing from overseas, I was interested in hearing how factions of Homes had ended up in each corner of the world. A South African contingent from Port Elizabeth told me how they descended from David Hume (born 1797 in Berweckshire) who arrived in South Africa in 1817. Hume was part of the settler party of 195 Scottish laborers and mechanics who bought out to South Africa by Captain Benjamin Moodie. He became and explorer and trader in South Africa, with one descendent telling me that Hume was in fact the first European to see Victoria Falls (not Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone). Hume’s South African descendents told me the reason they came to the gathering is because they feel their spiritual home is in Scotland. “The depth of history and heritage here is like nothing we have at home. It’s always important to know and understand your heritage and to be part of something bigger.”

The group from Norway traced their Home ancestry to a more recent time, when during the second World War a young Scottish woman named Frances Hume met a Norwegian man and emigrated there. This was their first time at a Home gathering, and they told me it was very important for them to know their story about where they came from, and to meet members of their Scottish family. Pam Hume and her husband were in attendance from Indiana – she said she didn’t know anything about the clans of Scotland or her Scottish ancestry until her cousin came across Hume Castle online. “I just thought the castle was four walls that happened to have our name.” Pam’s ancestry journey, as a result of her cousin’s discovery online, brought her to the gathering, where she discovered that there are a cluster of Humes living in Indiana less than 100 miles apart.

Interviewing the Norwegian Humes

Interviewing the Norwegian Humes

William Cooley and Barbara Hume traveled from Vancouver for the gathering, and said they discovered the clan when organising a Hume family reunion in 2007. They sent a photo of the reunion to the association, who were very pleased to find out what had happened to the Canadian line of the Humes. Barbara told me the gathering was a great way to meet people and form new friendships with people across the world. The final overseas attendees I spoke to hailed from the Netherlands. Anegla Hume and her daughter Charlotte can trace their ancestry to an English faction of Clan Hume. Angela found the clan association through Wikipedia and decided to become involved as a mark of respect to her ancestors. “It’s important not to forget, as you learn more and more about the history it’s like they come back to life.”

With so many of the attendees using the internet to discover their roots and learn about their clan, it’s clear that this is the way forward for clans and their associated societies. The Clan Home gathering was a fantastic example of a well-organised clan who have used the internet to gather clan members from all across the world, bringing them back to their ancestral home.

You can view an album of photos from the event over at TartanFootprint.com

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