This famous Scottish locational name derives from the Barony of Dunbar in the county of Berwick. The surname, it is claimed, descends from Earl Gospatric of Northumberland C. 1070, whose grandfather was the lay abbot of Dunkeld, although quite what this has to do with the surname development is unclear. Our research indicates that the surname in its recognizable form was not apparently recorded until the 13th century, see below, although thereafter the Dunbar nameholders played an important role in Scottish and the Border history. At various times from the 14th century they held considerable estates in Wigtownshire, where they were prominent amongst the Border clans that caused mayhem throughout Northern England, and the more gentile parts of Scotland. They also held lands in Caithness from the 15th century, although whether this was by choice or exile is not clear. Early recordings include such examples as James Dunbar, captured and held as a prisoner at Knaresborough in Yorkshire in 1425, whilst another James Dunbar was given safe conduct into England in 1451. The surname development has also produced such examples Dumbar in the 1625 registers, Dumbare in 1666 and Dounbare in 1692. The coat of arms has the distinctive blazon of a white lion rampant on a red field, on a white bordure, a semee of red roses. The crest is a horses head. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Dunbar, which was dated 1266, Charles Witness (Hospital of Soltre), during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland 1249 - 1286. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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