Recorded in the spellings of Findlater, Finlater and Finlator, this is a Scottish locational surname. It originates from an area known as 'The lands of Findlater'. This is in the parish of Fordyce, Banffshire. The meaning of the name is obscure but is probably a development of the Olde Scandanavian personal name 'Finn', plus 'lan torr', or similar, meaning rocky area. What is certain is that the surname is a very early recording, Galfridus de Fynleter being a juror on an inquest as early as the year 1342. In 1366 in the documents relating to the Great Seal of Scotland, there is the curious recording of Johanna de Fynletir, who made over to her husband all her possessions. These included the lands of Findlater, and certain rights relating to the appointment of the sherrif of Banff. The nameholders are also associated with the Clan Ogilvy, who hold the earldom of Findlater as well as the earldom of Airlie. The Ogilvy's played a prominent role in the various attempts to restore the Stuart monarchy. When this ended in failure at the battle of Culloden in 1745, the clan leaders were exiled to France, and their followers punished, sometimes by death. Whether misfortune fell upon the Findlaters as well is not known but probable. In later years at least one nameholder reached the highest ranks of academia. Andrew Findlater (1810 - 1885) was the first editor of Chambers Encyclopaedia, and the leading 'font of knowledge' of his day.
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