1 Publications on DNA
2 Publications on Irwin Genealogy
3 Addenda and Corrigenda for
The Irwin Surname: its Origins, Diaspora and Early Branches

1. Publications on DNA

There are many books and websites but as this subject is still evolving rapidly, really up-to-date publications are desirable. Websites that I recommend are listed above at Background and Goals. Books I can recommend are:

  • Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA – A Guide for Family Historians, ed. by Graham S Holton 2019, available in UK from www.pen-and-sword.co.uk for £14.99 and in USA from www.penandswordbooks.com for $24.95. An excellent up-to-date guide.

  • Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill, available from www.DNA-Testing-Adviser.com for £13.99. A very readable educational case-study on the use of DNA to find biological relations.

For those who prefer on-line guidance I am always happy to answer queries specific to our Study, but for a broader perspective I can recommend the blogs of Roberta Estes (https://dna-explained.com/) and Debbie Kennett (https://cruwys.blogspot.com/).

2. Publications on Irwin Genealogy

2.1 Three books published in 2020 by James M Irvine that provide background to our DNA Study and reflect decades of meticulous research in libraries and archives, public and private, in Scotland, England, Ireland and USA. All are A4 sized, soft-back, well illustrated, printed on-demand in UK and USA, and can be ordered on-line from Amazon, or Blackwells, or Waterstones in UK, and from Amazon or Barnes and Noble in USA. Proceeds go to the Bonshaw Preservation Trust.

1. The Irwin Surname: its Origins, Diaspora and Early Branches. This volume shows how the traditions, buildings, heraldry, DNA testing and historical records now available all contribute to a modern understanding of the surname Ervin, Erwin, Irvin, Irvine, Irving, Irwin or Urwin: its origins, its spelling and pronunciation, its associated migrations, its chiefs and its tartans. The text corrects, updates and expands on previous books and articles on the subject, and develops several genealogies: of Drum and its alleged cadet lines surviving today; of some Continental Irwin lines apparently now extinct; of six early Dumfriesshire branches, including Bonshaw; and of nine Irish lines, of which at least five still survive. It includes mini-biographies of 30 previous Irwin genealogists, transcripts of some early records and hitherto unpublished texts, and lists of the many places and notable persons bearing the surname, and references to all the Irwins on record before 1500.

Intriguing new research throws fresh light on many early Irwins who were not ancestors of Bonshaw or Drum, on the early Barons of Drum and Lairds of Bonshaw, and on the many associated coats of arms and mottoes.

- a delightful distillate of knowledge and highly readable exposition of the surname (Gordon Casely);

- I am learning so much, and enjoying it immensely (Peter Irving);

- essential reading for all genealogists with the Irwin surname, however they may spell it (Barbara Edelman, former Chairman, Clan Irwin Association).

320 pages; ISBN 978-1-78955-852-4; £12.99 in UK, $17.99 in USA, p&p additional.

2 Dr Christopher Irvin and his ‘Original of the Family of the Irvins’. Christopher Irvin, 1618-1693, was a cadet of the Bonshaw line. He graduated from Edinburgh University, served as a military surgeon, practised as a doctor, and was a successful author. He was Physician and Historiographer Royal in Scotland to King James VII and inherited Castle Irvine in Co.Fermanagh, but led an unorthodox private life: in a lawsuit after his death he was accused of being “an adulterer, a bigamist, a trigamist, a poisoner and a murderer”.

Part I is a biography of this Jacobite polymath. Part II addresses the account he wrote on the origins of his family and its surname, traditions that have since been the basis of most genealogies of the Irwin surname. Five different versions the ‘Original’ are transcribed, the oldest now published for the first time, and a detailed analysis made of the veracity of its controversial claims that the early Kings of Scotland were Irvins, that Robert the Bruce was sheltered at Bonshaw, and that the Irvine/gs of Bonshaw, Drum and Orkney all share a common ancestor.

141 pages; ISBN 978-3-78955-473-1; £8.99 in UK, $13.99 in USA, p&p additional.

3 The Genealogy of Washington Irving. Several biographies have been written on Washington Irving, 1783-1859, the creator of Rip van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, America’s first literary writer, diplomat and popular raconteur, but this is the first publication devoted solely to his Scottish ancestry, from the youngest son of a lowly crofter in a small island in Orkney, through these islands’ largest landowner, back (allegedly) to the armour-bearer of King Robert the Bruce.

Part I is a transcript of the hitherto unpublished but very readable and, for its time, surprisingly well-informed genealogy written in 1858 by Washington’s nephew and biographer, Pierre M Irving. Part II updates this pioneering account in light of recent DNA and other research. Appendices include family trees and transcripts of relevant correspondence of Pierre M Irving and several Scottish genealogists, and explore the provenance of associated gifts.

126 pages; ISBN 978-1-78955-477-9; £8.99 in UK, $13.99 in USA, p&p additional.

2.2 Older publications on Irwn Genealogy. In addition to several privately published books on specific branches of the name and various articles in The Holly Leaf Chronicle, the following are still relevant:

4 The Book of the Irvings by Col. JB Irving, 1907, reprinted 1990s, now out of print. Stimulating and wide ranging, but very dated.

5 The Irvines and their Kin by Lucinda Boyd, 1908, now out of print but available as a 2004 CD from http://www.rootspoint.com/?product_cat=&s=irvine&post_type=product for $4.99, and available in text format at https://archive.org/details/irvinestheirkinh00boyd. Wide ranging, with many American lines, but very dated.

6 The Irvines of Drum and Collateral Branches by Lt.Col. J Forbes Leslie, 1909, now out of print. Good, but dated.

7 The Irvings of Bonshaw by Alastair MT Maxwell-Irving, 1968, available from the Laird of Bonshaw at candcirving@outlook.com, price £35 including packing and airmail postage to USA (cheque payable to Christopher Irving). Short and very readable, but now dated.

8 The Irvines of Drum and Their Cadet Lines, 1300-1750 by DM Mackintosh, 1998, available from Linda Baker at linda.search@gmail.com, price US$45 plus surface postage. Excellent modern research.

9 The Origins of the Irvings by Alastair MT Maxwell-Irving, 2009. Text available at http://www.dgnhas.org.uk/tdgnhas/3083.pdf < pp.81-9. Until recently this article was the most authoritative published work on this subject.

10 Some Genealogies of the Irvings, edited by James M Irvine, 2012. In CD format only. Copies of this CD may be ordered from candcirving@outlook.com, price US$95 including packing and airmail postage to USA (cheque payable to The Bonshaw Trust). Content includes:

  • Genealogy of the House of Irving, transcript of one of the later versions of Dr Christopher Irvin’s c.1680 manuscript Original of the family of Irvines or Erinvines;

  • Some Bonshaw Titles, 1475-1655, transcripts of texts of 24 title deeds to the Bonshaw estate;

  • Memoirs Historical and Genealogical of the Irvines or Irvings - A Border Clan of Dumfries-shire, by Rev. Christopher Irvine, 1895: transcript of well-researched but hitherto unpublished text;

  • Short family trees of the Irvings of Bonshaw and the Irvines of Drum, by John Bell Irving of Beanlands, c.1911: transcripts illustrating the text of Irvine 1895;

  • Family tree of the Royal Houses, Irving of Bonshaw and Irvine of Drum by EJB Irving of Kirkintilloch, 1960s: black & white copies of 16 sheets of his 44ft long tree;

  • The Origin of the Irvings by Alastair Maxwell-Irving, transcribed from The Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 2009 vol. 83 pp.81-9. This article offers an authoritative interpretation of the early family traditions.

Copies of this CD may be ordered from candcirving@outlook.com, price US$95 including packing and airmail postage to USA (cheque payable to The Bonshaw Trust).

Three excellent biographies may also be of interest:

11 Robert the Bruce, a trilogy by Nigel Tranter, 1971, 1985, now out of print but available from Amazon and on Kindle. A most readable historical novel in which William de Irwyn is a principal character.

12 Fearless on Everest: The Quest for Sandy Irvine by Julie Summers, 2001. Available from Amazon and on Kindle.

13 Washington Irving: The definitive and very readable Biography of America’s First Bestselling Author by Andrew Burstein, 2007. Available from Amazon.

3. Addenda and Corrigenda for The Irwin Surname: its Origins, Diaspora and Early Branches

Purchasers for this book after mid-August 2020 will find the following at page 309. Purchasers of earlier copies may like to cut-and paste the following on to a single sheet of paper and insert this into the back of their copy. I much regret the need for a Corrigenda, which has become necessary despite careful proof reading. The addenda are inevitable with a book of this nature. I will welcome suggestions for a second Addenda and Corrigenda.

Addenda and Corrigenda, July 2020

Page para. line


32 fnote 356 to read “... (see page 236 below) ...”.

92 under Henry Quentin Forbes, replace “sold” with “gifted”.

92 under Alexander HR XXVII, his third wife is “Zulfa Arikah”.

111 2 2 and para. 3 lines 2, 4 & 7: for “Henry” read “Quentin”.

111 3 5-7 to read “... that on his death the Trust should own and manage what was left of the c.9,800 acre estate after the sales of agricultural holdings to sitting tenants. Quentin died in November 1975. The keys to Drum, together with a sizable financial endowment and 412 acres of land, were handed over to the Trust on 28 May 1976 ...”.

111 9 5 to read “He has seven children.”.

112 under “Henry Quentin Forbes” replace “sold” with “gifted”.

122 fnote 1144 to read “... 1588 and 1597 (Neilson 1902). Excerpts in Bell’s MS ...”.

165 4 1 to read “10. William Irving, born 1663, acquired Bonshaw 1696 (by law 1699), died 1742”.

170 5 1 & 2 to read “... Kaffir Wars of the early 1850s. On his cousin’s ...”.

178 1 2 to read “... back to before 1782, its”.

195 1 2 to read “Drumcarney is ½ mile SE of Ballykelly and 2 miles west of Limavady.”.


8 fnote 128 add “Forbes Leslie (1909, 27) suggested the feud was during the 2nd lairdship, but this is unlikely as at that time the Irvines were not in Drum.”

10 3 8 add footnote “This Kilwinning is that associated (much later) with the Masonic order.”

46 fnote 444 to read “Morgan 1985; Hanks 2003, 2016.”.

52 fnote 492 Hanks (2016) gives:

GB 1881 GB current Ireland current

Irving 6646 9284 101

Irvine 6557 9764 2305

Irwin 2514 5537 3671

Urwin 1363 1797 33

Irvin 787 662 17

Orwin 262 685 14

Erwin 190 374 351

Ervin 51 146 28

Irwing 39 52 4

Erving 35 75 5

Irwine 35 25 3

Ervine 26 135 318

Erven 7 11 0

Arvin 4 14 0

Hanks’s claim that Urwin and other variants with “w” dominant in NE England are an English surname with a different origin is not consistent with our DNA evidence.

62 7 last add “The present patron is Alexander Irvine of Drum.”.

79 last line to read: “... of the Abbey of Arbroath, the martyr Thomas à Becket (1119-1170).”

79 fnote 720 add “Bernard may have written the Declaration of Arbroath.”.

109 last line add “Jean died in 1786.”.

111 9 5 to read “Patron of the Aboyne Highland Games and of the Clan Irwin Association.”.

123 fnote 1152 to read “... Fraser 1989, 109; Barrow 2012, 306-9.”.

149 fnote 1476 line 2 to read “summoned for treason on 12 June 1548, to be tried on 7 Aug. (APS xi ...”;

fnote 1479 lines 11-12 to read “... summoned for treason (see footnote above); and in Jan. 1550 ...”.

160 fnote 1603 add “Sir James Johnstone renewed the feu of Bonshaw and Dunbretton to William Irving in 1609 (Fraser 1894 i, ccvii).”.

163 fnote 1652 add “See also page 6 above.”

165 fnote 1673, last line to read “... see page 166 below.”

169 1 3 to read “... the New Statistical Account,1735 although he did include the tale of Robert the Bruce visiting Bonshaw.”.

169 fnote 1735 to read “NSA Dumfriesshire iv, 274-80.”.

180 Irwings of Prussia insert: Charles Francis, born 1728, died in 1801; he was an author and intellectual in Berlin, where he was known as Karl Franz von Irwing

212 section 7 add “von Irwing, Carl Franz 1727-1801 D Berlin author, intellectual”.

213 Irvington, Almeda Co., California: after “1884 Judge Irving” add “local circuit judge”.

287 add “Barrow, GWS 1973, 2012 The Kingdom of the Scots.”.

292 add “Morgan, TJ & P 1985 Welsh Surnames.”.

293 add “Neilson, Dr George 1902 The March Laws, ed. TI Rae, Stair Society Miscellany i, 1971, 11-77.”.