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:

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 BranchesThis 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 all the 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  It includes mini-biographies of 30 previous Irwin genealogists, transcripts of some early records and hitherto unpublished texts, and lists of the many places and notable persons bearing the surname, and references to all the Irwins on record before 1500.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 IrvingSeveral 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:

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.”.