WHY A CLAN SOCIETY?
One could be forgiven for wondering why anyone would want to join a Clan
Society in this day and age. It may seem like a bunch of silly
old men, dressing in kilts that were not in use in Scotland until the
1700s and were never
worn by members of a lowland clan like ours.
These men often engage in the adolescent and unsanitary practise
of "going commando." Members are celebrating a Scotland that has
not existed for centuries, if ever. Today's Scotland has around
five million inhabitants, fewer than the one city that serves as the
home of the Clan Little Society in North America (Atlanta, Georgia).
There are more people in North America alone claiming Scottish
ancestry than there are people of any background in Scotland.
You don't have to be Scottish or or even have the requisite surname to
join a clan society. Clans in Scotland were known to be inclusive
of outsiders who expressed allegiance to the family name. A clan
society is a group of people who share a common interest in a particular
surname. If you have an interest in the surname Little or any of
its various spellings (such as Lyttle, Lytle, Lytil, Littel, Littell,
Lityl, or Litle), the buttons above will link you to a regional social
group that you can join. Pat Little provides the following summary
of why someone might want to join.
People join together as a clan family and with other clans and clan
societies to preserve the history and traditions practiced by Scottish
ancestors. This is done at clan callings, Burns dinners, Hogmanay
celebrations, highland games and festivals and other cultural and
heritage events. They provide educational lectures and set up
displays in schools and libraries.
They have fun participating in community and holiday parades; they sing
and dance together to the music of pipes, fiddle, drums, and other
traditional instruments. They meet interesting people and, at
nearly every Scottish event, honor the military with ceremonies.
They provide small scholarships to support children undertaking
studies in Scottish dance, piping, and language.
They support clan athletes at Scottish games who compete in golf, clay
shooting, shortbread baking, archery, and history quizzes. They
worship together at Kirk (church) ceremonies such as Flowers of the
Forest, which remembers members who have passed on, and the Blessing of
Some societies, including the Clan Little Society of North America, have
a Genealogist who shares research information that has been donated by
members as well as a Quartermaster who sells unique members-only
products such as official tartan material for kilts and authentic clan
jewelry (crests, badges, and pins).
Our most cherished story comes from the minstrel who called himself
"Blind Harry," a common nickname for the devil at the time. He
wrote epic poems (in heroic couplets) that were like very long ballads.
The most famous of these portrayed the exploits of William
In that poem, Harry introduced a nephew called "Eduuard Littil,
his sistir sone so der" (Edward Little, his sister's son so dear).
Along with Tom Halliday, Edward is said to have fought
side-by-side with Wallace in the battles of 1296 and 1297. Based
on this association with the famous William Wallace, we sometimes enjoy
claiming Edward as the founder of our clan.
However, the minstrel was an entertainer and not a historian. He
made his living reciting these epic poems at the homes of nobles.
So he fabricated details of day to day life to dramatize the
events of oral history. He may have had some written sources, but
they could not have provided the level of detail that filled his
12-volume 11,877 line epic tale. Harry was writing in the late
1470s, about 170 years after the English had hanged, drawn, and
quartered Wallace at London in August of 1305. It is no surprise
that some of his information was wrong. For example, he attributed
Robert the Bruce's Battle of Loudon Hill to Wallace. He also told
of Wallace leading an army to the outskirts of London, something that
almost certainly did not happen. Because of these and other
liberties with the truth, no historian would rely on Blind Harry's
stories without corroborating evidence. And there is no mention of
Edward Little in any other source—including census records, marriage
notices, charters, or contracts of any kind. He is not mentioned
until long after Harry's poem, referring back to that poem as a source.
Thus, Edward's existence is in some doubt and any speculation
about his ancestry is pure fantasy.
On the other hand, Harry mentioned Edward many times (Book III, lines 57
& 201; Book IV, line 147; Book V, lines 726, 737, 1085, & 1117;
Book X, line 794). One of those references reports that Edward
went to Annandale, an area just 20 miles West of Meikledale (where the
Clan Little established its home a Century later). He described
Edward's relationship to Wallace quite specifically. There are
indeed some Hallidays buried in the graveyards where we find many
Littles buried. Harry claimed to have been using a Latin "Life of
Sir William Wallace" that was written by Wallace's lifelong friend and
chaplain, John Blair, in 1327. No one has ever seen that book or
reported seeing that book then or now, but the same can be said of other
documents from that era. Harry also refers to Sir Thomas Gray, a
parson of Liberton, as another source. The "Little of Morton Rigg"
tartan designed for the Clan Little Society draws blatantly from the
Wallace design and was nonetheless officially approved. So perhaps
we can be forgiven for clinging to our somewhat tenuous connection with
the Wallace legend.
Inherited surnames, as opposed to by-names (nick-names attached to
individuals), came to the British Isles with the Norman Conquest in
1066. Even then, they were only used by nobles who wanted to be
associated with the new rulers. Most people did not use surnames
until at least a century later.
We have found early examples of the diminutive surname, such as Alan
Little who received a grant of forest land on the south side of the
river Ayr from the first Walter the Steward before 1177. After
1204, this tract of land was granted by the second Walter the Steward to
the monks of Melrose, on Alan's conversion to the monastic life
. Was this person related to the Littles of Meikledale, near Langholm?
Hugo Parvus, clericus regis, served in Eskdale in the time of William the Lion 1165-1214
. Was this the same Hugo Parvus who served as burgess of Dundee in 1202?
Dundee is about 150 miles away from Eskdale. Was he related
to one R. Parvus, a chaplain who witnessed a charter in favor of the
Hospital of Soltre sometime between 1214-1240?
The word parvus
does indeed mean little or small in Latin.
In 1313, a John Litill participated in an inquest in Lanark
. An agreement was registered between the abbot of Scone and Robertus dictus Lytil in 1332
. Martin Litell at Abirdowyr in Fife witnessed a charter by William "Dominus Vallis de Lodell" in 1351
and might have been the same Martin Lytill who possessed land at Cardvyn (Cadwan) in 1358
It seems that the name Little (in some form or another) appeared
often in the general area where Wallace lived out his storied life.
There seems to have been some connection with the Douglasses in our own
background. Adam Lityll is listed as a tenant of Douglas in the
barony of Kilbucho in 1376
Nicol Litil is listed, among others, as debtors to the Earls of
Douglas for the West Marche of Scotland as part of a truce on November
. Johannes Litill is listed as a vicar at Lestalrig in 1448
The earliest recorded landowners in Ewesdale (the valley around the Ewes
waters) were the Lovels and de Kunyburgs. Sometime between 1243
and 1247, Sir John Fraser married a daughter of Sir William de Kunyburg
and thereby came into possession of the lands of Ewesdale (both sides of
In 1410, on the surrender of those lands by Alexander Fraser to
the governor, the Western dale of Ewes water was first granted to the
by Robert Stewart. Until his death in 1420, he was 1st Duke of
Albany and Governor of Scotland. Furthermore, since James I was in
captivity in England, Robert was the king in all but name.
Shortly after James I returned, he confirmed the earlier grant to his
"beloved and faithful Simon Lytil of all and whole the lands of
Senbigil, of Mikkildale, of Kirktown, of Sourbie, of the Malnarlande,
and of the Pullis, by and in the barony of Mallarynok, within the
Sheriffdom of Dumfries, which lands belonged to Alexander Fraser of
Ewisdale, and were fully resigned by him into the hands of the said
governor; to be held by the said Simon and his heirs of the King and his
heirs, in fee and heritage as freely as they had been held by the said
Alexander Fraser or his predecessors, for performing to the King and his
heirs the services due and wont from the said lands. Given under
the great seal at Edinburgh, 30th April, 1426, in the 20th year of the
Most of the families in the area were tenants of the great landowners of
Eskdale and Ewesdale—in succession the Douglases to 1455, the Maxwells
to 1603, and thereafter the Scotts, Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry.
In contrast, Simon and the succeeding chiefs of the Clan Little (just
like the Elliotts across the river at Arkleton) held their lands as
feudal tenants in capite
(directly from the Crown).
THE CLAN LITTLE
Simon Lytil, 1st Laird of Meikledale, is therefore considered to be the
first chief of the name. He probably did not live at Meikledale in
the beginning, since he was identified as "Simon Littill of Kirktoun"
(about a mile South or Meikledale) when witnessing a document on
December 29, 1469
Members of the clans in that area were considered to be Border Reivers
(pronounced "reevers"). During the Anglo-Scottish border wars of
1296-1603, when not being used as militia by one or another noble, many
of them were raiding and reiving (stealing and retrieving livestock) on
both sides of the border. They were skilled equestrians and by the
close of the 16th century had earned a reputation as the finest light
cavalry in Europe. Less warlike clansmen served as monks in abbeys
such as Sweetheart, Holyrood, and the Franciscan convent of Greyfriars
Members of the Clan Little became established throughout that area: not
only in Ewesdale, but also in nearby Eskdale and Wauchopedale.
Jeffra and William Litell were in court on October 27, 1479.
Simon Litell, along with John and Alan Litill, were cited for
failing to appear as surety in 1504. In 1543, Christopher Lytle
was involved in a court case. James and Johnne Lytill were
mentioned in the pay list of the Lord High Treasurer, showing the
expenses of a raid to Eskdale and the siege of Langholme Tower in July,
Alan Little was a descendant of Richard le Lytle of the fifth
post-Conquest Anglo-Norman generation of a powerful family in Cheshire.
Richard le Lytle, was the third son of Richard de Overton, himself a
third son in the extended family descended via Robert FitzHugh, Baron of
Malpas, from the ruthless Marcher Lord, Hugh "Lupus" (the Wolf), Comte
d'Avranches. Earl of Chester, and nephew of William the Conqueror.
Landless younger sons of younger sons on the fringe of powerful Norman
families had to hit the road and fend for themselves. Alan Little was
granted lands at Cairntable in Ayrshire by Walter Fitzalan, High Stewart
of Scotland, his former neighbour over the county border in Shropshire,
(They were to end their days together as lay brothers of Melrose
Abbey). In Ayrshire the Littles intermarried with Crawfords and
Wallaces. Edward Little, Sir William Wallace's nephew, "my sisters sonne
so dere", fought at his uncle's side in the initial guerilla phase of
the Wars of Independence in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire. In
the following century Nicol Little was one of the "Conservators for the
Peace for Lochmabenston" ie the Cloch Mabon, the huge boulder by the
Solway at Gretna where the opposing Wardens of the English and Scottish
West Marches met periodically to sort disputes and administer rough
Heralds were first mentioned in Western Europe about the time of the
First Crusade in 1095. Since the early 15th century, the Sovereign
has delegated the power to grant new Coats of Arms to officers (Kings
their juniors (Heralds), and their own juniors (Pursuivants). In
Scotland, these duties are handled by the Court of the Lord Lyon where
he has the final word on all such matters.
The Crest of the chiefs of Clan Little was a demi-lion in black
spattered with silver saltires; in his right paw he holds a cutlass, in
his left the cross of St. Andrew. The only splash of color
is in the red claws.
The Crest rests on a wreath of the livery colors. This would be
traditionally be attached to the chief's helmet, so that he could be
recognized by this and his shield and surcoat even in his fighting
armor. No one but the chief may wear the crest.
Members of the clan may wear the chief's crest, surrounded by a belt and
buckle (to signify subservience to the chief). Because there is
currently no chief, we use the crest of Little of Meikledale of old with
In 1672, David was the last Laird of Meikledale and last Chief of Clan
Little to register arms. His full coat of arms consists of the
shield and the crest [Workman's Manuscript, Lyon Office]
The Shield shows the arms - a silver St. Andrew's Cross (often
rendered as white) on a black background. The dominant black and
white comprise the livery colors of the Border Littles.
The Clan Little plant is heather, ubiquitous in Scotland.
The Clan Little at Meikledale had two mottoes:
Concedo Nulli — I yield to no one.
(often mistranslated as the imperative "No Surrender!")
Fidei Coticula Crux — The cross is the test of truth.
While the Littles of Liberton (Edinburgh) had their own:
Magnum in Parvo — Great in Little.
Multum in Parvo — Much in Little.
In the 1500s, members of the Clan Armstrong were rising to prominence as
outlaws throughout the area. It was said in 1528 that they could
muster 3,000 horsemen, Littles amongst them. Their leader, Johnnie
Armstrong of Gilnockie, posed a threat to King James V who arranged in
1530 to meet him at Caerlanrig. The King's men ambushed 33
Armstrongs, Littles, Elliots, and Irvings, including Johnnie, and they
were all hanged on the spot
In 1568/9, more than 100 Littles rode with Batysons, Armstrongs,
Glendinnings, and Thompsons as part of a raid on Stirling by John, the
8th Lord Maxwell. Family tradition has it that the Littles
returned with many more horses than they had when they left. Near
the end of 1581, Maxwell became the Earl of Morton briefly on the
execution of James Douglas (the 4th Earl of Morton) and continued until
Archibald Douglas (the 5th Earl of Morton) was confirmed in 1586.
On December 10, 1585, during his brief time as "the Earl of Morton
4.5," he arranged a pardon
naming more than fifty Littles including "Sim Little, laird of Meikledale" (presumably, another Simon Little).
On the 8th of July, 1587, a session of parliament was opened with five
Lord Commissioners and three deputies in attendance. One of those
Lord Commissioners was William Little [of Liberton], Provost of
Edinburgh. Although William was a cousin of the Littles at
Meikledale (the home of the Clan Little), he helped to pass an act on
July 29th "for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the disordered
subjects: inhabitants of the borders, highlands, and isles."
Attached to that Act is a list of the relevant clans, including
seventeen from the Borders (Southern edge of Scotland). They are
further divided into the Middle March and the West March. The
third clan to be mentioned in the West March is the Littles (Litillis),
behind only the Scotts (of Ewisdaill) and the Beatties (Batesonis).
In 1603, the next King James (James VI of Scots) became concurrently James I of England:
an event known as the Union of the Crowns. James now had no need
for a fighting force in his 'Middle Shires' and the Border reivers had
no place to hide. A conscious effort was made to chase these
troublesome clansmen out of Scotland, sometimes to Ulster and sometimes
directly to New England.
The Littles of Liberton
In c. 1500 Edward Little, probably from his arms a second son of the
Chief, went to Edinburgh, set up as a cloth merchant in the Boothraw and
became involved in town politics. William Little. the eldest of his
three sons was killed at Flodden in 1513, but his brothers prospered.
The family later moved out of town to nearby Liberton. Clement Litill,
2nd of Liberton, advocate, died in 1580 leaving his now priceless
collection of three hundred books to the town. They were then gifted to
the town's new municipal University as the Clement Litill Bequest. He is
remembered as the "Founder of Edinburgh University Library". His
younger brother William Litill, 3rd of Liberton, who died on-24th
November 1601, was twice Provost of Edinburgh towards the end of the
16th Century. The Litill brothers were involved with Lawson and others
in planning for the new University subsequently built on the site of
Kirk o Field, blown up in 1567 by the murderers of Mary Queen of Scots'
second husband, Lord Darnley. At a ceremony in November 2001 at the
Litill Memorial in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Clan Little Society
donated a plaque in memory of the brothers Clement and William Litill.
The plaque was unveiled by the present Lord Provost on the 400th
Anniversary to the day of his distant predecessor's death.
The Clan of the Sword and the Cross
Other Little clansmen turned from the rough, Godless, and violent life
of the Border travelling, not northwards to commerce and politics, but
to the contemplative life of a monk in one of the religious houses
thirty miles to the west. In the 16th Century William Litill was a monk
in the Abbey of Sacre Coeur, John Little in 1300 and a later John Little
in the 16th Century, were both monks in the Monastery of Sacre Bois,
and Robert Little was Warden of the Convent of the Greyfriars in
Dumfries where two centuries earlier Bruce had slain the Comyn before
the High Altar.
END OF THE CLAN
On September 24, 1606, Thomas Lytill (Simon's son) disposed of the 6 1/2
merk lands of Sorbie in favor of William Armstrong and his son,
Alexander and on June 21, 1615, Thomas Litle of Meikledale disposed of
the 4 merk lands of Kirktown to William Armstrong
The last of the estate of Meikledale passed out of family
together with the title of laird in 1666 for a bond in trust to William
Johnston, merchant of Edinburgh for 1500 pounds
It then came into the hands of Adam Elliot (son of the factor to
Buccleuch) until his death August 16, 1682 at the age of 82 or 83.
He had been quite successful and was able to leave property for
his three sons. The oldest son Walter inherited Arkleton, and the
second son John got Thorlyshope (Thorlawhope)
Another Simon Little, grandfather of David the last chief. was chief at
the Union of the Crowns when Border warfare officially came to all end.
Simon's son Thomas, and Thomas' son David, were the last Littles
to be lairds of Meikledale
David was given work as a groom at Windsor Castle. The
chiefly line can be traced down to yet another Simon Little in
Nittyholme, Canonbie in 1745 "the linear heir male of this family".
Adam's third son, William, inherited Meikledale. William's life
was "unfortunate." He married one of the Scotts of Merrylaw but
left her to run away with "some sort of gipsie." Reportedly, he
lived with her in a cave while stealing fine horses from the English and
selling them in the North of Scotland. After a while, he returned
home to his wife but continued stealing horses. Once, when an
English horse had been stolen, its owner went directly to Stirling
Bridge where William (the Laird of Meikledale) was found riding it.
William barely escaped hanging and died soon after returning home,
leaving his wife with a son Adam and a daughter Lucy in embarrassed
The son was obliged to sell Meikledale to his cousin, William
Elliot of Arkleton and, in 1725, creditors forced Williams's son to sell
Meikledale for 1900 pounds to Wiliam Scot(t) of Rowanburn (a great
cattle drover). Sometime after 1742, William Scot(t) sold
Meikledale to Mr. William Laing, who in turn left it to his youngest
sister Margaret and her husband, William Elliot of Borthwickbrae (son of
John Elliot of Borthwickbrae).
Both at home and overseas the old saying still holds, "If you see a
Little a horse won't be far away". The descendants in England of Matthew
Little, Baron Baillie of Langholm, [iii] kept up the Reiver cavalry
tradition: General Sir Archibald Little, commanding officer 9th Lancers
in the Indian Mutiny, his brother the dapper "Josey" Little, King's
Dragoon Guards, who won the Grand National on 'Chandler' in 1848, and
the General's sons, Archibald Cosmo Little, 5th Lancers and Brigadier
Malcolm Orme Little. commanding officer 9th Lancers in the Boer War, and
grandson Col. Malcolm A. A. Little, Royal Horse Guards (The Blues)
killed in action in Italy in 1944.
In the World Wars of the 20th century stirrups gave way to the wings of
"the cavalry of the air ".[iv] At least three sons of the old time
reiving Little clan achieved distinction in aerial warfare, while a
fourth was decorated for high courage test flying experimental aircraft.
The demi lyon of the Little chiefs' crest holds a sword in one paw and
St Andrew's cross in the other. An impressive number of descendants of
the ancient Eskdale clan became clergy or doctors on the one hand or
cavalrymen and military airmen on the other, hence the winged stirrup in
the Clan Society's arms. The Janus headed nature of the clan is nowhere
more clearly demonstrated than in the lives of two twentieth century
sons of the Border clan, both by coincidence born in Melbourne,
Australia. Fighter pilot Robert Alexander Little RNAS, DSC and Bar, DSO
and Bar, CdeG with Star. killed in action in France in May 1918 at the
age of 22, ranks in the top 15 Aces of all the combatant nations of the
Great War of 1914-18, and is Australia's Ace of Aces. The Cross is
represented by The Right Reverend Thomas Francis Little, recently
retired 6th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.
James Crawford Little of Morton Rigg, known affectionately as Dr.
Johnnie, was born on May 22, 1922 at Maxwelltown (the West side of the
River Nith) just seven years before it was merged with Dumfries (the
East side of the River Nith). He studied medicine under Sir Martin
Roth in Newcastle upon Tyne and then went to Leeds (the setting of the
popular television series DCI Banks). He was the consulting
psychiatrist at St. James Hospital from 1959 to 1966, while it adjusted
to having psychiatry offered in general hospitals instead of stigmatized
asylums. He married Catherine Eliza Salt (b. 1926) and lectured
at the University of Leeds, developing a portfolio of publications.
In 1966, he left Leeds in Yorkshire to return to Dumfries as the
Director of Clinical Research at the Crichton Royal Hospital. He
was the Secretary of the Society of Clinical Psychiatrists and his
honorifics include M.D. (Doctor of Medicine from the University of
Bristol), D.P.M. (Doctorate of Psychological Medicine from Durham
University), F.R.C.P. (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians),
F.R.C.Psych. (Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists), and F.S.A.
(Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland). Here are some
of his professional publications:
Behind the depressive syndrome. British Medical Journal, 1(726) March 5, 1960.
Estimate of risks. British Medical Journal, 1(1478) May 26, 1962.
Develoment of a psychiatric unit in a large general hospital. The Lancet. 281(7277), pp. 376-377. February 16, 1963. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(63)92727-2; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7277.]
A psychiatric unit in a large general hospital. The Lancet. 281(7281), p. 610. March 16, 1963. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(63)92727-2; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7281.]
A case of primary addiction to meprobamate. British Medical Journal, 2(794) September 28, 1963.
A rational plan for integration of psychiatric sevices to an urban community. The Lancet. 282(7318), pp. 1159-1160. November 30, 1963. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(63)90809-2; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7318.]
Integration of psychiatric services to an urban community. The Lancet. 283(7328), p. 333. February 8, 1964. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(64)92455-9; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7328.]
Housebound. The Lancet. 283(7343), pp. 1163-1164. May 23, 1964. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(64)91843-4]; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7343.]
Psychiatry as a medical speciality. The Lancet, 285(7388), p. 769. April 3, 1965. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(65)92137-9; Originally published as volume 1, issue 7388.]
Fallacies of medical education. The Lancet, 290(7520), p. 839. October 14 1967. [Originally published as volume 2, issue 7520.]
Objectivity in clinical psychiatric research. The Lancet. 292(7577), pp. 1072-1075. November 16, 1968. [doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(68)91545-6; Originally published as volume 2, issue 7577.]
The athlete's neurosis: A deprivation crisis. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 45(2), pp. 187-197. 1969.
The evaluation of clinical phenomena in psychiatry. Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Journal. 292 pp. 191-197. 1969.
Foundation fellowships. The Lancet, 298(7732), p. 103. November 6, 1971. [Originally published as volume 2, issue 7732.]
Psychiatrists' attitudes to abortion. British Medical Journal, 1(110) January 8, 1972.
Abortion: Changing attitudes of psychiatrists. The Lancet, 299(7741), p. 97. January 8, 1972. [Originally published as volume 2, issue 7741.]
with T. A. Kerr, & H. A. McClelland. Where are the untreated depressives? British Medical Journal, 1(1593) June 17, 1972.
with J. J. Kear Colwell, and A. T. Lloyd. Psychiatry in a general hospital (with foreword by Sir Martin Roth). St. Louis, MO: Butterworth-Heinemann. 1974. [ISBN: 978-0407366909]
with E. R. Alexander, and D. J. Hall.
Characteristics of male psychiatric patients admitted from contrasting
urban and rural populations in Scotland. Unpublished study.
A thousand years: The Littles and their forebears. The Scottish Genealogist: The Quarterly Journal of the Scottish Genealogy Society, 35(2), pp. 45-62. June 1988.
Suicide at Risley. British Medical Journal, 297(424) August 6, 1988.
This too is your heritage: Introduction to the Scots language. 1993. [ISBN: 978-0952127604]
The Clan Little window in Westerkirk parish church. 2003. [ISBN: 978-0952127611]
CLAN LITTLE SOCIETY
In 1974, Dr. Johnnie happened upon some family papers
which aroused his curiosity about the history of the name Little.
He took early retirement in 1981, partly to look after his ailing
wife who lived until the year 2000. In his spare time, he
undertook more research and prepared a lecture for the Scottish
Genealogy Society, which he delivered on October 15, 1987. Soon
after that, it was published as a journal article
That article was pointed out to Augustine Patterson Little III (Pat), a
tax accountant from the American state of Georgia, by his wife Sally.
They were already involved in Scottish heritage studies wtih the
Clan MacLaren Society. Pat looked up Dr. Johnnie and tried to talk
him into forming a group for people with the surname Little, a project
in which he had absolutely no interest. However, by St. Andrew's
Day (November 30) in 1991, he had been convinced to change his mind and
established the Clan Little Society. He designed a tartan for the
event, which is registered with the Scottish Tartan Authority
It combines a toned down version of the Wallace red, black, and
yellow design with the traditional border shepherd's black and white
The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) would be held at the upcoming
"Roots '93 Gathering," billed as the first-ever gathering of Border and
Lowland clans. It included a series of events held between May
21st and 31st at Dumfries. In that same year, Dr. Johnnie received
his ensigns armorial (coat of arms) from the Lord Lyon and John M.
Mason, MBE (Member of the British Empire) wrote a march for the Clan
entitled "The Reivers of Meikledale" with words by Captain A. C. Little.
Hear the March
At that gathering, it became apparent that Americans and Scots had
different views of who should be a member of the Society. Dr.
Johnnie thought that anyone who wanted to be a member of the Clan Little
should demonstrate their relationship to the Scottish Littles by
genealogical records. He knew this would keep the group pure and
legitimate. The Americans thought anyone with an interest in the
topic and the money to pay dues should be a member. They knew this
would help the group grow and prosper.
They were both right, of course, but that did not prevent them from
arguing back and forth and finally splitting apart. They even
rejected the obvious and reasonable resolution of having two classes of
membership—one for those who could demonstrate a family relationship,
and another for those who supported the celebration of Scottish roots.
On August 8, 1994, the Americans registered "The Clan Little
Society, U.S.A., Ltd." as a non-profit corporation in Pat's home state
of Georgia. On August 21, 2000, recognizing the opportunity to
sign up new members in Canada, the organization changed its name to
"Clan Little Society, North America, Ltd." It is classified as a
501(c)(7) social and recreational organization.
Dr. Johnnie was able to secure arms for the Clan Little Society from the
Lord Lyon on 8th September 1997. The four linked red rings on a
gold background represent the interlocked branches of the Society.
The winged stirrup represents the prowess of the reivers as light
horsemen. A silver St. Andrew's Cross on a black background is
common to all Border Little arms, personal or corporate. That same
year he petitioned for and received a guidon (standard), which
recognizes arms bearing citizens who hold leadership positions.
The next year, on October 19, 1998, Augustine Pattterson Little III died
of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known as ALS or "Lou Gehrig's
Leo William Little studied psychology at the University of Central
Florida in his birthplace of Orlando, FL and then earned a degree in
Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, where he
spent the rest of his life. He used historical records to trace his
lineage back to his great-great-grandfather Thomas Little, who was born
in Alabama in 1816. Then, he "hit a brick wall." After testing his DNA
at Family Tree DNA
identified three distant cousins. By pooling their family records, the
cousins were able to trace their roots all the way back to 1680. He went
on to establish the Little DNA Project
, which is stil active today.
He would discover many unique genealogical patterns, which bear titles
such as L-193. In fact, all genetic findings by Family Tree DNA are
named with the L in honor of our own Leo Little. On July 3, 2005, his
work was highlighted in a TIME magazing article entitled "Can DNA Reveal
Your Roots?" Leo was a member of the Association of Professional
Genealogists, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and the
Austin Genealogical Society who continued his pioneering work until his
death in the Spring of 2008.
After Dr. Johnnie's wife died in 2000, he continued to lead the Society
to the best of his ability despite the physical and mental effects of
advancing age. He lived alone shuttered up in his house, where he
was found dead in May of 2007 just days before his 85th birthday.
He had a grand funeral, to which several important people sent
For several years the "Clan Little Society, Scotland & Worldwide"
was kept alive by its Quartermaster in Dundee, Ian Stewart Little.
About a year after Dr. Johnnie's death, Ian and the society placed
a marker near the site of the ancient clan that has been visited by
many of us and enjoyed vicariously by all.
Ian Little arranged and hosted several AGMs and, in the Spring of 2013,
arranged to have this very significant grave marker cleaned and
Ian Little also led the successful effort to have the Clan Little
Society represented at the 700th anniversary celebrations of the 1314
Battle of Bannockburn (when Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of
Edward II) at Stirling.
In 2013, the Scottish branch of the Clan Little Society and its treasury
of some two thousand pounds was delivered to the rightful heir to the
title "Little of Morton Rigg." Nothing has been seen of that
money, the member list, or the website since.
The Clan Little Society in New Zealand & Australia and another in
North America are still going strong and their contact information is
available using the buttons at the top of this page.
The Historic Scottish Building known as The Meikledale Farmhouse
is still where it was in 1736.
The ancient stone known as The Grey Wether
is still out on the lawn. It is five feet tall with a girth of
about eight and a half feet, but seems to be on its side now. "The
stone is a common greywacke, or whinstone of the Silurian series, rough
1 - James Moir, Ed. The Actis and Deidis of the Illustere and Vaileand Campioun Schir William Wallace Knicht of Ellerslie. Scottish Text Society. 1889. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons. (Back to text)
2 - George Chalmers, Caledonia: An historical and topographical account of North Britain from the most ancient to the present times, Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1890. Vol. 6, p. 488; citing Cosmo Innes. Liber Sancte Marie de Melros, Munimenta Vetustiora Monasterii de Melros (2 vols.), Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1837, Item 128. pp. 119-120. (Back to text)
3 - Cosmo Innes. Liber Sancte Marie de Melros, Munimenta Vetustiora Monasterii de Melros (2 vols.), Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1837, Item 39. pp. 30-33, specifically p. 32. (Back to text)
4 - Liber S. Thome de
Aberbrothoc: Registorum Abbacie de Aberbrothoc pars prior, Registrum
Vetus munimentaque eidem coetanea complectens 1178-1329 [The Book of St.
Thomas of Arbroath from the Registry of Arbroath Abbey, Part 1: The Old
Register, 1178-1329]. 1848. Edinburgh: ASIN:B002EWX0D6, p. 96. (Back to text)
5 - David Laing, Registrum
Domus de Soltre: Necnon ecclesie collegiate S. Trinitatis prope
Edinburgh, etc. [Charters of the Hospital of Soltre, of Trinity College,
Edinburgh, and other collegiate churches in Mid Lothian]. 1861. Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, p. 19. (Back to text)
6 - Joseph Bain, ed. Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland preserved in Public Records Office. 4 vol. 1881-84. Edinburgh: Vol. 3, Doc. 1420. (Back to text)
7 - Caithness and Sutherland records. Miscellaneous documents. (Vol. 1). London, 1909, p. 105. (Back to text)
8 - Registrum honoris de Morton: A series of ancient charters of the earldom of Morton, with other original papers. 2 vol. 1853. Edinburgh, Vol. 2, pp. 55-56. No. 71. (Back to text)
9 - George Burnett (Ed.) Rotuli scaccarii regum scotorum [The exchequer rolls of Scotland], v. 1-23 1264-1600. Edinburgh, 1878-1908, p. 563. (Back to text)
10 - Registrum honoris de Morton<: A series of ancient charters of the earldom of Morton, with other original papers. 2 vol. 1853. Edinburgh, Vol. 2, p. 16. (Back to text)
11 - Rymer's Foedera with Syllabus, (Vol. 8, Oct-Dec, 1398), p. 58. (Back to text)
12 - David Laing, Registrum Domus de
Soltre: Necnon ecclesie collegiate S. Trinitatis prope Edinburgh, etc.
[Charters of the Hospital of Soltre, of Trinity College, Edinburgh, and
other collegiate churches in Mid Lothian]. 1861. Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, p. xliv. (Back to text)
13 - John D. Hyslop & Robert Hyslop. Langholm as it was: A history of Langholm and Eskdale from the earliest time. 1912. Sunderland: Hills & Co., p. 209. (Back to text)
14 - Donald Campbell Little. Descendants of Col. John Little, Esq., of Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. 1951. Edwardsville, KS: Forest Lake. (Back to text)
15 - Robert Bruce Armstrong. The
history of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchopedale, and the
Debateable Land. Pt. I. From the Twelfth Century to 1530. 1883, D.
Douglas. Clan Douglas Society. Appendix IV. (Back to text)
16 - Sir William Fraser (compiler). Inventory of the Maxwell Muniments at Terregles, 1276-1669. 1865. p. 6, No. 27. (Back to text)
17 - L. Jessie Wilsmore, (Ed.) Fragmentary memories of bygone days, modes and manners. 1913. Woking & London, UK:Unwin Brothers/Gresham Press. (Back to text)
18 - George MacDonald Fraser. The steel bonnets: The story of the Anglo-Scottish border reivers. 1971. London: Barrie & Jenkins. (Back to text)
19 - Keith M. Brown et al, (Eds.) The records of the parliaments of Scotland to 1707, (St. Andrews, 2007-2016), Item 1587/7/70 [cf. NAS, PA2/13, ff. 105r-108b]. Based upon Thomas Thomson and Cosmo Innes, (Eds.) The acts of the parliaments of Scotland 1124-1707 in 12 folio volumes. House of Commons, Edinburgh, 1814-1875 which, in turn, is based upon Sir John Skene of Curriehill, The lawes and actes of parliament. Robert Waldegrave, Edinburgh, 1597. (Back to text)
20 - Robert Riddle Stodart. Scottish
arms: Being a collection of armorial bearings, A.D. 1370-1678,
reproduced in facsimile from contemporary manuscripts, with heraldic and
genealogical notes (Vol. 2). Edinburgh: William Paterson. 1881. Citing memoranda supplied by Robert Bruce Armstrong. p. 244. (Back to text)
21 - L. Jessie Wilsmore, (Ed.) Fragmentary memories of bygone days, modes and manners. 1913. Woking & London, UK:Unwin Brothers/Gresham Press. (Back to text)
22 - Edward J. Cowan, ed. Chronicles of Muckledale: Being the memoirs of Thomas Beattie of Muckledale, 1736-1827. (Back to text)
23 - John D. Hyslop & Robert Hyslop. Langholm as it was: A history of Langholm and Eskdale from the earliest time. 1912. Sunderland: Hills & Co. (Back to text)
24 - William Little of Liverpool & Windermere. Family papers called Border Records – Lytil, undated, probably in the late 19th Century. (Back to text)
25 - J. C. Little. A thousand years: The Littles and their forebears. The Scottish Genealogist: The Quarterly Journal of the Scottish Genealogy Society, 35(2), pp. 45-62. June 1988. (Back to text)
26 - "Little of Morton Rigg" clan tartan, ITI number 2349 (1991). Slog: KWK:YKR, Colour Sequence: KWKWKRKRKY. (Back to text)
27 - John D. Hyslop & Robert Hyslop. Langholm as it was: A history of Langholm and Eskdale from the earliest time. 1912. Sunderland: Hills & Co., p. 52. (Back to text)