Discussion:
Wild Boar Tales
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c***@dickinson.uk.net
2018-12-05 13:27:23 UTC
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I've come across three or four families in Cumbria that have a family legend about a wild boar.

Basically the story goes that a ferocious boar is killed by a medieval ancestor, who gets rewarded with land.

The Gilpin version is here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Boar_of_Westmorland

The Towerson family (of Swinside in Ennerdale) embroider this with the idea that their ancestor saved the lord and his newly married wife by killing the boar, and that the family used 'Faith' as a forename to remember their loyalty.

"And Multon's name has passed away,
Within the homestead of Swineshyde
Long shall a Tourson abide;
And 'mongst the daughters of thy race
The name of Faith shall still find place,
In memory of that hour of need
When faithful arm did gallant deed."

In the case, of the Towerson 'Faith' story, it's clearly absurd as the name 'Faith' was first used in 1781 and inherited from the maternal line.

There does seem to have neen a genealogist in these parts earning a decent living in the 1880s/1890s constructing such stories for the local yeomanry.

Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories, or something similar in other geographical areas?

Chris
[with apologies if you've read something similar from me - I think I may have posted something somewhere about 15 years ago]
taf
2018-12-05 16:43:43 UTC
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Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories,
or something similar in other geographical areas?
A Scottish family immediately came to mind, the Beard/Bairds, who had such a legend. One version can be seen here: "The legend recounts that the first Baird saved William the Lion from a wild boar - the killing of a wild boar also bearing similarities to the origin of Clan Campbell." [Note: this is from on one of the many mostly-unreliable websites dealing with Scottish 'clan' origins, but I have seen it enough places that I think it is an 'authentic legend' - by which I don't mean to imply that the event actually happened, only that it really is a legend passed among the family and not a late-20th-century tourist industry invention as is the case with some of the clan material.] I am unfamiliar with the Campbell origin tale mentioned here.

https://www.heritageofscotland.com/clans/Baird/78
c***@dickinson.uk.net
2018-12-05 17:33:50 UTC
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Post by taf
Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories,
or something similar in other geographical areas?
A Scottish family immediately came to mind, the Beard/Bairds, who had such a legend. One version can be seen here: "The legend recounts that the first Baird saved William the Lion from a wild boar - the killing of a wild boar also bearing similarities to the origin of Clan Campbell." [Note: this is from on one of the many mostly-unreliable websites dealing with Scottish 'clan' origins, but I have seen it enough places that I think it is an 'authentic legend' - by which I don't mean to imply that the event actually happened, only that it really is a legend passed among the family and not a late-20th-century tourist industry invention as is the case with some of the clan material.] I am unfamiliar with the Campbell origin tale mentioned here.
https://www.heritageofscotland.com/clans/Baird/78
Thank you.

This might suggest, perhaps, that the legends have ancient roots in Scottish rather than English culture; even Norse settlement?

Chris
taf
2018-12-05 17:48:55 UTC
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Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
This might suggest, perhaps, that the legends have ancient roots in Scottish
rather than English culture; even Norse settlement?
Perhaps, but the geographical localization may not be directly cultural at all - it may just be that the north is where the wild boar persisted the longest, as was the case with other now-extinct-in-Britain mammals (some recently reintroduced), and hence was still within people's collective memories there when traditions like these came into vogue.

taf
c***@dickinson.uk.net
2018-12-05 18:11:43 UTC
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Post by taf
Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
This might suggest, perhaps, that the legends have ancient roots in Scottish
rather than English culture; even Norse settlement?
Perhaps, but the geographical localization may not be directly cultural at all - it may just be that the north is where the wild boar persisted the longest, as was the case with other now-extinct-in-Britain mammals (some recently reintroduced), and hence was still within people's collective memories there when traditions like these came into vogue.
taf
Indeed.

Cumbria was heavily forested until quite a late stage.

It is intereseting, though, that your source suggested that a legend of saving the king is at the root of many clans origins (I have no knowledge whether that is the case), so that might indicate a common cultural root even if the manifestation differs from region to region.

Though, I would expect that 'saving the king' and 'being rewarded' was common to just about any Pictish or Germanic culture.

Chris
Andrew Lancaster
2018-12-05 19:18:33 UTC
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Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Post by taf
Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
This might suggest, perhaps, that the legends have ancient roots in Scottish
rather than English culture; even Norse settlement?
Perhaps, but the geographical localization may not be directly cultural at all - it may just be that the north is where the wild boar persisted the longest, as was the case with other now-extinct-in-Britain mammals (some recently reintroduced), and hence was still within people's collective memories there when traditions like these came into vogue.
taf
Indeed.
Cumbria was heavily forested until quite a late stage.
It is intereseting, though, that your source suggested that a legend of saving the king is at the root of many clans origins (I have no knowledge whether that is the case), so that might indicate a common cultural root even if the manifestation differs from region to region.
Though, I would expect that 'saving the king' and 'being rewarded' was common to just about any Pictish or Germanic culture.
Chris
Being a loyal warrior for one's would-be monarch is still something rewarded in neo-medieval America today. Just see the presidential Twitter account.

Sorry, couldn't help it.
taf
2018-12-05 19:43:52 UTC
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Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories,
or something similar in other geographical areas?
It occurs to me that if you want to locate additional ones, a good place to start would be to look at families with boars on their arms, although given all of the apocryphal interpretations of family arms, there is a significant chicken-egg problem with these.

taf
c***@dickinson.uk.net
2018-12-06 21:59:19 UTC
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Post by taf
Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories,
or something similar in other geographical areas?
It occurs to me that if you want to locate additional ones, a good place to start would be to look at families with boars on their arms, although given all of the apocryphal interpretations of family arms, there is a significant chicken-egg problem with these.
taf
Yes. Chicken-Egg is very much part of the problem.

And thank you for your research in the following thread.

In this context, which also applies to families that don't have arms, or only assumed ones, the use of a farm name (Swinside, etc.) seems to be relevant.
taf
2018-12-06 01:35:21 UTC
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Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories,
or something similar in other geographical areas?
"It is also said, that in the reign of king Malcolm Canmore, a valiant knight, of the name of Gordon, came to Scotland, and was kindly received by that prince; and having killed a wild boar, which greatly infested the borders, the generous Malcolm gave him a grant of several lands in the Merse, or Berwickshire, which he called Gordon, after his own sirname. He settled there, took the boar's head for his armorial bearing, in memory of his having killed that monstrous animal; that he was progenitor of all the Gordons in Scotland"

Robert Douglas, The peerage of Scotland.


"The Pollards were gentry with land near Auckland Castle, seat of the Bishops of Durham. By tradition, each new Bishop of Durham was presented by the Pollards with a handsome falchion (a kind of sword), accompanied by a speech recalling how an ancestor ‘slew of old a mighty boar, and by performing this service we hold our lands.’"
Based on ‘Notes On The Folk-Lore Of The Northern Counties Of England And The Borders’, by William Henderson.
http://www.englishlanguageandhistory.com/?id=legend-pollards-lands-1


From Minstrals of Wandwemere (sic):

Bert de Gylpn drew of Normandie
From Walshelin his gentle blood,
Who haply heard by Bewley's sea,
The Angerins' bugles in the wood.
His crest, the rebus of his name,
A pineapple -- a pine of gold,
Was on his Norman shield;
and Sincere in word and deed, his fame extolled.
But Richard, having killed the boar,
With crested arm and olive shook
And sable boar on field of or,
For impress on his shield he took.
And well be won his honest arms,
And well be won his Kentmere lands,
He won them not in war's alarms,
Nor dipped in human blood his hands

https://books.google.com/books?id=arAfWBsvO1gC&pg=PA604


Arms of the XV Noble Tribes of North Wales
by Major Francis Jones, TD, MA, FSA.
Coat of Arms no 36, October 1958.

"EDNOWAIN BENDEW (lit. Ednowain the Fathead or Thickhead, but translated as Strong-head by the charitably-inclined).

Of Flintshire, descended from Beli Mawr: lived in the latter half of the eleventh century. His arms allude to one of his exploits — ” He killed a wild boar without help”. Argent a chevron sable between three boars’ heads couped of the second."

https://www.theheraldrysociety.com/articles/arms-of-the-xv-noble-tribes-of-north-wales/


"Clan Urquhart is of ancient Celtic origin. Associated during most of its history with the northeast of Scotland, the Clan derives its name from Glen Urquhart and Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. Traditional history traces the descent of the Urquharts from Conachar Mor, scion of the Royal House of Ulster, a mighty warrior and hunter who ruled over the territory around Urquhart Castle during prehistoric times. Hero of a Gaelic legend, Conachar Mor killed a wild boar of extraordinary fierceness from which no man had ever escaped. Conachar’s descendant, William de Urchard, the first Chief of the Clan whose name appears in written Scottish records, was a staunch supporter of Robert the Bruce."

http://indyscot.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SSI_2016_SPRING_NEWSLETTER.pdf

taf
c***@dickinson.uk.net
2018-12-06 20:02:57 UTC
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Post by taf
Post by c***@dickinson.uk.net
Can anyone cite any other families that have a wild boar in their histories,
or something similar in other geographical areas?
"It is also said, that in the reign of king Malcolm Canmore, a valiant knight, of the name of Gordon, came to Scotland, and was kindly received by that prince; and having killed a wild boar, which greatly infested the borders, the generous Malcolm gave him a grant of several lands in the Merse, or Berwickshire, which he called Gordon, after his own sirname. He settled there, took the boar's head for his armorial bearing, in memory of his having killed that monstrous animal; that he was progenitor of all the Gordons in Scotland"
Robert Douglas, The peerage of Scotland.
"The Pollards were gentry with land near Auckland Castle, seat of the Bishops of Durham. By tradition, each new Bishop of Durham was presented by the Pollards with a handsome falchion (a kind of sword), accompanied by a speech recalling how an ancestor ‘slew of old a mighty boar, and by performing this service we hold our lands.’"
Based on ‘Notes On The Folk-Lore Of The Northern Counties Of England And The Borders’, by William Henderson.
http://www.englishlanguageandhistory.com/?id=legend-pollards-lands-1
Bert de Gylpn drew of Normandie
From Walshelin his gentle blood,
Who haply heard by Bewley's sea,
The Angerins' bugles in the wood.
His crest, the rebus of his name,
A pineapple -- a pine of gold,
Was on his Norman shield;
and Sincere in word and deed, his fame extolled.
But Richard, having killed the boar,
With crested arm and olive shook
And sable boar on field of or,
For impress on his shield he took.
And well be won his honest arms,
And well be won his Kentmere lands,
He won them not in war's alarms,
Nor dipped in human blood his hands
https://books.google.com/books?id=arAfWBsvO1gC&pg=PA604
Arms of the XV Noble Tribes of North Wales
by Major Francis Jones, TD, MA, FSA.
Coat of Arms no 36, October 1958.
"EDNOWAIN BENDEW (lit. Ednowain the Fathead or Thickhead, but translated as Strong-head by the charitably-inclined).
Of Flintshire, descended from Beli Mawr: lived in the latter half of the eleventh century. His arms allude to one of his exploits — ” He killed a wild boar without help”. Argent a chevron sable between three boars’ heads couped of the second."
https://www.theheraldrysociety.com/articles/arms-of-the-xv-noble-tribes-of-north-wales/
"Clan Urquhart is of ancient Celtic origin. Associated during most of its history with the northeast of Scotland, the Clan derives its name from Glen Urquhart and Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. Traditional history traces the descent of the Urquharts from Conachar Mor, scion of the Royal House of Ulster, a mighty warrior and hunter who ruled over the territory around Urquhart Castle during prehistoric times. Hero of a Gaelic legend, Conachar Mor killed a wild boar of extraordinary fierceness from which no man had ever escaped. Conachar’s descendant, William de Urchard, the first Chief of the Clan whose name appears in written Scottish records, was a staunch supporter of Robert the Bruce."
http://indyscot.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SSI_2016_SPRING_NEWSLETTER.pdf
taf
Excellent. Thank you.

The poems all seem to be 19th century (I suppose it was a thing that Victorian gentle folk did in their spare time). Another step would be to pinpoint the era when each legend started.

This seems to be a very good subject for a university dissertation for someone.

Chris
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