The Boyd name is believed to have originally been a descriptive name deriving from the Gaelic word ‘buidhe’, meaning, ‘fair’ or ‘yellow’. The fair-haired man who received this name is believed to have been Robert, Nephew of Walter, the first high steward of Scotland. However, this is not confirmed as the high stewards were of Norman origin and were therefore unlikely to have used a name with Celtic origin.
Another explanation of the name is that it is from Norman or Saxon origin and that the Boyds were vassals of a Normal family named the, ‘de Morvilles’ due to their lands in and around Largs and Irivine – as in Gaelic, ‘boid’ means, from Bute.
Regardless of the origin of the name, the first recorded appearance of the family was by a Robertus de Boyd in 1205 – when he was said to have witnessed a contract between the Lord of Eglinton and the Burgh of Irvine.
The Boyds would then become staunch supporters of Scottish independence during the wars against England in the first half of the 14th century. Duncan Boyd was executed in 1306 for his support of the cause and Sir Robert Boyd was one of the main supporters of King Robert the Bruce and a commander at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. He was rewarded for his efforts in this conflict with lands in Ayrshire including Kilmarnock and Bondington. The family’s reputation would then be increased further as they were raised to peerage under the title, ‘Lords Boyd of Kilmarnock’, by James II.
However, with an increased reputation came an increased amount of enemies and those in opposition to the Boyds conspired against the family and convinced the King to summon Lord Boyd to appear in front of him to face charges in 1469. Boyd, realising that he would likely meet his demise were he to attend, instead escaped and his brother Alexander was instead summoned and executed for treason.
Today, the Boyd clan chiefship is currently unclaimed following the death of the last chief, Alistair Boyd, in 2009. The next in the line of succession would be his brother, Dr Robin Boyd, however, he has not yet claimed the title.