Balneaves Name Origin

The surname BALNEAVES is of Scottish origin from the lands of Balneaves in the parish of Kinkell in Angus, which in Latin documents appears as de villa nativorum. There is still a small farm near the old place called Balneaves. The old house has long since disappeared, but the site is still marked by three aged trees in a field opposite the manse of Linkell. Laurence de Balnavis was present at the perambulation of the boundaries of Kyrknes and Louchor in 1395. Balnevis of Hallhill, Fife, (c.1539) was described by John Knox as “a very learned and pious man. ” In 1541 ‘Henry Benese was on the Justice Ayre at Jedburgh and in 1587 John Balnaves was scribe to the Assembly of Perth. Many individuals of the names settled in Athol under the Murrays.


The families of Balneaves of Hallhill and of Carnbody were branches of Balneaves of Balneaves. ‘The estate early passed to the ‘Frasers, and Thomas Fraser of Lovat granted a charter of the lands of Balneaves to George, fifth Lord Glammis in 1501.

In the first volume of the Hamilton Papers we have a wide variety of spellings of this name: Banese 1541, Balnavis, Benneyse and Bennesse 1542, Bannese, Bennese Bennase, Bannesse all in 1543. Bannavis and Balnauys 1531, Balneavs 1689, Bannavees 1652.

A document concerning Henry Balnaves (not Balneaves), the Kirkcaldy born Scottish reformer and close associate of John Knox, was sold at Southerby’s in London in 1974. The document, signed by Henry II of France, is an order to pay a sum of money to the jailer of Rouen prison to jail him for 250 days. Balnaves and Knox were among the Scottish reformers sent to France in galleys when St. Andrews Castle capitulated in 1574. Balnaves, who died in Edinburgh in 1579, wrote ‘The Confession of Faith’ while imprisoned in Rouen.

A wee bit about Scotland

Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in
origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTl simply means a Gaelic speaker. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.

7 thoughts on “Balneaves Name Origin”

  1. Some really select articles on this site, saved to bookmarks .

  2. Excellent points made. Thanks for this article.

  3. love the site, very nice and meaningful, keep it up.

    • Thanks Beatrice. I’m very proud of my heritage, it’s great that some people appreciate what I write. All the best. Btw do you follow me on twitter? @kenbalneaves

  4. My wee Scots mom (now gone to wander god’s “Highlands and Islands”) was Isabella Balneaves who married my Dad, (now also deceased) who was in Scotland in the RCAF during WWII. My brother Bruce was born there in 1942 and I, at war’s end, in Vancouver, BC, Canada in 1945. Other Balneaves also came to Canada post-war. Thanks for your Balneaves efforts to keep us all knowledgeable about our wonderful Scots Balneaves heritage……!

    • I’m pleased you liked my post. I’ve been away from Scotland for 47 years now but I still consider it home, Edinburgh, being my home town. I see your Mum won the battle of the names. Scott and Bruce, two classic Scottish names.

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