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Kilgore/ Kilgour


Kilgore was accepted by CDSNA as a sept in July 1985.  Also listed as a sept of clan MacDuff. 

 Authenticity of this surname having a valid/historical connection to Clan Douglas is questionable.  It would be valuable to have citations showing a valid connection.

 John Kilgo posted on his website a Genealogy of the Kilgore Family and quotes a section of From Kilgo Cousins and Kin by Darrell Brock:

"According to information contributed by Barbara Conway in The Kilgore Family Tree, “one of the first to bear the name Kilgour and to propagate the line was a foundling that was left on the steps of the St. Thomas church in Falkland Palace. The child was raised by the kirk of the church and assumed his name. The child was left just after a great battle in which the clan of Douglas had almost been wiped out. Legend has it that the child was a Douglas and was left at the church to save its life as the Douglas clan had fallen out of standing with the present King and was outlawed by the crown.  The Douglas family has a long and deep history in the pages of Scotish history. The present royal family of England trace their ancestors to the Douglas family.”

This story relating the Douglas family to the Kilgore family through an anonymous foundling has been retold for so long it is often regarded as fact.  It may be based, in part, on the “lost” descendants of the Earl of Ormand, one of the five Douglas lords killed in 1455 at Arkinholm.  Sources claim Ormand had a child but no records exist documenting the child’s history.  But on Rootsweb, part of the ancestry.com community, is found the following post from Vickie Miller indicating again, that the foundling story is anything but veritable.

 From: "Vickie Miller" <vickie7293@msn.com>

Subject: [KILGORE] Kilgore-Douglas

Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2008 10:26:06 -0500

Recently the Douglas question has been raised again regarding the Kilgore family. To refresh the memories of those who may not be acquainted with this question, early Kilgore researchers made the assertion published in 1935 in the book "Charles Kilgore of King's Mountain" by Hugh Addington that the Kilgores were descended from Lord Douglas of Scotland-the so-called "Black Douglas" which meant that the Kilgore name had originally been Douglas. If you look up the name in the Scottish registry of names you'll find this info: The earliest written record of the Kilgore name is this entry: John Kilgour's wife, Janet December 14, 1690, had a child baptized named Mar---Witnesses: Tom Pierce, George Tasker & etal From (Baptisms of November-December 1690 for the earliest Coupar Angus Parish Register. Reproduced by courtesy of the Church of Scotland) also included in the book Thomas Kilgore 1712-1822 and his Descendants" by Evelyn Yates Carpenter. The enrtry also states that the first known use of the name Kilgore was in connection to a child found on a doorstep of a church and given the NAME of the Church and that local tradition claimed that the child was a junior member of the local powerful Douglas family who'd been recently outlawed and that the child (presumedly male) was left behind to protect it as 'such things were known to happen.' NOTE: the Historical society makes no claim as to the validity of local tradition-merely includes it in their info. 

This is the same information that Judge G. W. Kilgore received when he also wrote the Scottish Historical Society inquiring about the origin of the Kilgore name. Since there might have been validity to the local tradition, Jerry Penley (who is now sadly deceased and who was the founder of the Kilgore list on Rootsweb) made a point of pursuing this matter. Jerry Penley was an outstanding and thorough researcher as any of those who ever had the privilege of working with him can attest. He made contact with Douglas researchers whose research he found to be sound. The response was that all members of the Douglas family were accounted for and their lines can be traced which means that our little foundling was NOT a legitimate member of the Douglas family and also explains why our new member Bob Shaw has been unable to make a connection to the Douglas family-it doesn't exist. It's entirely possible that the child was born out of wedlock to a member of the Douglas family and left on the doorstep; but he was not a legitimate scion of the family. Jerry's findings can be found by searching the Kilgore list archives at:http://boards.rootsweb.com/surname.aspx. Type in the name Kilgore and it should take you to the list. The entries should be found around 1995-1996. Sorry, I'm not more specific than that-but I'm still on pokey old dial-up because of our location and am just not inclined to search through the Archives. If anyone wishes to find them-type in the word Douglas and sooner or later, Jerry's info he obtained from the Douglas researchers should be found. As to the assertions by early Kilgore researchers, it seems they took "local tradition" one step further and made it fact. Jerry Penley later took that "fact" and made it an unproven assertion. It should be noted that there is absolutely no proof that the foundling child was in fact the ancestor of the Kilgores of America. Note: that the Historical society included only the first known instance of the name-it doesn't list any possible subsequent findings of the name (nor did it give a location of the church). Considering that Kilgore wasn't a preeminent name in Scotland -such as Stuart, Hamilton etc; it may be that researchers simply didn't look all that hard into the origin of the name Kilgore.

 While we're on the subject of early assertions made by Kilgore researchers,we might as well tackle the "Kill" and "Gore" question. Judge G. W. Kilgore claimed that the name Kilgore was derived from the habit of the "Black Douglas" to scream the words Kill and Gore at his enemies in the heat of battle. Note that the historical society claimed that the child (if indeed he was our ancestor) was given the name of the church. Note too-that the Black Douglas would almost certainly have been screaming his war cry in Scottish Gaelic-not the King's English. So I wouldn't place much faith in this origin story either.

 Many Kilgores who have visited Sotland return saying the story of the foundling is accepted as fact in Scotland.  In theory, this name should be removed from the sept list since there appears to be no demonstrative proof for Kilgore but the result would be disenfranchisement of an untold number of current Clan Douglas members.  The question then becomes one of whether we remain true to our committment to preserve and promote the customs, traditions and heritage of Clan Douglas and its Septs – and Kilgore as a sept of Douglas is certainly part of that tradition – or do we remove this name from our list of septs because it lacks proof of valid and historical connection with Douglas Clan.  The Bylaws clearly state other names will be added… [emphasis mine] and no procedure exists in the Bylaws for removal of a name from our sept list.  The decision is left to this (and future) CDSNA executive Boards.  It may be, in Time, a more authentic connection will be found.



Kilgore, John. Genealogy of the Kilgore Family. http://www.jkilgo.com/Origin.htm

Miller, Vickie. Ancestry.com post. http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/KILGORE/2008-09/1220887566