Tulloch in Westray, Orkney, Scotland

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Westray, Orkney, Scotland
Year range
1418 - 1900

The surname Tulloch is the tenth most common surname on the Island of Westray, the third most populous of the Orkney Islands. In 1901, Tullochs (including Tullock, which seems, at times, interchangeable) comprised 2.0% of the population of the Island.[1][2]

The Tulloch family were first recorded near Montrose, in Northeast Scotland, in 1363. The family were minor lairds and clergyman, known as the "Tullochs of Bonnington". One of this family, Thomas Tulloch, was appointed Bishop of Orkney in 1418, which at that time was part of Norway. Bishop Thomas was one of the Scottish nobles who negotiated the transfer of Orkney to Scotland in 1468 as part of the marriage of Margaret of Norway to the Scottish king. Noltland Castle, in the centre of Westray, was said to have been founded by Bishop Thomas, although most was built in the 1560s by a later Bishop.[3]

Histories of the Northern Isles recall that Bishop Thomas oversaw the settlement of many Scottish priests in the local churches, including many from his family. This was so widespread and successful that the 1851 census, four hundred years later, recorded more Tullochs in the Orkneys than any other county in Scotland, and Tullochs in Orkney and Shetland comprised more than half the Tullochs in the entire country. The parish of Westray and Papa Westray recorded the third highest number of Tullochs in the country after nearby North Ronaldshay and Northmavine parish in Shetland. [4]

Map showing the North Orkney Islands
Map showing the North Orkney Islands
The Tullochs married into a noble 'udaller' family, becoming the Tullochs of Ness, and also continued in the clergy for several generations. For example, sir Nicholas Tulloch was vicar of Westray in the late 1500s, although he seems to have been based in Moray, where he was also vicar of Ruthen, chaplain of Logie. Jerome Tulloch was subchantor of Orkney in 1560, covering the Islands of Rousay and Egilsay, just south of Westray. Jerome's nephew James Tulloch was then vicar of Rousay and Egilsay in 1600.

There are three references to Tullochs living on Westray in the 17th century: in 1635 a James Tulloch of Breck was listed borrowing money from a merchant.[5] In 1641 an Edward Tulloch was listed in the Earldom Rentals as owning Midhouse and Aikeris (Aikerly) and a Robert Tulloch of Aikeris was named in a legal case in 1651.[6][7]

The Old Parish Registers in Westray date back to 1733 for Births and 1805 for Marriages.[8] A total of 92 Tullochs are recorded in the birth records. Of these, over half can be traced back to the earliest listed person, John Tulloch, born 1751, son of James Tulloch. Most of this family were farmers or fishermen, farming around 10 acres at Nearhouse, in the northeast of the Island and near the previously mentioned Aikerly. In the mid nineteenth century there was significant emigration from Orkney to North America, and this included James Tulloch, a great-grandson of John Tulloch, who moved to Canada and where a number of Tulloch descendants now live.

Many of the other recorded Tullochs are descendants of Hugh Tulloch, born in 1798, who farmed 50 acres near Pow. This farm is located near the earlier mentioned estate of Midhouse. In the 1880s, Hugh's great grandson, William Reid Tulloch, moved to the Orkney Mainland. Otherwise, his descendants appear to have stayed on the Island.

In the 1760s, James and Helen Tulloch moved from nearby Stronsay Island to Westray. One of their descendents, David Tulloch, ran a Public House until he died in 1890. It is notable that his will only named a single surviving family member, a niece called Jemima Tulloch, whose married name was Leslie. It appears that there are no surviving Tulloch descendants from this line.

A number of other Tullochs from neighbouring North Ronaldsay also moved to Westray in the 1800s including William Tullock, minister of Westray Baptist Church from 1806 and Simon Tulloch who moved to Westray in 1845 to join his wife's family.[9]


  1. Based on 40/1956 = 2.0% - Total Population
  2. Orkney Surnames
  3. Noltland Castle
  4. Orkney recorded 416 Tullochs, and Shetland 400, out of a total of 1,620. North Ronaldshay recorded 187, Northmaven 175 followed by Westray with 55.
  5. Kirkwall in the Orkneys
  6. Rentals of the ancient earldom
  7. Sinclairs of Rapness, Westray
  8. Parish Registers - These registers are fully transcribed and available on FreeREG
  9. Baptist Church