James Crawford Little of Morton Rig
MD (Brist) FRCP (Edin), FRCPsych, DPM (Duneirn)
Arms: Sable, a saltire Argent between a rod of Aesculapius in chief, two quill pens in saltire in base, a garb in the dexter flank all Or and a sun of the last charged with a rose Gules in the sinister flank
Crest: a fortified kirk Gules
Motto: FIDEI SEMPER COTICULA CRUX
My arms display in chief a rod and serpent, symbolic of a working lifetime in the medical profession in clinical practice, teaching and research. In base, the crossed quill pens represent many years in office as Hon.Editor or Hon.Secretary of medical societies, for papers in scientific medical journals, and for books and articles. In the dexter flank the garb or sheaf of corn is for generations of farming forebears in or adjacent to the one time Debateable Land in the old West March of the Scottish Border. (At my request, for my banner the late Patrick Bardan depicted the garb as a sheaf of oats.) In the sinister flank the sun charged with a red rose is open to more than one interpretation. The sun can be for the Solway Firth, in the catchment area of which I have spent half my life, while the rose can be for England where I spent the other half, and to which I owe so much. not least for the "red, red, rose"radiating warmth and light.
The crest of a fortified red kirk is for Thomas Little, the earliest traced forebear in the direct male line. He is my great (x 8) grandfather, born in 1541 in the final and most active of the three centuries of Border warfare, 1296 to 1603. He dwelt in Redkirk parish on the Solway shore but his birthplace is not known.
During Thomas Little's lifetime the village, kirk, and probably the tower house were all engulfed by the treacherous Solway tides. The parish of Redkirk or Renpatrick was then absorbed into neighbouring Gretna parish which is the reason for Thomas Little to lie buried in the kirkyard of the Gretna parish kirk at Gretna Green. In the same lair lie several of the five succeeding generations of eldest sons, all called John Little, all farmers in Gretna, and by family tradition all born on a Sunday.
My motto, Fidei Semper Coticula Crux (The Cross is Always the Test of Faith) is a variant of that of the last Chief (1672) of the subsequently heidless clan. David Little of that Ilk, Laird of Meikledale, Chief of Clan Little in Ewesdale, Eskdale and Wauchopedale, following the ruthless post —1603 Pacification of the Border ended up as a groom for work horses in the King's stables at Windsor —the ultimate humiliation for the chief of a clan of former Border Reivers who "held in contempt all who went on foot", and who, on both sides of the Border, were considered in military circles to be the finest light cavalry in Europe.
The Border Littles are a Scottish clan. As defined in an Act of the Scots Parliament in 1587 there are 34 clans in the Highlands and Islands, and 17 on the Border, most in the West March. The 'Littelis' are listed in "The Roll of the clannis that hes capilanis chieffis and chiftanis quhome on thai depend oftymes agains the willis of thair landlordis alsweill on the bordor as heilandis and sum spe'eale personis of branches of the saidis clannis". A second Roll lists the soi-disant "clans" that simply follow the landowner.
Alan Little was a descendant of Richard le Lytle of the fifth post-Conquest Anglo-Norman generation of a powerful family in Cheshire. Richard le Lytle, was the third son of Richard de Overton, himself a third son in the extended family descended via Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas, from the ruthless Marcher Lord, Hugh "Lupus" (the Wolf), Comte d'Avranches. Earl of Chester, and nephew of William the Conqueror. Landless younger sons of younger sons on the fringe of powerful Norman families had to hit the road and fend for themselves. Alan Little was granted lands at Cairntable in Ayrshire by Walter Fitzalan, High Stewart of Scotland, his former neighbour over the county border in Shropshire, (They were to end their days together as lay brothers of Melrose Abbey). In Ayrshire the Littles intermarried with Crawfords and Wallaces. Edward Little, Sir William Wallace's nephew, "my sisters sonne so dere", fought at his uncle's side in the initial guerilla phase of the Wars of Independence in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire. In the following century Nicol Little was one of the "Conservators for the Peace for Lochmabenston" ie the Cloch Mabon, the huge boulder by the Solway at Gretna where the opposing Wardens of the English and Scottish West Marches met periodically to sort disputes and administer rough justice.
In 1426 Simon Little, "generally reckoned to be the first fully established chiel of the name" received from James I King of Scots a —Charter of Confirmation... of Lands in Ewesdale Meikledale, Kirkton, Sorbie" etc.'' Being confirmed was an earlier charter granted during the King's exile by his uncle Robert Stewart at a time he was when he was "Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland," which latter position he held from 1406 until his death in 1420. Most of the Little clansmen would be tenants of the great landowners of Eskdale and Ewesdale —in succession the Douglases to 1455. the Maxwells to 1603 and thereafter the Scotts, Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry. Simon and succeeding chiefs, however held their lands as feudal tenants in capite, ie direct from the Crown. In England the astute William I declared himself king of all the land, King of England. In Scotland the king only owned a tiny fraction of the land of Scotland. He was king of the people, King of (the) Scots, a difference which English historians either ignore or are incapable of understanding. A later Simon Little, grandfather of David the last chief. was chief at the Union of the Crowns when Border warfare officially came to all end. The chiefly line can be traced down to yet another Simon Little in Nittyholme, Canonbie in 1745 — "the linear heir male of this family".
The Littles of Liberton.
In c. 1500 Edward Little, probably from his arms a second son of the Chief, went to Edinburgh, set up as a cloth merchant in the Boothraw and became involved in town politics. William Little. the eldest of his three sons was killed at Flodden in 1513, but his brothers prospered. The family later moved out of town to nearby Liberton. Clement Litill, 2nd of Liberton, advocate, died in 1580 leaving his now priceless collection of three hundred books to the town. They were then gifted to the town's new municipal University as the Clement Litill Bequest. He is remembered as the "Founder of Edinburgh University Library". His younger brother William Litill, 3rd of Liberton, who died on-24th November 1601, was twice Provost of Edinburgh towards the end of the 16th Century. The Litill brothers were involved with Lawson and others in planning for the new University subsequently built on the site of Kirk o Field, blown up in 1567 by the murderers of Mary Queen of Scots' second husband, Lord Darnley.
At a ceremony in November 2001 at the Litill Memorial in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Clan Little Society donated a plaque in memory of the brothers Clement and William Litill. The plaque was unveiled by the present Lord Provost on the 400th Anniversary to the day of his distant predecessor's death.
The Clan of the Sword and the Cross
Other Little clansmen turned from the rough, Godless and violent life of the Border travelling, not northwards to commerce and politics, but to the contemplative life of a monk in one of the religious houses thirty miles to the west. In the 16th Century William Litill was a monk in the Abbey of Sacre Coeur, John Little in 1300 and a later John Little in the 16th Century, were both monks in the Monastery of Sacre Bois, and Robert Little was Warden of the Convent of the Greyfriars in Dumfries where two centuries earlier Bruce had slain the Comyn before the High Altar.
A great diaspora accompanied and followed the imposition of relative law and order through the Borders in the 1600s. With subsequent agricultural innovations many Littles took to the settled life of the farmer in their native East Dumfriesshire and in Cumberland, now open to an influx from across the Border. An exceptional number took to the blacksmith's trade. Many were banished or fled to King James's Protestant Plantations in Ulster.
Both at home and overseas the old saying still holds, "If you see a Little a horse won't be far away". The descendants in England of Matthew Little, Baron Baillie of Langholm, [iii] kept up the Reiver cavalry tradition: General Sir Archibald Little, commanding officer 9th Lancers in the Indian Mutiny, his brother the dapper "Josey" Little, King's Dragoon Guards, who won the Grand National on 'Chandler' in 1848, and the General's sons, Archibald Cosmo Little, 5th Lancers and Brigadier Malcolm Orme Little. commanding officer 9th Lancers in the Boer War, and grandson Col. Malcolm A. A. Little, Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) killed in action in Italy in 1944.
In the World Wars of the 20th century stirrups gave way to the wings of "the cavalry of the air ".[iv] At least three sons of the old time reiving Little clan achieved distinction in aerial warfare, while a fourth was decorated for high courage test flying experimental aircraft.
The demi lyon of the Little chiefs' crest holds a sword in one paw and St Andrew's cross in the other. An impressive number of descendants of the ancient Eskdale clan became clergy or doctors on the one hand or cavalrymen and military airmen on the other, hence the winged stirrup in the Clan Society's arms. The Janus headed nature of the clan is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the lives of two twentieth century sons of the Border clan, both by coincidence born in Melbourne, Australia. Fighter pilot Robert Alexander Little RNAS, DSC and Bar, DSO and Bar, CdeG with Star. killed in action in France in May 1918 at the age of 22, ranks in the top 15 Aces of all the combatant nations of the Great War of 1914-18, and is Australia's Ace of Aces. The Cross is represented by The Right Reverend Thomas Francis Little, recently retired 6th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.
Clan Little Society
This international clan society was founded on St.Andrew's Day 1991 with four overseas branches in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. "All is not gold that glisters" [v]; there are at least five sources of the surname Little, four of which have no connexion with Scotland, having their family roots in England, County Monaghan in Ulster, Flanders and Germany. Some ninety percent of Clan Little Society members have been accepted on submitting reasonably sound evidence of descent from the Scottish Border clan.
Arms were granted by Lord Lyon on 8th September 1997, blazoned Sable, a saltire Argent, in chief a winged Viking stirrup Or, on a chief Or four annulets interlaced fessways Gules. The four linked rings represent the interlocked branches of the Society. A silver St Andrew's Cross on a black ground is common to all Border Little aems, personal or corporate.
Clan Little Society, Dumfries, Scotland. Founder and Guardian Dr J.C.Little of Morton Rig