Sadly, the correct pronunciation of this name - "mingis" - appears to be dying out. It originated in Mesnières in Normandy and passed through England after the Norman Conquest (where the name became "Manners," the ancestors of the Duke of Rutland). Sir Robert de Menzies rose within the ranks of the court of King Alexander II, becoming chamberlain in 1249. He and his son were granted lands in Glen Lyon, Atholl, Rannoch, and Weem in Strathtay (where Menzies Castle, originally called Castle Weems, has been restored by the clan society). Alexander married the daughter of James, the High Steward of Scotland (whose descendants would originate the Stewart dynasty). Throughout the history of the clan, the first names of Alexander and David crop up frequently.
Alexander's son, Sir Robert, was a companion-in-arms of Robert the Bruce>. His rewards included land in Glendochart, Finlarig, Glenorchy and Durisdeer (some of it at the expense of the resident MacGregors>). In 1320, Thomas de Meineris was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Arbroath.
In the early 15th century, a David Menzies was a governor of Orkney and Shetland, at a time when they were still a possession of Norway. It was later in the 15th century that the 8th clan chief, Sir Robert Menzies, built the Place of Weem around 1488, not far from where Castle Menzies (pictured here) was created in the 16th century. The Menzies lands were made into a barony by King James IV in 1510.
As major landowners, the Menzies became involved in a number of feuds with their neighbours, including the Campbells> and the Stewarts> of Garth (who captured and destroyed the Menzies stronghold of Fortingale castle early in the 16th century). But in the 17th century conflicts involving Covenanters and the Civil War of King Charles I> and Cromwell, the Menzies from Weems joined forces with the Campbells and the Covenanters and the Pitfoddels branch supported the Marquis of Montrose. Major Duncan Menzies of Fornock led the charge which broke the line of the government troops at the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 (though there were also many Menzies on the opposing side). The Pitfoddels branch also supported the Jacobite uprisings in 1715 (Menzies of Culdares spent many years in exile as a result). In 1745, Menzies of Culdares was too old for active service but sent Bonnie Prince Charlie a fine, white horse. Nevertheless, many Menzies were at the battle of Culloden in 1746.
In 1665, Sir Alexander Menzies of that Ilk, from the Culdares line, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, a title which became extinct in 1910. He had survived the Civil war, having received no less than nine serious wounds. His brother had died fighting on the side of the Royalists at the battle of Worcester in 1651.
In 1737, a member of the Weems family line of Menzies introduced the larch tree from the Austrian Tyrol and that variety is now spread across the whole of Scotland.
In more recent times, a Menzies family established a chain of bookstalls in Edinburgh in the 1860s, which grew to be one of the leading newspaper and stationery chains in the country. In the 1950s, Sir Robert Menzies, a grandson of a Scot who had come to Australia in the 19th century gold rush, became prime minister of that country.
The senior Weems line died out in 1910 and in 1957 the Lyon Court was petitioned by Ronald Steuart Menzies (a branch of the Culdares family of Menzies) and he was awarded the name and arms of Menzies of that Ilk (clan chief). The present chief returned from Australia to live in the clan lands in Perthshire.
The Menzies clan motto is "Vil God I zal" which means "With God I shall".
Surnames regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Menzies clan include MacIndeor, MacMenzies, MacMinn, MacMonies, Means, Mein, Meine, Mennie, Meyners, Minn, Minnus, Monzie, Murchie and Murchison.
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