Popular Scottish Forenames - F/G

This page is one of a series giving the origins of popular first names in Scotland. See the link at the end of the page if you wish to go to sections relating to other letters of the alphabet.

Farquhar is more often found as a surname and is derived from the Gaelic "fear-char" meaning "friendly one". There are various spellings of this name in the early records and Fearchar Fada was a ruler of the kingdom of Dalriada (in what is now Argyll) in the 7th century. Farquharson (son of Farquhar) is the name of a Highland clan often found in Aberdeenshire.

Derived from the Gaelic "fear-ghur" meaning "the only choice", the name Fergus was a royal name amongst the Celts in Ireland and the Picts. Fergus mac Erc is reputed to have led the Scots from northern Ireland to the west coast of Scotland to establish the kingdom of Dalriada. The second Abbot of Iona was Fergus Brit (605-623AD). Followers of Fergus, Lord of Galloway, fought at the Battle of the Standard (1138). His descendants became the earls of Carrick. As a surname, MacFergus evolved into Ferguson/Fergusson and this surname spread across Scotland but particularly in Ayrshire amd Perthshire. Other forms of Fergus include Fearghas, Fearghus and Feargus.

Fiona / Ffiona/ Ffion
Derived either from the Irish word "fion" meaning "wine" (which in turn is derived from the Latin word "vinum") or "fionn" meaning "fair, white, beautiful". A Welsh variation "Ffion" has become more prominent in recent years as this is the name of the wife of William Hague, the leader of the Conservative Party in the UK.

Flora comes from the Roman goddess of flowers. It became a forename in France at the time of the Renaissance and came over to Scotland from there. Due to the "Auld Alliance" there have been a lot of cultural exchanges between the two countries. The name became popular in the Highlands of Scotland. The most famous bearer of the name in Scotland was of course Flora MacDonald who protected Bonnie Prince Charlie as he escaped from Scotland after his defaet at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. She was imprisoned but later released as part of an amnesty. She married and emigrated to the US in 1751 where she and her husband became involved in the War of Independence (fighting on the government side). They returned to South Uist where she died in 1790 - on the same bed on which the Prince had slept. Short forms of the name are Florrie, Flory, Flo and Flossy.

Francis / Frances / Frank
The name Francis is from the Latin Franciscus meaning "a Frenchman". The feminine equivalent is Frances. The name became popular initially as a result of St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. Francis was also used by French kings and German emperors. King Francis II of France was the first husband of Mary Queen of Scots. The diminutive form of Francis is Frank (as in Frank Sinatra). Francie and Josie were a double act as two lovable "teddy boys" from Glasgow, performed by two Scottish comedians Rikki Fulton (Josie) and Jack Milroy (Francie) from the 1960s to 1996.

Fraser came from a Norman knight Frizel (derived from the French word "fraise" meaning strawberry and the place name La Fraselière). He brought the name to Scotland, originally as a surname. Its use as a first name arose only in this century and it was the 33rd most common name registered in Scotland in 1999. Alternative spellings are Frazer and Frasier (as in the TV series).

The reference books suggest that the name Gail could have derived from two sources. "Gael" is used in Celtic communities such as the Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland, to refer to anyone who is a speaker of the Gaelic language and could have given rise to the girl's name "Gail". However, the name is also the shortened form of Abigail (from a Hebrew name via the Bible). There are records of the name Abigail being used in Scotland as far back as 1613 but the name was popularised by a number of English writers at the beginning of the 18th century. The name Gail (and Gayle) became popular in Scotland in the 1970s and Gail was the 53rd most used name amongst girls born in 1975 while Gayle was the 67th most popular in the same year.

This name has become popular in the 20th century, probably because of the film star Gary Cooper (named after Gary, Indiana). At one stage it was the 20th most popular boy's first name but has slipped back to 85th. The name originally derived from Garret, a variant of Gerard. A variation, Garry, is found in Scotland, possibly from Glen Garry in Perthshire and Inverness-shire

Derived from Celtic words meaning "white hawk." An earlier form of the name was Gawain, a Knight of the Round Table. The name is found in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. The name was favoured by the Hamilton and Dunbar families in the Middle Ages. Burns dedicated the Kilmarnock edition of his poems to Gavin Hamilton. Gavin Maxwell the author and Gavin Hastings the rugby player are more recent examples. The name was the 71st most popular name for a boy in Scotland in 1998 but fell out of the top 100 in 1999.

Derived from Old German "gud frid" meaning "good peace" it overlaps with "Gottfried" which is Anglicised as Godfrey. The Latin forms of the name (Galfrius and Geoffridus) gave rise to the surnames Geoffrey, Geoffreys, Jeffrey and Jeffries which are quite common in Scotland. Jeffrey is a sept of the clan Macdonald. Galfrid Melville became established in Scotland before 1162 and was the forebear of the Melville earls in Scotland. There was a Geoffrey Blund who was the first burgess recorded in Inverness around 1200 and there was a Galfredus (Geoffrey) whose appointment as Bishop of Dunkel (Dunkeld) was disallowed by the Pope in 1236. In 1950, the name briefly got into the top 100 boys' names. The Gaelic form of the name is Goirdh.

George / Georgina
The name George originated in Greece as "Georgos" or "husbandman" or farmer. St George, who became the patron saint of England, was a Roman military tribune who was martyred in 303AD. The Crusaders who visited Palestine in the the 13/14th centuries brought his name back to Britain. The name is first found in the written records in Scotland in the 14th century. When the House of Hanover acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom in 1714, there was an unbroken run of monarchs named George for 116 years. King George V and VI in the 20th century revived the name as far as royalty was concerned. The film Geordie helped to increase its popularity for a while and, of course, George Young captained the Scotland football team 48 times in the 1950s. However, although George was the 6th most popular boy's name in 1900 and was still as high as 8th in 1950, it had fallen to 36th by 1976 and was no longer in the top 100 in 2005. The Gaelic for George is Deorsa. Georgina is, of course, the feminine form of George and and has been in use in Scotland since the 18th century.

Gillian / Gilly / Jill
Gillian was derived at an early stage from Giles and Julia (from the Greek for "kid"). Giles was used as both a male and female first name in early days - St Giles is the patron saint of Edinburgh. Note that in Scotland the "G" is soft and another form of the name became Jill. Gillian (at one time used in the form Egidia) fell out of fashion in the 18th century but was revived - Sir Walter Scott has Dame Gillian in his novel "Betrothed" written in 1825. In the late 20th century the name became very popular and Gillian was the 8th most frequently given name for a girl in 1975, for example. Other variants include Gilly, Gill, Gillie, Gillianne, Gillyanne and Jillianne.

This another surname which is used also as a first name. The name originally came from a location in Berwickshire (probably 'gor-dun' meaning hill fort) but later became one of the great families of Northeast Scotland. The name became associated with the Gordon Highlanders regiment and General Charles Gordon and the siege of Khartoum increased the popularity of the name. The film actor Gordon Jackson was popular in the 1960s to 1990s and Gordon Brown from Fife is the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1900 it was the 44th most popular name in Scotland and rose to 17th in 1950. However, in 2000, it is no longer in the top 100.

The name Grace came originally from the Latin "gratia" meaning "grace" or "favour". It was not found often in Britain or Scotland until the Puritans took it up in the 17th century, prompted by their phrase "by the grace of God". The Puritans took the name to North America. In Scotland it became quite popular in the 19th century but in a number of cases it was derived from another popular name, Grizel, which became "gris" and "Grace" (see also below). The name was given a boost as a result of the heroine Grace Darling (1815-1842) who rescued some shipwrecked sailors off the coast of Northumberland. In 1900, Grace was the 22nd most popular first name in Scotland. However, in recent years, despite Princess Grace of Monaco, the name is not found often in Scotland.

Graham / Graeme
Although a popular Scottish name, it is derived from the Old English word "grand" (meaning gravel) and "ham" (settlement). The original "Grandham" or Grantham was in Lincolnshire. William de Graham accompanied King David from England to Scotland at the end of his imprisonment there. The Grahams became a powerful family and the name has gradually become used also as a forename.

Like the equivalent surname for Clan Grant, this name originated from the French "grand" meaning tall. It's use as a first name seems to have originated in the US after Ulysses S Grant, the 18th President, but has become popular also in Scotland where it was the 69th most frequent given name in 1999.

The Greek word "gregorios" means "watchful" and the initial form of this name was Gregory - St Gregory lived in the 6th century and Pope Gregory the Great around the same time gave his name to the Gregorian Chant. The first Gregor in Scotland was said to have been a son of King Kenneth MacAlpin. It has become more popular in recent times, however, perhaps due to the fame of the MacGregors and Rob Roy in particular. Gregor was the 62nd most popular name used at the Registry Office in 1998. The popular actor Gregor Fisher plays "Rab C Nesbitt" the Govan "philosopher" in the TV comedy of that name.

Grizel / Grizelda / Griselda
This name is thought to have been derived from the Old German "grisja" (grey) and "hild" (battle). The 14th century author Boccaccio wrote a story about Patient Griselda in the Decameron and the English author Chaucer wrote a version of this in "The Clerk's Tale" which popularised the name and associated it with patience. Grizel became a popular form in Scotland though there were many variations - Grizzel, Girsel, Girzel and Goirzel. It was used by both the nobility and commoners - one well known bearer of the name was Lady Grizel Baillie (1665-1746), daughter of a Covenanter, the 1st Earl of Marchmont. She wrote a number of Scots songs and her "Household Book" was reprinted by the Scottish History Society in 1911. In Scotland, Grizel sometimes became Grace and a diminutive form was Zelda.

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