The Scottish/English border was a tract of rugged territory stretching from Carlisle in the west to Berwick in the east. The name Breed is one of the oldest border surnames or clans.
Ancient manuscripts such as the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Inquisitor, the Ragman Rolls, the Doomsday Book, acts of Scottish Parliaments, Baptismal, Parish records and Cartularies, and Tax records were researched. The name Breed was first found in Edinburgh shire where they were seated from very ancient times and can trace their origins to the extensive lands and estates of the same name south of the city of Edinburgh.
Although the name, Breed, appeared in many references, from time to time, the surname was shown with the spellings Brad, Baid, Bread, Braed, Bradd, Breed, Bredd, Brade and these changes in spellings frequently occurred during a person’s own lifetime, or between father and son. Simple errors by scribes and church officials occurred when they spelt the name as it sounded. The same person was often born with one spelling, married with another, and on his gravestone, yet another. The family name Breed is believed to descended originally from the Boernicians. The ancient founding race of the north were a mixture of Scottish Picts, Angles and Vikings, a race dating from about the year 400AD. Their territories ranged from Edinburgh in the north, southwards to the North Riding of Yorkshire in England. From400AD to 900AD, their territory was overrun firstly by the Ancient Britons, then the Angles from the south, and finally the Vikings, Picts and Dalriadans from the north. By 1000AD however the race had formed into discernible clans and families, perhaps some of the first evidence of the family structure in Britain. This area produced strange nicknames such as the Sturdy Armstrong’s, one of whom, Neil, was the first to colonize the moon, the Gallant Grahams, the Saucy, the Angry Kerr’s, the Bells, the Nixon’s, the famous Dickson’s, the bold Rutherford’s, the Puddings Somerville’s, and most of the names ending in “Son”.
Emerging from this distinguished circle is the surname Breed and the earliest records were found in Edinburgh, and Henry Brade of Brade hills was Sheriff of Edinburgh in the year 1140AD. The Scottish Clan held these lands for more than to centuries. The family became involved in ecclesiastical affairs, patronising the Castle of Maidens, the Abbey of Hollrood Castle. John Brade was Cannon of Glasgow in 1250. By 1300, the clan had acquired unusual rights of privacy over the King in their lands of Bavelay, Sir Thomas Brade was knighted about this time as being the head of his clan. His son, Sir Henry, rendered homage to King Edward 1st of England during his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296AD. Notable amongst the families to the north of the border became Scottish after about the year 1000AD, and the south they became English. However, they would continue to be united clans, powers unto themselves, owing little allegiance to either Scotland or England, having territories and interests on both sides of the border.
Conflict between these aggressive families became so great that in 1245AD, 6 Chiefs from the Scottish side and 6 Chiefs from the English side met at Carlisle and produced a set of laws for all the border territory. These were unlike any laws prevailing in England or Scotland or, for that matter anywhere else in the world. For example, it was a far greater offence to refuse to help a neighbour recover his property, wife, sheep, cattle or horses than to steal them in the first place. For refusal of assistance a person could be hanged on the instant, without a trial. While clans were on this “hot trod”, from which we get the modern expression “hot to trot”, they were protected from almost all eventualities. Many of the descendants of this border area have enjoyed the distention claiming to be descended from cattle thieves and horse stealers, little realizing this was the way of life amongst the border people who, ironically, earned nicknames such as the Haughty Humes, the Worthy Watsons, the Proud Setons and the Jingling Jardines
In 1603, unification of the crowns of England and Scotland under James VI of Scotland found it expedient to disperse the “unruly border clans”. In 1587, an Act of Scottish Parliament had condemned certain border families for their lawlessness. Scotland was moving towards breaking up the old “border code”.
Hence, the border clans, largely the Strathclyde Britons on the western border, and the Boernicians on the eastern border marches, were dispersed to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were banished directly to the colonies.
In Ireland, they were granted lands previously held by the Catholic Irish. They signed an “undertaking” to remain Protestant and faithful to the crown. There is no record of this distinguished family migrating to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of individual migration. Gradually becoming disenchanted with life in Ireland many of these uprooted families sailed the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships often arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, many dying of cholera, typhoid, dysentery or small pox.
In North America, some of the first name Breed, of which that same clan or family, were James Brade, settled in New England 1763 and James Brade arrived in Philadelphia in 1871. These migrants became the backbone of the first settlements from Maine to the Cumberland Gap. In Canada they settled in Nova Scotia, the St Lawrence and the Ottawa valley. During the American War of Independence those loyal to the Crown moved northward into Canada and became known as the United Empire Loyalists. Meanwhile, the name Breed provided many prominent contemporaries.