Famous Wisharts 


Home History Family Tree Tartan Orders Contact Us

This section of our website traces the history of the Wishart family through some of its most famous people and families.

Our starting point is the Guiscard family of Normandy, France and the Danish name Visk Hard, from which the name Wiscard is believed to have derived.  A Danish warrior named Tancred Visk Hard became Tancrede de Hauteville La Guichard in the 11th century, and founded a French and Italian dynasty.

The first definite record we have in Scotland is of John Wiscard, Sheriff of Kincardineshire in the reign of Alexander II, 1214-49. His eldest son, Sir John Wyscard, obtained lands at Conveth (now Laurencekirk), Halkerstoun and Scottistoun in the Mearns in 1246, and these were to remain the principal lands of Wishart of Pitarrow for over four centuries.

His second son, William Wyscard, became Bishop of Glasgow and Bishop of St. Andrews in 1270; and in 1274 he was consecrated at Scone in the presence of King Alexander III. He founded the Dominican Monastery at St. Andrews and built the nave of the Cathedral. His seal is displayed in the Cathedral Museum at St. Andrews.

John Wiscard's third son Adam Wyschard, founded the House of Logie Wishart, having obtained lands in Forfar in 1272 and 1279. Adam's second son, Robert Wishart followed his uncle William Wishart as Bishop of Glasgow in 1272, a post he was to hold for 44 years.

Perhaps the most famous ecclesiastical member of the family was George Wishart, the Protestant martyr.  He was the friend and mentor of John Knox and preached the Protestant reform, as a result of which he was captured by Cardinal Beaton of St. Andrews, tried for heresy and burnt at the stake outside the castle of St. Andrews in 1546.

Sir John Wischeard was another strong Protestant, and the last important Laird of Pitarrow.  He was a member of the Scottish Parliament and a deputy of the Earl Marischal. He married Jean, daughter of William Douglas, 9th Earl of Angus in 1592.  As a result, the Wishart Arms were incorporated in the Douglas Arms; and the Douglas tartan was used in the design of the Wishart tartan .

Another George Wishart became the Marquis of Montrose's private chaplain in the 17th century, and wrote a book about the Montrose campaign. When the Scottish Parliament sentenced Montrose to death, they ordered that he be hanged with Wishart's book around his neck. A mural in the House of Commons Corridor depicts the execution of Montrose.  Dr George Wishart later became the first Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh in 1662, and he is buried in the Chapel at Holyrood House, Edinburgh.