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Origins of the Clan

The name Sandilands comes from lands by that name in Clydesdale. The family to bear the name may have originally fled to Scotland from Northumberland in the reign of King Malcolm III of Scotland.

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence Sir James de Sandilands distinguished himself in the wars against the English. For his services he was rewarded with a royal charter to his lands by King David II of Scotland. He married Eleanor, the only daughter of Sir Archibald Douglas, Regent of Scotland. James Sandilands received from his brother in law, William IV, Lord of Douglas the lands of Calder in Lothian.

15th Century

James Sandiland’s son also called James was one of the hostages sent to England for King James I of Scotland. James Sandilands was only returned to Scotland two years before his death. He was the presumptive heir to the Douglas estates and should have inherited them on the death of the James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas. However the estates went instead to Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas who was Sir James Douglas’s bastard son.

James Sandilands was succeeded by his own son John. The Sandilands found themselves in opposition to their Douglas relatives as they were unshakeable in their support to King James II of Scotland. Chief John Sandilands and his uncle James were both assassinated by Patrick Thornton on the orders of the Douglas faction. James Sandilands inherrited the estates and married Margaret Kinlock of Cruvie. One of their sons, James Sandilands of Cruvie established the line who would later become Lords of Abercrombie.

16th Century

Sir James Sandilands of Calder, a friend of the Protestant reformer, John Knox, was also preceptor of the powerful religious and military Order of the Knights of St John, whose headquarters were at the Priory of Torphichen in West Lothian.

When the Order was suppressed, he managed to obtain a grant of much of its lands on payment to the Crown of ten thousand crowns in gold and an annual rent of five hundred merks. Previously, the preceptors had sat as peers in Parliament under the title of ‘Lord St. John of Torphichen’, an interesting case of a title belonging to an office and not hereditary in any one family. Sir James kept his seat in Parliament, being created Lord Torphichen. He died without issue, and the new title devolved on James, the grandson of his elder brother, who succeeded as second Lord Torphichen.

Mary Sandilands, daughter of John Sandilands, 8th of Calder, married after 15 Jul 1586 Joseph Douglas of Pumpherston, and had issue

17th Century & Civil War

The first Lord’s half-brother, Sir James Sandilands of Slamannan, was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James VI of Scotland and later keeper of Blackness Castle. The second Lord had four sons, two of whom were to succeed to the family title. John, the fourth Lord, although a supporter of Charles I strongly advised against the plan known as the Engagement, which sought to invade England in 1648 to rescue the king, in return for certain conditions, after he had been handed over to Parliament by the Scots army. The plan was ill-conceived, and ended in disaster.

18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings

James, seventh Lord Torphichen, took his seat in Parliament in 1704 and was a supporter of the Treaty of Union. He served in the army on the Continent only returning to Scotland at the outbreak of the rising of 1715, in which the Clan Sandiland fought on the side of the British government . The Clan Sandiland led by James Sandiland, seventh Lord Torphichen fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir against the Jacobites where they were victorious. In 1722 he was appointed by King George I as one of the Commissioners of Police.

His eldest son was wounded during the campaigns of 1745 fighting against the forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the ‘Young Pretender’, and he later died of consumption. His second son, Walter, who had embarked upon a career in the law, succeeded to the title while sheriff of Midlothian. James, the sheriff’s son, was a colonel in the Coldstream Guards and was elected a representative peer to the House of Lords from 1790 to 1800. He was succeeded by his first cousin, James, from whom the present Lord Torphichen, who still lives at Calder, is lineally descended.

The Lords Torphichen

James Sandilands, 1st Lord Torphichen (c. 1511–1579), succeeded by his elder brother's grandson
James Sandilands, 2nd Lord Torphichen (c. 1574–1617), who married as his second wife c.1616 Hon Mary Somerville, whose second husband was William Douglas of Pumpherston
James Sandilands, 3rd Lord Torphichen (c. 1597–1622)
John Sandilands, 4th Lord Torphichen (c. 1598–1637), brother of third Lord
John Sandilands, 5th Lord Torphichen (1625–1649), died unmarried
Walter Sandilands, 6th Lord Torphichen (1629–1696), brother of fifth Lord, m. Anne Elphinstone, daughter of Alexander, 6th Lord Elphinstone. Walter married as his second wife 28 Apr 1657 Lady Catherine Alexander (dspm. bef. 13 Feb 1686), 1st daughter of Hon Sir William Alexander, styled Lord Alexander (by his wife Lady Margaret Douglas, 1st daughter by his first wife of William Douglas, 1st Marquess of Douglas)
James Sandilands, 7th Lord Torphichen (d. 1753), married Lady Jean Hume, daughter of Patrick, Earl of Marchmont and sister of Andrew, who married Elizabeth, daughter of John Douglas, of Newcastle.
Walter Sandilands, 8th Lord Torphichen (1707–1765)
James Sandilands, 9th Lord Torphichen (1759–1815)
James Sandilands, 10th Lord Torphichen (1770–1862)
Robert Sandilands, 11th Lord Torphichen (1807– 24 December 1869), nephew of 10th Lord Torphichen
James Walter Sandilands, 12th Lord Torphichen (1846–1915)
John Gordon Sandilands, 13th Lord Torphichen (1886–1973)
James Bruce Sandilands, 14th Lord Torphichen (1917–1975)
James Andrew Douglas Sandilands, 15th Lord Torphichen (b. 1946), the current chief of Clan Sandilands

The heir presumptive is the present holder's first cousin twice removed Robert Powell Sandilands (b. 1950).
The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his only son Ashton Powell Sandilands (b. 1979).


The clan tartan is Douglas



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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024