August 2013

In this Issue:

 Birthplace of Scotland's National Flag  Coming Events
 Rev John Witherspon, Scot & American  August Celebrations
 Who Am I?  Society Officers
 What's in a Names  

The Birthplace of Scotland's National Flag

Most people of Scottish descent are familiar with the "Saltire", the National Flag of Scotland.  This flag—blue with a white St. Andrew's Cross—flies at most Scottish highland games and other Scottish events. 

East Lothian is said to be the place of the Saltire's birth.  Tradition relates that in 832 AD an army of Picts and Scots, hard pressed by invading Anglo-Saxons, drew inspiration when clouds on a blue sky formed a white saltire, the Cross of St. Andrew.  The Pictish leader Angus took heart from this auspicious sign and vowed that if his warriors carried the day, St. Andrew's Cross would become the nation's flag.

They did, and today the Saltire, the oldest national flag in Europe, flies in perpetuity at the village of Athelstandford, to commemorate the battle fought there nearly 1200 years ago.  During Tartan Week—April 6 to 12—a Scottish flag is hoisted each hour at the historic battle site and then offered for sale, with a certificate of authenticity and a photograph. 

The Reverend John Witherspoon - Scot and American

When the Rev. John Witherspoon set sail for the American colonies in 1768, he little realized what a large part he would play in the founding of the United States.

Witherspoon was born on February 5, 1723 in the village of Gifford in East Lothian, a few miles east of Edinburgh.  His father was a local minister, his mother was the daughter of a minister who claimed descent from John Knox, the Scottish Protestant reformer.  It was natural that John would be drawn to the church.  He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1739 and four years later was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian Church.  Witherspoon was a member of the ecclesiastical party known as the "New Lichts" (New Lights).  The group was fiercely evangelical and opposed the old-fashioned, solemn approach to religion that the "Auld Lichts" advocated.

Witherspoon was highly critical of the Jacobite movement, which he saw as a rebellious uprising against the lawful British monarchy.  He learned that a battle was likely to take place between Charles Stuart's Jacobites and a Hanovarian army at Falkirk.  He placed himself at the head of a small band of men who were loyal to the Hanovarian cause.  His family and friends pleaded with him to abandon the nonsensical scheme, but he and his band marched to Glasgow.  Witherspoon declined to take up arms in the battle and only watched from a distance.   When the fighting was over, however, he was captured by the victorious Jacobites.  After a period of imprisonment at Doune Castle in Perthshire, Witherspoon managed to escape and he resumed his duties as parish minister at Beith in Ayrshire.  Soon his fame as a preacher spread.

In 1756 Witherspoon was appointed minister of the Low Church of Paisley, a sizeable and important town a few miles west of Glasgow.  Here he began to write books and pamphlets on theology.  These publications spread his fame even further  It was during this period that he was invited for the first time to take up the post of President of the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton) which he declined.  But when a second invitation came, Witherspoon accepted  and in May 1668 he and his family sailed for the Colonies.

The reputation of the College of New Jersey located in the town of Princeton had been in decline for several years.  Witherspoon's reputation alone helped stop the decline.  He made many  changes in both the curriculum (adding math, science and foreign languages) and the manner in which the subjects were taught.  He augmented the college library with 300 of his own books.  Enrollments increased as did the endowment.  During these years increasing numbers of American colonists were becoming dissatisfied with British rule.  For all of Witherspoon's previous pro-monarchy opinions, he sided with the people he now lived among.  He saw the basic justice of "no taxation without representation" and like most New Lichts, espoused the cause of liberty.

In 1776 Witherspoon was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, a role which stigmatized him as a rebel and traitor back in Scotland.  He was also elected to the General Congress which wrote the Articles of Confederation.  When a fellow member of Congress expressed the fear that the Colonies were not ripe for independence, Witherspoon replied that they were not only ripe, "they were in danger rotting."  During the war, despite his best efforts to keep the college open, he was forced to shut its doors.  His eldest son, James, a graduate of the college and major in the American army, was killed at Germantown.  In 1782 Witherspoon resigned from Congress and the following year he resumed his duties as president of the college.

In 1789 Witherspoon's wife, Elizabeth Montgomery Witherspoon, died.  Four years later when he was 70, he married again.  The union caused something of a scandal because his bride was a 23-year-old widow, Ann Dill.  Two daughters were born to the couple.  For the last two years of his life Witherspoon was virtually blind.  Nevertheless, he continued to preach.  He died on November 15, 1794, and was buried in Princeton Cemetery.
   In Philadelphia and Princeton, statues have been erected in his honor.  The College of New Jersey continued to prosper after his death and in 1896 was renamed Princeton University.  Doubtless, Witherspoon would be very proud.


Who Am I ?

I was born in 1835 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.  During my lifetime I gave over 350 million dollars away in charitable donations.  I made my fortune in the steel industry.  I built many libraries and there is a large hall in New York City named for me.  Who am I?

(Answer at the end of the Newletter)

What's in a Name
What's in a Name?
By Ron Dempsey, FSA Scot


The name Noble came early into Scotland in the 12th century from England, arriving on the train of their feudal superiors—a noble family named Vaux.  They held lands in East Lothian, and various generations later, had branches in Dumbartonshire, the county of Lanark and the area near the town of Inverness.

There is mention of a document in 1504 which states that a William "Nobil" was at Culcowe, Ardmanoch.  Clan Mackintosh claims the surname "Noble" as an associate of their clan.  Also there is the surname "MacNoble" which has been the cource of the name in the County of Ross.


This is a name from the Borders.  It is mentioned in 1638 in Dumfries.  Broadfoot is a spelling more of a modern nature.  It is not, as many may think, a descriptive surname of someone with large feet but in fact a generic name of a land feature, as in the broad foot of some higher land.

Older spellings of the name are more prolific, such as "Bradfute", or "Braidfoot ".  The name has a claim to fame in Scottish history in that it was the name of Scottish hero Sir William Wallace's wife, Marion Bradfute.


Corbett is a Norman surname or at least Old French.  The name is a diminutive for "Corbeau" which is a raven.  The raven appears in some of their heraldry.

The Corbetts came from Shropshire to Teviotdale in the first part of the 12th century.  Various branches of the family were locally in lands throughout the Lowlands and Border regions.

There is mention of a document in 1504 which states that a William "Nobil" was at Culcowe, Ardmanoch.  Clan Mackintosh claims the surname "Noble" as an associate of their clan.  Also there is the surname "MacNoble" which has been the cource of the name in the County of Ross.

Coming Events

August 10-11 Colorado Scottish Festival, Highland Ranch CO
August 31 Pleasanton Games (San Francisco)
September 5 Estes Park CO Games
September 12 Membership Meeting - Shepherd's Pie Night
September 21 Fresno CA Games
September 21 Celtic Harvest Festival Sedona AZ
October 10 Membership meeting - Scotstoberfest

SOCIETY MEETING Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Beginning at 7 pm. Come join us or log on to

August Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

August 14 Carol Kuna - Birthday
August 14 Tom Caldwell - Birthday
August 15 Toni Sarcinella - Birthday
August 17 Janet Hiat - Birthday
August 21 Susan Hawkins - Birthday
August 29 Steve & Gail Wylie - Anniversary

Who Am I ?

Andrew Carnegie

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
1st Vice President, & Membership Chair Don Finch
Secretary: Thom Von Hapsburg
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Jason Temple
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier

Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell