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About the study
Historical occurrences of the name
* The earliest Ninian baptism I've been able to find in the Scottish OPRs was Elspot, daughter of Andro Ninian, in Dysart, Fife in 1589 (we'd now probably call her Elspeth). The earliest marriage was between Katherene Ninian and Henrie Archibald in St Cuthbert's parish, Edinburgh in 1632. There are also burials recorded in Edinburgh in the 17th century.
* Hendrie Niniane and John Niniane were recorded as paying the Hearth Tax in Ayrshire in 1691 - Hendrie in Kelsoland and John in 'Larges toun'.
* Grizel Ninian was transported from Glasgow to Hampton, Virginia on board the ship Brilliant in October 1772.
Distribution of the name
The second group was concentrated in North Ayrshire, in the Largs and Dalry areas, and in Renfrewshire, around Lochwinnoch, Kilmacolm, Inverkip, Greenock and Paisley. Ninians from these areas appear to have migrated into Glasgow and Dunbartonshire.
A third group of Ninians was in the Shetland Islands, though the name seems to have appeared there only in the early 19th century. Previous to that there were people called Ninianson, and I believe that this was a patronym which became shortened to Ninian after 'settled' surnames were introduced. (The use of patronyms was widespread in Shetland into the early 19th century.)
The name was very rare in England until the 19th century. In 1860 my great-grandmother's brother, James Ninian, left the army and settled in the Manchester area. Though he only had one surviving son, that son had four sons who all married and had children. From my initial research, it seems that a great many of the Ninians in England are descended from this family - certainly those living around the Manchester, Lancaster and Cheshire areas. Some more recently resident in England may have migrated south from Scotland, and there are also a few Irish-born Ninians to be found both north and south of the border.