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About the study

   I became interested in the Tilliduff family in about 2003 soon after I started working on my family tree. My great-grandmother was a Tilliduff, and her tree was researched in 1971 by a professional researcher - unfortunately not giving any sources. The tree went back three generations and came to a full-stop, but with the information that originally the name probably came from Aberdeen.   After 11 years of research I made that link, following the lead given by Black's surnames of Scotland and linking Robert Tullideph born in St. Marylebone, London, in 1761, (whose father was also Robert, son of Thomas born in Dunbarney, Perth and descending several generations back from the Aberdeen family) to Robert Tilliduff recorded as living with his wife and children in Cripplegate, City of London in 1785.  From there I have concentrated on "fleshing out the bones" of this fascinating family, some of whom have left their mark on Scotland and its history.

Variant names

  The majority of records from 14th to 18th century use the variant Tullideph, changing firmly to Tilliduff early in the 19th century.   Tullydaff, Tulidefe, Dulledaphe, Tylliedaff, and Dilliedasse all make up over twenty deviant spellings.

Name origin

  The first recorded mention of this surname was in 1317 when John de Tolidef was noted as being before the Baillies in Aberdeen (The Miscellany of the Spalding Club Vol V. page 13) requesting land inherited through his mother to be passed to him. The name comes from the barony of Tillydaff in Midmar, Aberdeenshire, a name which persists today. The name is Celtic, meaning "Hill of the Oxen", "Tilly" coming from tulloch = hill, and "daff" from the word "damh" = of the oxen.  There are also references to Tillyduff in place names around St. Combs but that name comes from a separate source, although still Celtic in origin, and is not related to this family.  The barony comprised not only the modern area of Tillydaff but Orchardstown, Rothmaise, Logierieve and Ranieston, where another branch of the family lived.  The National Archives hold several references to this surname; for example that of Andrew Tulidef of that ilk (meaning they they live in a place of the same name) in 1453, while there are also mentions of it in the Register of the Great Seal up to the 17th century.

The area of Tillydaff is indicated between the marked points. Rothmaise to the north-west, Tillydaff to the south-west, and Orchardtown and Logierieve very close together to the east.

Historical occurrences of the name

  A number of Tullidephs have made their mark historically. William de Tullidaff was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. The 16th, 17th and 18th century Tullidephs were strict Presbyterians, with several Ministers of the Kirk among their number. 
Oliver Tullideph was the nephew of George Wishart, burnt at the stake as a heretic in 1546.  Oliver himself was the unwitting catalyst of the destruction of St. John's Church and the monasteries of Perth in 1559 by protesters against Catholicism, at a sermon by John Knox, and was sentenced to death, but a reprieve came at the last minute due to the Catholics admitting defeat and leaving Perth.  William Tullideph (1626 - 1695 baptised as Dulledaphe) was a Covenanter, and his grandson Thomas, (1700 - 1777)  was a Principal of St. Leonards College St. Andrews who saved St. Andrews University from financial ruin when he amalgamated all the colleges and made one University, becoming the first Principal of the United Colleges of St. Andrews for thirty years until his death in 1777. Thomas' brother Walter (1702 - 1794) went to Antigua as a doctor and sugar planter, managing many large estates on behalf of the owners, and also sending back collections of plants to Sir Hans Sloane which are now in the Natural History collection in the British Museum.  Buildings and streets in Dundee are named after him.

Name frequency

  There were sixteen incidences of Tilliduff in the 1881 census (with two of them being recorded as Tiliduff and one as T. Duff). The Tullideph surname was extinct by 1881. In total I currently have 190 examples from both variants, and all the deviant spellings.  Although the Tullideph surname has now died out there are at least two families carrying it down the male line as a middle name. There is just one remaining family of Tilliduffs, descended from Frederick Charles Tilliduff who emigrated to South Africa in 1947.

Distribution of the name

  From the first record in 1317 to the end of the fifteenth century all recorded members were in Aberdeen, all being baptised in St. Nicholas Church. By the first half of the sixteenth century Robert Tullideph and his son Oliver were at St. Andrews in Fife, which is where the majority of records occur from then on, with a handful of registrations in Edinburgh, until the birth of one Robert Pitman Tullideph in London in 1761, and the first birth of a Tilliduff in Cripplegate, City of London in 1788, the father being my ancestor Robert Tilliduff, who I have now linked to Robert Pitman Tullideph. Early in the 19th century there are a few non-conformist records of Tullideph in the Stockport, Manchester area, while the Tilliduffs remain in London and Woolwich areas of south-east England.  The name is now extinct in the UK.  Two Tilliduff families emigrated to the Adelaide area of Australia in the early 20th century, one with two young girls, who both married in Australia, and the other with older girls, only one of whom accompanied the parents and married in Australia, with the result that the name does not persist in Australia. One female Tilliduff became a naturalised American citizen in 1940, marrying an American but leaving no progeny, and again the name does not persist in the US. Just one family took the name to South Africa where the name is extant today.


General Register Office Indexes of Births Marriages and Deaths (England and Wales) (1837 – 2007)
LDS Vital Records Indexes for UK
Birth, marriage and death records from Australia
Pallott Marriage and Baptism Indexes
Boyd's Marriage Index (London)
London Metropolitan Archives Register of burials
London Burial Index
UK Outward Passenger Lists 1890 – 1960
Census Indexes 1841 – 1911 for England & Wales
• Scottish Old Parish Registers
o Midlothian – Edinburgh: East Lothian – Dunbar: Perth – Perth, Dunbarney, Errol, Dron, Logierait: West Lothian - Uphall or Strathbrock: Aberdeenshire – Aberdeen, Ellon,: Fife – Dunfermline, Carnock, St. Andrews & St. Leonards, Markinch, Ferryport on Craig, Leslie, Ceres, Scoonie, Forgan, Kennoway: Ayr – Kilmarnock, Stewarton: Angus – Dundee, Kingoldrum.Other Records
Miscellany of The Spalding Club Vol. V
Celtic Place Names in Aberdeenshire – John Milne M.A.., LL.D.
England & Wales Criminal Registers 1791 – 1892
Electoral Rolls for England & Wales
London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1840-1911
British Phone Books 1880 - 1984
Wills and Testaments of St. Andrews Commissary Court
Wills and Testaments of Edinburgh Commissary Court
UK Outward Passenger Lists 1890 – 1960
Aberdeen Register of Burgess for 1399 – 1630
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae – Hew Scott D.D.
Academic Patronage in the Scottish Enlightenment - Roger L. Emerson
The Book of Perth – John Parker Lawson
Aberdeen Friars: Red, Black, White, Grey - comp. by P. J. Anderson
Debretts Peerage of 1868
Caledonian Mercury
The Adelaide Chronicle
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954)
Religious Society of Friends of South Australia
The London Gazette
Scots Magazine
St. Andrews University Archives
Fasti Academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis : selections from the records of the Marischal College and University, MDXCIII-MDCCCLX
JSTOR – Natural History Museum Collections
British Library Shetland Documents
Wikipedia - List of Moderators of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The articles of agreement between the King of France, the Parliament, and Parisians: with a list of the names of those who signed thereunto, on the King's, Parliaments, and citizens behalf – Adam Thonif
The New Statistical Account of Scotland Vol. X, Perth, published by William Blackwood in 1845
The University of Edinburgh Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database
The Thanage of Fermartyn – Rev. William Temple
Extracts from the Burgh records of Dunfermline in 16th and 17th centuries
A History of the Family of Seton during Eight Centuries - George Seton 1822 - 1908