Select Innes Surname Genealogy

The Innes surname is Gaelic in origin.  One source is Scottish - from the Gaelic word inis, meaning "island" or "a piece of land between two river"  - which gave rise to the barony of Innes in Moray in NE Scotland. 

Innes could also derive from the Gaelic personal name Aonghus, in modern form Angus.  Aonghus was an 8th century king of Scotland who gave his name to the county of Angus.  This Aonghus gave rise to the Scottish surname MacInnes and to the Irish names Ennis and McGuinness.

Select Innes Resources on The Internet

Select Innes Ancestry

Scotland.  Clan Innes (pronounced "Innez") claims descent from a Berowald, a Flemish knight given the lands of Innes in Morayshire by the Scottish king in 1160.  Berowald's grandson, Sir Walter of Innes, was the first to use the Innes name.  Sir Robert Innes was an MP for Moray and made a baronet in 1625.   He built Innes House in Morayshire, the family home until 1767 when Sir James Innes went bankrupt and sold the estate.  A later Sir James was able to claim the vacant dukedom of Roxburghe in 1812.

The Innes name crops up in the fishing village of Lossiemouth nearby.  Apparently an Elizabeth Innes was tried for witchcraft there in the 1600ís.  Her small cottage is now derelict. It was said that they used to take witches to Boar's Head Point nearby and drown them there!

Another Innes family had acquired the lands of Balnacraig in Aberdeenshire in the 1600's.  However, loyalty to the Stuarts a century later - Father Lewis Innes being the Jacobite Secretary of State - resulted in the loss of their estates.  Later on, an Innes family was among the founding families of Port Gordon on the Moray Firth in Banffshire.  Alexander Innes from Ruthven was appointed its first Harbor master in 1797.  These Innes were shipowners, trawlermen and fishermen.

Meanwhile the Rev. Beroald Innes of Alves in Morayshire was the 17th century forebear of emigrants - the Rev Robert Innes who embarked for Virginia and Sir Hugh Innes who later headed to the West Indies and made a fortune as a planter.  This Sir Hugh Innes became a wealthy MP and landowner who cleared out his lands in the NW Highlands for sheep in the early 19th century.

Gilbert Innes from Edinburgh became first cashier at the Royal Bank of Scotland and established the family home at Stow in Berwickshire in the 1750ís.  His son Gilbert Innes inherited the estate and went on to be director of the bank for forty five years, from 1787 to 1832:
  • he became incredibly wealthy during that time, being described as "the richest commoner in Scotland." 
  • he had an amazing 67 illegitimate children from scores of different women. 
He died unmarried in 1832 and his large fortune was eventually claimed by his cousin William Mitchell, a cashier at the bank.  Mitchell's descendants, the Mitchell-Innes, acquired their own estates and became well-known in the world of Scottish golf. 

Today the Innes family at Drumduan in Invernessshire are Scotland's biggest dairy farmers, with more than 1,400 milking cows.  The herd has been built up by Callum Innes and his two sons over the past fifty years. 

England.  William Innes, the son of an Edinburgh banker, was a wealthy 18th century West Indian merchant who owned sugar plantations in Jamaica and lived in some splendor at Grotes Place in Blackheath. 

A later Innes of this family, John Innes, was a London property developer often credited with the development of Merton Park as an attractive suburb during Victorian times.  When he died in 1904 he bequeathed the John Innes Park to the people of Merton and his will created the John Innes Horticultural Institute.

Caribbean.  The Innes name is associated with plantations in Jamaica in the late 18th century.  William Innes, a London slave trader, owned a number of Jamaican plantations but probably never resided there.  David Innes owned the Mount Grace plantation.  And the family of Alexander Innes from Aberdeen was also recorded in Jamaica at that time.

America.  Two early Inneses in America were:
  • Alexander Innes who had been brought over to America after the Scots' defeat in 1650 at the Battle of Dunbar.  He was released after a few years and moved to Block island on Rhode Island. 
  • and the Rev. Robert Innes who came to Virginia with his brother Hugh in the 1750's.  Robert's son Harry headed west and was the first federal judge of Kentucky in 1789.  Their family history was narrated in Susan Innes Kitchen's 1994 book Descendants of Rev. Beroald Innes.
Daniel Innes left the Highlands of Scotland for America in 1854 and came out west, first stopping off in Chicago, then in Kansas, before moving to Los Angeles where his shoe store prospered.  The Daniel Innes House in Angelino Heights, built in 1887, has been designated an LA landmark site.

Australia.  Major Archibald Innes came to Sydney in 1822 as a soldier on a convict ship.  He invested in land and was one of Australia's richest colonists in the 1830's.  Glen Innes was named after him.  However, a credit squeeze bankrupted him in 1852.   Frederick Innes, the son of an army officer, came out to Tasmania from Edinburgh in 1843.  He rose to become Premier of Tasmania in 1872.

Select Innes Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Innes Names

John de Innes
was an early 15th century Scottish churchman from Moray credited with the rebuilding of Elgin Cathedral.
Gilbert Innes was a wealthy early 19th century Edinburgh banker who fathered 67 illegitimate children.
John Innes was a 19th century property developer and philanthropist who developed the London suburb of Merton Park.
Hammond Innes was a popular English thriller writer of the 1940's and 50's.

Select Inneses Today
  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page