THE PRIMROSE FAMILY AND THE PRIMROSE CHART
I have been searching the internet for references to the Primrose Chart and found none. The following may help to fill the gap.
The Primrose Chart, now held by the Scots Ancestry Research Society, was the work of John D. Primrose of Glasgow, who died in 1960 at the age of 84. He made a life’s work of collecting all the data available on the Primroses of Scotland and beyond, with the intention of compiling a great genealogical chart linking up as many of his surname as he could.
The resulting work “contains the names of over 4000 individuals bearing his surname and of about 1300 of their non-Primrose spouses.” Of the 4000-plus John D. was able to connect up nearly 1800 in one great family tree of the descendants of one Henry Primrose, burgess of Culross, born pre-1490. There are also smaller pedigrees connecting up individuals who could not be added to the larger chart. However, Mr. John Fowler Mitchell of Edinburgh made a study of the chart and its sources and he was able to add more names to the descendants of Henry of Culross (though these changes will not appear on the chart).
John D. identified branches of the family in Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. There were also some Primroses in Norfolk, England, who could not be traced back to Scotland.
The best known line of the descendants of Henry of Culross is that of the Earls of Rosebery, one of whom, Archibald Primrose, was British Prime Minister for a brief period in 1894-5.
The line that seems the most prolific is that descended from John Primrose of Burnbrae (c.1590-1659). I have come to the conclusion that any family settled in the parish of Tulliallan, Fife, for a few generations will count John of Burnbrae among its ancestors. The lands of Kincardine, once in Culross, Perthshire, now in Tulliallan, Fife, were a stronghold of the Primrose surname. The parish registers of Culross (to 1672), and Tulliallan (post-1672) are replete with Primrose notices. The lands of Kincardine, including Burnbrae, were transferred from Culross to Tulliallan in 1672. There were also landowning Primroses of Castlehill, Culross, in the sixteenth century.
A few notes of my own on the Primroses.
First, the name has nothing to do with the flower, though armigerous Primroses display primroses proper, or symbolic golden cinqfoils as charges. The name is locative, likely from Primrose near Inverkeithing, Fife, though there are other less likely locations named Primrose in Scotland. Early spellings of the surname are Primros, Prymros and Prymroiss. The second component of the name is ros, meaning ‘moor’ in Gaelic and the Brythonic languages. The first component is more likely Brythonic than Gaelic.
Second, Mark Antony Lower, in his ‘Patronymica Brittanica’ (1860?), states that, as well as the Scots Primroses, there were French Huguenot refugees of the name who settled in Engand in the seventeenth century. In fact these French Primroses were of the family of Gilbert Primrose, another descendant of Henry of Culross. He had taken the position of minister to the Calvinist congregation of Bordeaux. Later he settled in London as minister of the French Church. His French-born son, James, a physician, settled in Hull with his family all of whom seem to have perished in the various epidemics of mid-seventeenth century.
The quotation above, and most of the information on the Primrose Chart, are taken from an obituary of John D. Primrose in “The Scottish Genealogist”, vol. viii, no 2, August 1961. I believe the obituarist was John Fowler Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell also compiled, with his wife, Sheila, a collection of notes and references entitled “Tulliallan Genealogy” (1964?), which contains information on the Primrose family, including a pedigree linking various Primroses recorded on memorial inscriptions in the Tulliallan Old Churchyard.