About the name 'Petrie':
PETRIE was a baptismal name meaning 'the son of Peter'. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive
names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During his reign, Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'.
Early records of the name in Scotland mention Andrew Petre, who was vicar of Wick, Caithness in
1530. George Paitre was burgess of Aberdeen in 1620. Patrick Roy MacGregor, executed in 1667 was
commonly known as Petrie Roy MacGregor. The name was extremely popular throughout Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, as it had been bestowed by Christ as a byname on the apostle Simon bar Jonah, the brother of Andrew. The name was chosen for its symbolic significance, is a translation of the Aramaic 'kefa' meaning 'a rock'.
The Petrie Coat of Arms:
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in
tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot,
the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and
embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The Petrie coat
of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory (Ulster King of Arms) in Ireland, 1884,
and was registered at Porthlethen, County Kincardine, Scotland in 1672.
This Family Tree
Since starting this journey, I have spent many hours researching my family
history, searching historical documents, conversing with fellow Petries, inheriting the genealogy
work of others, visiting genealogy centres, and developing an email-based network of Petries across
the world. With each week,the tree grows - people, photos, stories.
The descendents of Robert and Betsy (nee Stark) Petrie, immigrants to New Zealand from Scotland,
1860, came together for the Petrie Family Sesquicentennial Reunion - 1860-2010. The reunion was
held on 25 September, 2010, at Woodend Rugby Football Grounds, Gladstone Road, Woodend, North
Canterbury, New Zealand.
It was interesting to meet with many of my extended family face to face and to learn more of
our rich Petrie history. The reunion bought together family members who brought with them
artifacts, photos, and stories of our rich history in the relatively young New Zealand nation. It
also gave us the opportunity to bring together our common interest in preserving our history for
future generations. Many of us agreed to work together to enhance this family tree and work
towards it becoming a more complete and accurate record. The importance of this effort to preserve
our history has been highlighted with recent events in Christchurch, New Zealand. The devastation
of property and the unfortunate loss of life reminds us that our time here is often short and
later may be too late. This family tree will be a valuable legacy we can leave to future
In October, 2010, we lost a family member, Robert Gordon Petrie, to cancer. Robert devoted many
years to the Petrie family tree, and with the assistance of many others compiled a very
comprehensive tree going back to James Petrie (1686). Robert also gathered a number of stories
about the lives of our ancestors. I have blended Robert's tree with ours, further extending and enhancing our collective understanding of our past. If you are up there watching, Robert, we will ensure that your legacy of research and discovery of our Petrie heritage will be there for all to see for many generations to come.
This family tree is not just about Petries though - whilst it starts with the mainline of
ancestors in our family, it is extended to allow everyone to explore the diverse and intricate way
in which we are all related.
I continue to come into the possession of a number of books which have been written about the
British Isles, including County Angus (Forfarshire) and other counties of Scotland, and some
books about significant Scottish families, which give a very comprehensive account of the region's
history - natural and social.
Whilst visiting the Immigration Museum in Melbourne recently, I came across a number of books which look at Irish Family Trees and the information emerging as Ireland opens its record books
after centuries of secrecy. I now have a whole new part of the family to explore (especially on my
Grandmothers side of the family)as Ireland, Scotland, and England are so closely linked in our rich
It was interesting to find a connection with Robert Burns (writer and poet) and the Walkers (of the
distillery business). The availability and accessibility of records from Scotland has changed
dramatically in reason times so building the tree has become less difficult.
I would thank the kind assistance and uncomparable genealogical skills of Cheryl
Davidson, who has helped to ensure that the tree contains the most accurate records
possible. Also the contributions of Alastair Petrie, Alan Petrie, Leandra Crawford, and many
others in our family are greatly valued and for their assistance and time we are all very
grateful. I would also acknowledge Norma Thain who through her website, has opened up a treasure
trove of photos, documents, and stories, and given me invaluable help in exploring the many Petrie
families in Scotland. I, at least, had little understanding of how we were and are all related,
nor how many Petries there were, how many families have Petries in their number, what Petrie did
for their communities, where they worked, etc....
My father's involvement with the committee who set up the family reunion and his assistance in
obtaining family records is invaluable. Our conversations, as brief as they often are over the
telephone, always lead to memories and stories, all of which help me, much as a detective values
clues. He and my mother have taken a momentus step and embarked on a journey to Friesland and
Scotland - for my Mum this is a return to the place of her birth after 56 years in New Zealand. And
for my father it is a vist for the first time to the birth place of ancestors, in County Angus. I
am sure the photographs and stories are going to be spectacular.
There are many others who continue to assist in this endless journey, and for their support
and effort everyone in this family tree thanks them.
If you are a Petrie (not just in name) and want to get involved then email using the facility on
this webpage and I will add you to the growing list of Petries in our network.