Informant: Um, so my last name is Lockhart, and despite being, I don’t know, maybe at best a quarter Scottish, it’s the part of my family that I know the most about just because… you know, having a name attached to you, makes it pretty easy. My grandfather, my Lockhart grandfather is really into genealogy. So he’s like traced all this shit and most of it actually comes from him so most of this is, like, from him. I have no idea how true any of it is.
So I think the Lockhart name… It’s a Scottish clan and each clan literally is like what you think the clan like there’s a little area and all the little Lockharts live there. So then here’s where the name comes from. So, it used to be like Loekard or like Locard. But then, etymologically, it actually got changed to “lock” and “heart,” like the two English words. Because it actually refers to a lock and the heart. Because, and this is the legend my grandfather told me.
So King Robert the Bruce of Scotland went on the Crusades. Okay and I’m pretty sure he died on the Crusades. So Robert the Bruce goes on a big crusade, and he dies. And I think he gets – his heart gets carried back to Scotland, so that he can get buried.
Interviewer: Is that like a Scottish thing that you only need the heart? Like that’s the important thing to bury, the –
Informant: Um, I don’t think there’s anything particularly Scottish about that. I think he was just like, you know, your king’s dead. You want to take them home.
So then they literally just put his heart in a little, metal cage and carried it back. And I literally think it started as a pun. Because there was like some Lockhart who was carrying the cage and the other soldiers must have been “Lochard? Lock … Heart? Lockhart! That’s you. That’s literally your name now.”
Interviewer: So, coincidentally the person who is carrying the heart in the cage had a name that sounded like –
Informant: He was the primordial Lockhart, he was. Yeah. So Lockhart is the English version. And that’s when the family’s name changed. I guess it’s kind of a hit. When you’re carrying the king’s heart. So that’s how the Lockhart name got started.
My informant is a friend of mine from high school who now goes to University of Chicago. He’s Scottish-Irish and his family on his dad’s side has been in America for hundreds of years. He knows this piece because his grandfather on his father’s side had told him. He doesn’t know where his grandfather got it from. He thinks of it as a very interesting story about how his name came about.
The informant is an old high school friend of mine. We’re both home due to online classes and we frequently call each other. During one of our calls over Zoom, I asked if he had any samples of folklore that I can collect and he shared a few.
The story is a very interesting one, and definitely rooted in history. A quick Google search reveals that Robert the Bruce lived in the 13th and 14th centuries, dying in 1329. He is revered in Scotland as a national hero as he won the First War of Scottish Independence against England (the war covered in Braveheart).
Interestingly, Robert did not die on a Crusade. While he had vowed to go on a Crusade, he never actually did and he died of unknown, but nonviolent, causes. Even more interestingly, Robert asked that his heart be buried in Jerusalem and a company of knights (including Sir Simon Locard) set out to make it so. Perhaps this is where the idea of the story taking place on a Crusade came from. The company went to Spain and fought Granada. However, most of the knights were wiped out and a few, including Simon Locard, returned back to Scotland.
To see another retelling of these events, read the novel The Talisman, written by Sir Walter Scott in 1825 and directly inspired by these events.
Scott, Walter. The Talisman. Harper & Bros. Publishers, 1902.