The Langcake_Longcake Roots Cumberland | Normans | Scotland

The Longcake / Langcake Surname Roots in Cumberland or possibly Scotland?

A critical essay on the theory that the family has Scottish roots by Art Lengkeek

It was in the spring of 2006 that I delivered a talk at the Holme St. Cuthbert local history society on the Langcake families of the Solway Plain (to the west of Carlisle) in present day Cumbria. That essay can now (2012) still be accessed at the society’s website at so it is not necessary to repeat it here again but I do recommend reading it first if you are not familiar with it. My family research basically started with my six times great grandfather George Langcake who moved to the Netherlands in approximately 1705. This George Langcake born in Carlisle in 1681 who moved to Holland with his wife Mary Clever changed his name later to the Dutch phonetic spelling of the Langcake surname into Lengkeek. By now it is quite safe to assume that all bearers of that spelling variation of the Lengkeek surname in Holland and elsewhere are his descendants. My grandfather Adrianus Cornelis Lengkeek, born in Rotterdam in 1879 had already traced his family back to Carlisle and the Solway Plain and worked on it some more during two successive visits in 1947 and 1948. Since then several Dutch Lengkeek relatives of mine have researched the Dutch Lengkeek branch of the tree again, originally by visiting the archives in the various areas wherever the family had lived. Now of course a lot of it is done on-line. One researcher completed a family genealogy book on the Lengkeeks shortly before he died and two more that I know of, are working on their own book(s). I emigrated from Holland to Canada in 1951 and have restricted myself to confirming a few things from Holland but mainly to further family research in the former Cumberland and Westmorland. The actual source of the myth is unknown but there is a very persistent family tradition or legend that the Langcake and Longcake (a variation of the same name) families had their origins in Scotland. My research has shown that there were many Langcakes that were farming on land within Holme Cultram Parish as tenants of the Abbey as far back as the early 1500’s. Moreover we found that a Canon Richard Langcake preached in Carlisle Cathedral and in Bedlington in Northumberland in the 1460’s. This Richard was associated with the Augustinian Monastery in Carlisle which fact is documented with a copy of a Papal Disposition

April 12th, 2006, Art at Durham University holding copy of letter re: Richard Langcake in 1463


in 1463. Since everyone has had parents except for Adam and Eve we may safely state that Langcakes have lived in the general area of Cumberland since about the year 1400 AD. Genealogy as a hobby is becoming more and more popular in our days. Generally it means the study or investigation of one’s lines of descent. In western society this means that usually the male lines of the family receive most of the attention. The only safe way to discover more of your ancestry is to start out with what you already do know that is your own names, then your children’s, parents, grandparents etc and then work back through the generations. The family names (or surnames or last names) that we use to distinguish us from one another have not been around forever. It has been proven for people of European descent that the first family names originated in early medieval times. The first people to assume a family name were the people of royalty and nobility and they usually named their family after their seat of residence (castles, place names etc). For most of us that means that we have difficulty tracing our family name through the normal channels any further back then the 16th or 15th centuries. As you noticed we have been able to trace our surname back, to Richard Langcake, mentioned in a document dated 1463. It is extremely unlikely that we can ever get much further than that unless it is through DNA testing or some other method that we don’t know of yet. We have no idea who or what or even when exactly the myth started that the Langcake family tree has its roots in Scotland. Likewise we may never know who the person is that started the rumor. But how can we put this story to rest forever now that it has grown legs and has gotten a life of its own? Just recently I received an e-mail from a Longcake/Langcake researcher in Cumbria asking me for some clarification on the story that the Langcakes came from Scotland to settle in Cumbria. He received a phone call followed by a letter wherein a Lengkeek couple from the Netherlands attempted to show evidence that there is a real connection with Scotland. My correspondent in Cumbria had remained unconvinced and asked me if I could shed more light on this subject. He followed it up by sharing the correspondence he had with them. The correspondence dates back to June 1998 and it is amazing indeed that the story is still alive now at the beginning of 2012. I will not disclose the names of the people who signed it at this time because I have not been able to contact them on this subject and perhaps they have recanted by now. After all they have not been able to back up their story with proof after all these years. In any case they will have the burden of proof to substantiate their story. I will relate the so-called proof or evidence they give and the reader can be the judge. The Loch Langaig story. The writer(s) of the letter wrote: …I told you that there is a Loch

Langaig in the Isle of Skye (Trotternish); my wife and I have been there in the early 80’s; the pronunciation is almost like “Langcake”; … In the first place it is more likely that the inhabitants of Skye would pronounce the word
Langaig more like Long-gegg and that does not at all sound like the Dutch pronunciation of the Lengkeek name and the way a Cumbrian would pronounce the word Langcake in dialect sounds more like Long-cake. Soundex a phonetic algorithm for indexing names by sound, going by the way it is pronounced in English and widely used in genealogy, does not even associate Langaig with Langcake. In the second place all Scottish sources on the origins of place names, that I 2

could find, explain the ending aig at the end of a place name, as originating from the Norse language word vik meaning bay. 1 In this Gaelic speaking part of Scotland and especially prevalent along the coast it almost always means bay so Loch Langaig would become the Loch (lake) of the Long Bay. In the third place the distance from Carlisle to Sky, roughly 400 km or 250 miles would make it highly unlikely that someone from Skye would have moved that far, from Skye to Cumberland and carry the Langcake name there prior to 1400 as there was no known connection with any nobility in our family either. We have to look north “to the Normans”. The letter also states: In 1978 we met a Mr. ….

Lengkeek (Full name withheld here by Art), he showed us large sheets of “pedigree – data” all concerning the Langcake/ Longcake family. We asked him “why the Langcake/Longcakes?” and he answered that “the family was a very old Cumbrian family” but at the same time he said that for ancestry before this we had to look north; literally he said “to the Normans”. We think, he meant Northern people and that he did NOT refer to the Vikings.
The above is my translation of a quote in this letter written by the Lengkeek couple from Holland. Maybe because they were Dutch we cannot fault them too much for their limited knowledge of English history but it was the Normans indeed that conquered much of England. The Normans were led by the Duke of Normandy and invaded the country from the south (Normandy) on 28 December 1066. He became known in British history as William the Conqueror after he defeated King Harold II at the battle of Hastings. King Harold II had his own problems already at the time because even though Harold had won the battle of Stamford Bridge in northern England, his army was badly depleted. The Vikings initially occupied the east of England and the Normans the west and gradually the Normans controlled most of England. This same William the conqueror then waged a whole series of campaigns to subjugate the north of England. He started a systematic scorched earth policy where much of the country was depopulated and some 100,000 people are believed to have died. Nearly all the aristocratic families were replaced with his own French speaking supporters from Normandy. After this Harrying of the North (harrowing) was completed, William moved in new Norman settlers into Yorkshire and the rest of the north and indeed there were Normans who moved in and settled there, worked the land and intermarried with what

Ecclefechan, called “Fechan” by the locals. Note the “burn” (stream) running through the middle of the village.

The first source I found for this was Place names of Skye by Mr. Jonathan MacDonald who was curator of the Skye Museum of Island Life in Kilmuir, Isle of Skye. The second from a book by H. Cameron Gillies, MD with the title The Place-Names of Argyll, David Nutt 57-59 Long Acre London, 1906


was left of the original Anglo Saxon population. Two Longcake families mention links to the town of Ecclefechan. The Lengkeek couple from Holland also brought up the little town of Ecclefechan in Dumfries and Galloway and tried to prove the Scottish connection by mentioning that two families that they had met on previous visit(s) to Cumbria had mentioned Ecclefechan as the place where they had either come from, or that they had relatives living there. This little village with a population of 746 in 2001 is located just 8 miles or 13 kilometers northwest of the English border near Carlisle. I managed to find a nice old picture adorned with Scottish thistles to go with this story. During the early medieval times the village lay within the British Kingdom of Rheged and the name Ecclefechan is derived from the Brythonic (Celtic) language for “small church”. (Source: Wikipedia but it also states that other sources claim it came from Gaelic for the 7th century Saint Fechin) An on-line search for Langcake or Langcake names in old cemetery records for Ecclefechan and the rest of Dumfries and Galloway did not produce any hits for me. Now, I don’t doubt that from time to time some Langcakes or Longcakes married Scottish lads or lassies but there is no evidence of any Scottish Langcake settlers on the Solway Plain that I am aware of before 1800. Even if there were connections between certain Longcake families and the border country just to the north in Scotland, it would still be up to the Dutch Lengkeeks to prove that there were any in the fifteenth century and prior to that. I do not claim to be a historian and it was not my favorite subject in high school, there were just too many important dates to memorize. But in my study of the old Langcake family I acquired at least a basic knowledge of the British history with a particular interest in the history, language and culture of the Anglo/Scottish border region. In the context of this story it would be useful to emphasize that the territorial struggles between the English and the Scots did not start with the Border Reivers. In 1135 David King of Scots took Carlisle and withdrew. Then in 1173 William, King of Scotland besieged Carlisle without being able to conquer it. The following year he was back and continued the siege for several months to the point of surrendering. But relief came by the capture of the Scottish King at Alnwick in (present day) Northumberland. His successor Alexander took the city of Carlisle in 1216 and afterwards the Castle there that had initially held out during the long siege. The English took the city back in 1217, then in 1296 Carlisle was besieged again by a group of Scottish nobles but it was so bravely defended that they decided to withdraw after only three days. In 1315 Robert Brus (or Bruce) then King of Scotland besieged Carlisle for ten or eleven days but2 it was bravely defended by its governor. Still turbulent as this period was that I described in the previous paragraph, it is still regarded by historians as the golden age of the border country because in the interludes between the various attacks there were years of relative peace. It should be quite safe for me to quote a few things here now from George McDonald Fraser’s: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers

Source of information: Magna Brittanica – Parochial History, as transcribed on Rootsweb West Marches list.


The Steel Bonnets. This subject is very controversial McDonald Fraser writes: …with tremendous daring one can try to look at the traditional English-Scottish relationship from what, one hopes, is as nearly impartial a British point of view as possible. (Practically every word of what follows will be denied, refuted, and laughed to scorn somewhere or other: I would only remark that the conclusions have been reached by a Scot born and bred in England, and accustomed to be regarded as a Scotsman south of the border, and an Englishman north of it. This in itself is probably significant of the attitudes on both sides.)3 For over 350 years up to the end of the 16th century what are now Northumberland, Cumbria, The Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway rang to the clash of steel and thunder of hooves. As George McDonald Fraser explains in his book “The Steel Bonnets”: “The great border tribes of both Scotland and England feuded continuously among themselves. Robbery and blackmail were everyday professions; raiding arson, kidnapping, murder and extortion were an accepted part of the social system ... History has christened them the Border Reivers.”
We never did stop at Ecclefechan on any of our travels although we must have breezed by on A74 several times in the past. The village’s biggest claim to fame, I just discovered, is that it is both the birthplace and final resting place of the famous Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle. Next time we drive by we must take the time to visit the old cemetery there and read the names of many of the Reiver families on the gravestones there.4 It would be tempting to write more about the Border Reivers and the effect it had on both sides of the border including the Solway Plain but we can’t do it in the context of this story. The country north of Carlisle and extending far into the Scottish lowland was called the Debatable Lands. The reason was that both countries laid claim to it and the countryside on both sides was Laid Waste and Burnt many times over the time of three and one half centuries. It was not until the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland as King James I in 1603, after the death of Queen Elizabeth I that the situation on the borders began to change. One of the first things the new king did was organize the relocation or you might say deportation of some of the worst offenders among the Reiver families including many Graemes (Grahams), Johnstones and associated families mainly to Ireland. Now it happens to be that Ecclefechan was right in the heartland of the debatable lands and it was said of the area around there that the inhabitants were so bad that no Christians lived there. Another famous Scottish writer and philosopher by the name of R(obert) B(ontine) Cunninghame Graham was born in London on May 24, 1852 of a Scottish family with roots in the Dumbarton area. He was quite wealthy but spent many years as an activist politician and an

George McDonald Fraser was born in Carlisle of Scottish parents on April 2, 1925 and died of cancer on the Isle of Man on the third day of January, 2007 at age 82. 4 The famous Norman Vincent Peale, the American author of the “Power of Positive Thinking” also wrote another book with the title “The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking”. In that book he calls Thomas Carlyle: “The apostle of tough-mindedness”. Peale sat at Carlyle’s gravesite reading from some of Carlyle’s works. If Ecclefechan was good enough for Norman Vincent Peale to visit, it is good enough for me.


advocate for labour, a Scottish parliament and many other causes. He died in Buenos Aires, Argentina but his body was shipped home to be buried beside his wife at Ichmahome, Lake of Monteith, Stirling, Scotland. I am sure that he was not the only Scott who wanted to be buried in his country of birth. I want to quote a few parts from one of his short stories or sketches with the title: Beattock for Moffat. He tells the story of a Scotchman called Andra (Andrew) born in Moffat who has spent most of his life in London and married a cockney wife named Jayne who came from a world bounded within the lines of Plaistow, Peckham. Andra’s brother Jock has come to London to see his ailing brother for the last time because it was quite clear that he did not have much time left to live. Jock who had trouble leaving his farm at Moffat “ was not impressed by the big city at

all and he sat in that dour and seeming apathetic attitude which falls upon the country man, torn from his daily toil and plunged into a town“.
So the story starts when the sick man Andra, his brother Jock from Moffat and Andra’s cockney wife Jayne arrive at the station. The bustle on the

Euston platform stopped for an instant to let the men who carried him to the third class compartment pass along the train. Gaunt and emaciated, he looked just at death’s door, and as they propped him in the carriage between two pillows, he faintly said,: “Jock do ye thing I’ll live as far as Moffat? I should na like to die in London in the smoke.” A little while later Andra says to his brother: Jock…do you think it’ll be rainin’ aboot Ecclefechan? Aye…sure to be rainin’ aboot Lockerbie. Nae Christians there Jock, a Johnstones and Jardines, ye mind? (both the
Johnstones and the Jardines were infamous reiver families) We will let the threesome continue their journey together for a while and rejoin them when they are getting closer to Lancashire. The two brothers are quite matter-of-factly discussing the fact that Moffat now has a brand new hearse that he could have a ride in, Jock says; Ye ken,

we’ve got a braw new hears outby, sort of Episcopalian lookin’ we ‘gless a’roond so’ you can see the kist. In the meantime Jayne not being Scotch but Anglo-Saxon took quite another view
and seemed to think that the mere mention of the word death was impious holding the English view that unpleasant things should not be mentioned. The sight of the hills of Cumbria makes Andra feel better and he says: I‘d almost lay a wager now I’d last to Moffat Jock. The Shap, ye


ken, I aye looked at as the beginning of the run home… The train stops at Carlisle and the sleepy porters bawl out: “change for Maryport” .
I will copy the rest of the journey literally from the story5 so you can get a feel of the border country called the debatable lands north of the present day English-Scotch border:

After the train left Carlisle, they crossed the river Eden. It ran from bank to bank, its water swirling past as wildly as when “The Bauld Buccleugh” and his “Moss Troopers” bearing “the Kinmount’ fettered in their midst, plunged in and passed it. Whilst the keen Lord Scroope stood on the brink amazed and motionless, Gretna, so close to England, and yet a thousand miles away in speech and feeling, found the sands now flying through the glass. All through the mosses which once were the "Debateable Land" on which the moss-troopers of the clan Graeme were used to hide the cattle stolen from the "auncient enemy," the now repatriated Scotchman murmured feebly "that it was bonny scenery" although a drearier prospect of "moss hags" and stunted birch trees is not to be found. At Ecclefechan he just raised his head, and faintly spoke of "yon auld carle, Carlyle, ye ken, a dour thrawn body, but a gran' pheelosopher," and then lapsed into silence, broken by frequent struggles to take breath. His wife and brother sat still, and eyed him as a cow watches a locomotive engine pass, amazed and helpless, and he himself had but the strength to whisper "Jock, I'm dune, I'll no' see Moffat, blast it, yon smoke, ye ken, yon London smoke has been ower muckle for ma lungs." The tearful, helpless wife, not able even to pump up the harmful and unnecessary conventional lie, which after all, consoles only the liar, sat pale and limp, chewing the fingers of her Berlin gloves. Upon the weather-beaten cheek of Jock glistened a tear, which he brushed off as angrily as it had been a wasp. "Aye, Andra'" he said, "I would hae liket awfu’ weel that ye should win to Moffat. Man, the rowan trees are all in bloom, and there's a bonny breer upon the corn aye, ou aye, the reid bogs are lookin' gran' the year but Andra', I'll tak' ye east to the auld kirk yaird, ye'll no liken onything aboot it, but we'll hae a heartsome funeral." Lockerbie seemed to fly towards them, and the dying Andra' smiled as his brother pointed out the place and said, Aye mind, there are no ony Christians in it," and answered, " Aye, I mind, naething but Jardines," as he fought for breath. The death dews gathered on his forehead as the train shot by Nethercleugh, passed Wamphray, and Dinwoodie, and with a jerk pulled up at Beattock just at the summit of the pass.6 So in the cold spring morning light, the fine rain beating on the platform, as the wife and brother got their almost speechless care out of the carriage, the brother whispered, " Dam't,

My apologies for quoting so much of “Beattock for Moffat”, although to the best of my knowledge and belief the story is long out of copyright by now. I thought it would be good to insert it in its original dialect because in my opinion it gives such a great image of the historical sensitivities between the two nations. The dialect spoken just north of the border in Scotland has a lot of similarities with the dialect of northern Cumberland so I am sure that will not be a problem there. In my opinion it is impossible to “translate” this story into the “Queen’s English” and still do justice to it, Art.

My friend Peter Ostle who knows the area well pointed out that Beattock is actually located at the southern foot of the pass rather than the summit but rather than correcting R.B. Cunninghame Graham’s story I mention it here.


ye've done it, Andra', here's Beattock; I'll tak’ ye east to Moffat yet to dee." But on the platform, huddled on the bench to which he had been brought, Andra' sat speechless and dying in the rain. The doors banged to, the guard stepping in lightly as the train flew past, and a belated porter shouted, "Beattock, Beattock for Moffat," and then, summoning his his last strength, Andra' smiled, and whispered faintly in his brother's ear, "Aye, Beattock for Moffat?" Then his head fell back, and a faint bloody foam oozed from his pallid lips. His wife stood crying helplessly, the rain beating upon the flowers of her cheap hat, rendering it shapeless and ridiculous. But Jock, drawing out a bottle, took a short dram and saying, "Andra', man, ye made a richt gude fecht o' it," snorted an instant in a red pocket handkerchief, and calling up a boy, said, "Rin, Jamie, to the toon, and tell McNicol to send up and fetch a corp." Then, after helping to remove the body to the waiting room, walked out into the rain, and, whistling "Corn Rigs" quietly between his teeth lit up his pipe, and muttered as he smoked " A richt gude fecht man aye, ou aye, a game yin Andra', puir felly. Weel, weel, he'll hae a braw hurl onyway in the new Moffat hearse."7

Note: We had a difficult time finding a nice old picture of Moffat, the way it would have looked at the time when the author R.B. Cunninghame Graham wrote the above story. Here is a nice old e-card that Hanna sent to Art from the Francis Frith Collection.


A braw hurl would mean something like a fine or a great ride in this context. I suggest consulting a good ScottishEnglish dictionary for the “problem words’.


A few final notes by Art: I hope that the reader does not get the idea that I have something against Ecclefechan as such. I already mentioned that I hope to have the opportunity sometime to visit it. I just think that it is strange that some of my Dutch relatives think that the Langcake family might have their ancient roots there. It is very well possible that there were some Langcakes or Longcakes with family ties in Ecclefechan but this would likely have been more recently than 1800 and would not prove at all that the Langcake family as such had its roots in Scotland. I did find a Richard Longcake in the records who at the time of the 1881 British Census was living in Elswick, Northumberland, England. This Richard Longcake was born in Sunderland, Durham, England on 26 November, 1814, the son of Joseph Longcake and Margaret Rochester but his wife Sarah, maiden name not mentioned, was born in Dumfries, Scotland. The exact location is not mentioned but who knows it may even be in Ecclefechan and she may be a descendant of some infamous reiver family. I can’t wait to read the names on the gravestones there. At least one Longcake could not resist the charms of a pretty Scottish lassie! The Langcake name is mentioned nowhere in all the stories about the Border Reivers on either side of the border and I looked in vain to see it in any of the displays in Carlisle’s museum. It may be due to them living on the Solway Plain at some distance from the city of Carlisle. As far as Moffat is concerned it is rather hilarious that it is also located in the Debatable Land and that its biggest attraction appears to be the “Devil’s Beeftub”, the bowlshaped valley a little more than one mile from Moffat where the Reivers drove some of the thousands of cattle they stole over the years. Some of them must have belonged to the Langcakes of the Solway Plain; I would not be surprised if they were. Likewise I would be surprised if some of my forebears did not take part when Hue and Cry was raised and the victims banded together to retrieve their lost possessions and steal some more for their trouble. The good guys did not live on one side of the border and the bad ones on the other, nothing was that simple. In the meantime if some of my Lengkeek “cousins” in Holland still want to continue pretending they are Caledonians, play the bagpipes and dance around in kilts I won’t try to stop them. I just think it is rather silly when you carry things to such an extreme that you sign your letters with a PS: I wear the Kilt. Art Lengkeek.


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