RUNCIEMAN, Runciman. This name denoted an individual who had charge of the 'rouncies' or hackney-horses (LL. runcinus, a saddle horse). Patrick Runsyman was indweller in Roxburghshire in 1488, and John Runsyman witnessed an instrument of sasine in 1496 (Laing, 217; Home, 27). James Runsiman and William Runsiman were tenants in Birnie, Elginshire, in 1565 (REM., p. 441), Johne Runsyman, reidare at Une, Aberdeenshire, 1574 (RMR.). Alexander Rounseman was tenant of the marquis of Huntlie in 1600 (SCM.k iv, p.267), George Runsieman in Newlandis is in record in 1633 (SCM., m, p. 100), and David Runsiman was retoured heir of John Runsiman in Croylet in the regality of Kinross in 1653. Alexander Runchiman, weaver in Bassiden, 1666 (Edin. App.). Runchyman 1751, Runshiman 1686, Runsoman 1506.

RUNCIE, Runcy. Probably abbreviated forms fo Runcieman, q.v. Runcie is one fo the surnames of oldest standing in the parish of Cullen, Banffshire (New Stat. Acct. Banffshire, p.331). Alexander Runcie in Briach, Abereen, 1786 (Aberdeen CR.).

- George F Black, The Surnames of Scotland1, 1993 ed. Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh

Some defnitions2

runcinus (also runcus)  In Domesday Book (1086) the rouncy appears to have been an agricultural workhorse, but at any rate from the thirteenth century it was an inexpensive (but not cheap) riding horse and the standard mount for an ordinary trooper in the Welsh war of Edward I.  In these circumstances it is not surprising to find that the root of the word is connected with our generic term "horse".  O.Fr. ronci, rous, ross, Ger. das Ross (horse), AS hors.
- R.H.C. Davis, The Medieval Warhorse: Origin, Development and Redevelopment, 1989

"He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe,
In a gowne of faldyng to the knee".
- Geoffrey Chaucer, Prologue to the Canterbury Tales: The Shipman, c.1390

rouncy  A horse, esp. a riding-horse.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

The rouncie was, in the middle ages, the horse hired by the mounted sergeants for going to the wars, (the knights had their own horses).  The man who ran the livery stables may have been the rouncie-man but more probably he was the man sent out to see that the sergeants paid their rent on the horses.  The best rouncies came from the Anglo-Scottish border as they imported Spanish stallions; and the surname appears for centuries only in the Border country, on the Scottish side.
- Sir Steven Runciman, 1974 letter (assumed to be to Steve)


  1. George F Black, The Surnames of Scotland, Birlinn(1993)
  2. Runciman Rootsweb Mailing List Admin Intro ex the late Steve Gibbs

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