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New Church Cemetery at Eskdalemuir,
 home town of James Yooll and Helen Graham

Graham-Yooll History

Andrew G-Y, our patriarch, on his throne

Though small in number, there are Graham-Yoolls living in Scotland, England, Italy, Argentina, Canada  and the United States.  Although stories of the name's origin differ, the commonly accepted version has been that it was created after the marriage of Helen, the divorced daughter of the 3rd Duke of Montrose, to a commoner early in the nineteenth century.   What we know is that a James Yooll married a Helen Graham.

But which Helen Graham? A certain David Graham, born in 1675, of Cote Farm, Eskdalemuir, married a Helen Beatty. Their son John of the same address had a daughter, Helen, who some contend may have been the Helen whom James Yooll married.

The Yoolls of Scotland spell their names in countless ways, Yule, Yuill and Zuill being among the more common versions.  The original spelling may have been Zuill, supporting the view that they originated as a family of Dutch merchants settled in Scotland.  A 17th century marriage record shows an Andrew Yooll, a merchant born in 1592, this may be the first of of our misspelled Yooll line.

In all likelihood that Andrew Yooll was the forebear of  Andrew Yooll, the 18th century Scottish merchant who fathered, James Yooll, born in 1794 in Dumfriesshire, who married the mysterious Helen..

Their son Andrew Graham-Yooll, a manufacturing chemist and oil merchant born in 1820, was the first to use the  hyphenated name. He had homes in England (Beaconsfield) and Scotland (Edinburgh).  His photo shows him as a Captain in the London Scottish Volunteer Company).  Since he obtained this commission in 1873 at age 53, we can assume enlisted more for social than military need. The double-barreled name, often created to preserve a supposedly aristocratic connection, was symptomatic of the snobbery of Victorian Britain. 

While most Graham-Yoolls assume they belong to the Grahams of Montrose, the Dumfriesshire connection raises the possibility the could belong to the Grahams of Menteith. Only a few family members today have any concrete ties with the Scotland of their ancestry, and so the question becomes of limited interest.



Genealogical research by kinsmen Julian Lea-Jones and Toby Price indicates that our Graham family may be descendents of notorious 16th century Border reivers, raiding and making mayhem among the farmers of Northumberland whenever the spirit happened to strike.  About the Grahams it was said, "probably the most troublesome family on the frontier".  Research continues and more palatable histories may yet emerge. Toby puts forward a well-reasoned argument that the family might stem from the Grahams of  Esk.  But don't get too complacent over that piece of news.  They're described as "arrant thieves" and "both to England and Scotland outlawed"

More about the Border Reivers


Move over, Helen!
The grave of Helen Graham, wife of James Yooll, but also, it would seem,
 of James Yooll himself and of his second wife, Mary Shiel

Other G-Y branches?

Other branches of the family must exist.  If you have ancestors connected with this disreputable line, please contact us -- your cousins would be interested to hear from you!

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