The surname of Wardlaw (according to Playfair in his British Family Antiquity, Vol. VIII, published in 1811) is
amongst the oldest in Scotland and probably derives from ‘ward’ in the sense of a watch or guard, and ‘law’, a hill. .
After the Norman Conquest the Wardlaw of that time, together with many other Anglo-Saxon nobles, fled to Scotland, and was hospitably received by King Malcolm Canmore and St. Margaret his Queen, who was sister to Edgar Atheling, the rightful heir to the English Throne. Wardlaw was granted lands in the shire of Galloway bordering on Dumfries. " The origin of the Wardlaws," says Playfair, " is however, of a much older date, as it is an indubitable fact that Cardinal Wardlaw (1317-1387) wrote a genealogy of the family from their first coming from Saxony into England about the year 500 up to his own time : a copy of which MS. was in the French King's library, and preserved until the period of the Revolution; and there is a tradition
in the family that a copy of this MS. was in the possession of the elder branch of the Wardlaws of (Wilton afterwards) Torrie, now extinct, which copy was continued by Sir Henry Wardlaw up to his own time, the close of the 15th century."
In the Middle Ages the family of Wardlaw of Wilton (afterwards of Torrie in Fifeshire) produced two great men, Walter Bishop of Glasgow (1368), Ambassador to England (1368) and France (1371), Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church (1381), and his nephew Henry (1365-1440), Bishop (sometimes called Archbishop) of St. Andrew's, the Founder (1411) of the first University in Scotland (the University of St. Andrew's), and sometime Papal Legate
to Scotland and Ireland. The Wardlaws of Torrie (which estate came to them by the marriage of the heiress of the De Valences to Andrew Wardlaw of Wilton at the beginning of the 15th century) were Barons of Parliament until 1560.
The family of Wardlaw of Pitreavie is descended from Cuthbert Wardlaw of Balmule, a cadet of Torrie. His son Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie and Balmule was in high favour at court, and appointed in 1603 Chamberlain to Queen Anne of Scotland (wife of James VI of Scotland and I of England). His son was created the 1st Baronet of Pitreavie. This title after 1823 devolved on a decayed branch of the family, the present holder, the 16th Baronet, residing in Australia.
Other branches of the family after the religious revolution of the 16th century decayed, and the Wardlaws of Gogarmount probably derive their origin (according to Gibson in his Wardlaws in Scotland: 1912) from John Wardlaw (1561), a cadet of the Torrie family. This branch decayed for two centuries,
and the family fortunes were only restored by David Wardlaw (1773), a well known Lawyer of Edinburgh, the first possessor of Gogarmount, whose eldest son brought into the family by his marriage the blood of the Stuarts and other royal houses.
Link: The Clan Wardlaw