“Russian” Lobans

Do the Lobans of Eastern Europe have a Scottish origin? Or vice versa?

When I first began this One-Name study, I quickly found from the Forebears website that the name Loban occurs with highest frequencies in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. I assumed that this was because the name had a separate origin there.  Disregarding them simplified my study because I could define it as the Scottish surname Loban/Loban, but complicated my project because some of those Lobans subsequently emigrated to the USA, where I could only sort the families by looking for origins in the census records.

Data from Forebears on distribution of Loban as of 2014:

Place Incidence Frequency Rank in Area
Belarus 2,238 1:4,245 503
Ukraine 1,579 1:28,830 4,170
Russia 1,037 1:138,981 16,208
United States 410 1:884,048 66,892

Now, however, I have learned that there was very extensive migration of Scots to the countries along the southern Baltic — Poland, Lithuania and neighboring Belarus, Ukraine and Russia (source) — that suggests  alternate hypotheses. Initially, that those Scots (Highland, Lowland or both) could have started families in the Baltic. But, perhaps the gene flow was from east to west, in which case it would mean the Lowland Lobbans had a Baltic origin (the Highland Lobans have a “celtic” Y-chromosome, but the Lowland Lobbans is “Germanic”). Fortunately, my Y-DNA study has progressed far enough that we now can test single markers for potential membership in either of the two haplogroups or upstream haplogroups, and we should be able to see the relative ages of the groups from the DNA results. So, I am searching for descendants of Baltic or “Russian” Lobans (using the latter geographic term loosely, as it might have been used on census forms).

There is a set of three books by David Dobson, Scots in Poland, Russia and the Baltic States that is available and searchable on Ancestry.com, but there are no Lobans mentioned. Not much of a surprise, of course, since he found 2,500 names and the estimated migration was some 60,000 Scots.  Apparently no Rosetta Stone document comparable to the marriage certificates of William Loban in Holland that clearly establish the beginning of the Labans of Tholen.

Scottish mercenaries in the 1630’s. Scottish mercenaries, assumed to be men of Mackay’s Regiment landing in the Baltic port of Stettin in 1630 or 1631. This print is regarded as the earliest surviving depiction of Highland dress. The original caption states, “They are a strong and hardy people who survive on little food. If they have no bread, they eat roots [turnips may be intended]. When necessary, they can cover more than 20 German miles in a day’s forced march. [1 German mile = 4¾ English miles!] Besides muskets, they carry bows, quivers and long swords.” Source: G Köler – http://warsoflouisxiv.blogspot.com/2009/11/scots-and-irish-in-thirty-years-war.html
Then there is an extensive and expensive book by Peter Paul Baijer (2012)  Scots in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 16th to 18th Centuries: The Formation and Disappearance of an Ethnic Group. Fascinating title!   Perhaps in Poland they have disappeared into other names, since Forebears shows 0 Lobans for modern Poland?  The blurb for this book reads:

“In the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries a considerable number of Scots migrated to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Some sojourned there for some time, while others stayed permanently and exercised commercial business and crafts. The migration stopped in the eighteenth century, and the Scots who remained in Poland seem to have lost their ethnic identity. This book offers an examination and assessment of this migration: numbers of migrants; patterns of settlement; laws regulating Scottish presence in Poland-Lithuania; their commercial, academic, religious and military activities; their social advancement into the Polish nobility; their assimilation and then the eventual disappearance as a distinct ethnic group in Poland-Lithuania.”

See also the summary at the Polish Scottish Heritage site. Belarus was part of that Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

So: several hypotheses, which can be tested with Y-DNA. (1) Is there any genetic relationship between Baltic and Scottish Lobans or are the names independent? (2) If there was gene flow, did it go from east to west or vice versa? Put a different way: are Baltic Lobans descendants of Scottish settlers or vice versa?

If you are part of this population and would be willing to help get evidence on these hypotheses, please contact me via one of the forms (e.g., on Executive Summary page or Contributors page).  I am contacting the Belarus family history community (source), hoping that someone has already researched the Loban name there and would be willing to become a partner on this website.



Page created 2 May 2021 by Christopher S Lobban, with thanks to Ken Nisbet for putting me onto this idea during an online meeting of the Moray/Banff chapter of the Aberdeen & NE Scotland Family History Society. Last updated 4 May.