The first Hunters arrived in Ayrshire in the opening years of the 12th century, having come over from Normandy about four years after the Norman Conquest. Experts in hunting and fieldcraft with generations of experience in the forests of their land of origin, these Norman lords were invited to Scotland by King David I who was himself brought up in the Norman court in London.
In papers relating to the King’s Inquistion, a Court of Law held in the King’s presence in 1116 we find mention of Willielmo Venator, William the hunter, the first Laird, Royal Huntsman to the Kings and Queens of Scotland. There is a family legend that says the Lady of the first Laird had the honour of serving Queen Matilda as lady-in-waiting.
William the Hunter put his expertise to good use in the wild forests and fens of Hunterston, then rich in wildlife, which surrounded the site of the timber fortress. This became Hunter’s Toun, a village & port on the peninsula where Hunterston has always been.
As recognition of his family’s skills, the title of Prawfectus Venatorus Regis – Royal Huntsman, became a hereditary appointment.