The name is a well-known Ayrshire (Southwest Scotland) surname derived from the lands of Dunlop in the District of Cunningham. The first part is derived from the Gaelic word "dun" which means "a fort or strong place" (all Iron Age fortresses in this language were called "Duns", i.e.: Dun Aidenn, Dunadd, Dumbarton, Dunbar, Dunkelt, etc).
The derivation of the second part is uncertain, but scholars say that it probably derives from the Gaelic word "laib" or "lub", (pronounced "labh") meaning "the winding or bending."
The many variations of the spelling of the name "Dunlop" were caused mainly by the heavy Gaelic accenting of the second syllable, (DunLOP). According to George Black, In about the middle of the 19th Century the name was locally (Ayrshire) pronounced Delap or Dulap. Because of the pronunciation ,the early families spelled the name to reflect the way they thought it should be, then their descendants (usually) spelled their name that way.
Rest assured, that if you are a Dunlap, Dunlapp, Dunlape, Dunlopp, Dunlope, Dunloup, Downlop, Dalape, Delap, DeLap, Delappe, Dulop, Dulap, Dulape, Dullope, Donlop, Donlap, Dunlip, Dewlap or any of a close variation of that spelling, then you are a DUNLOP.
The Dunlop Family is not officially recognized as a "Clan" by the Lord Lyon of Scotland. Families were affiliated with "Clans" due to economic or military necessity. The Dunlop's were a landed noble family listed in references as an Armigerous (holding a Coat of Arms) Family. There is evidence that the family was a noble one of the Kingdom of Strathclyde.
We had military and economic wealth and were protected by the relationships we had with other nobles (Hamilton's, Cunningham's, Browns) of the area. In other words, we did not need to be clan affiliated. The district that the Dunlops lived in was the Cunningham District. All Dunlops are welcome at the Clan Cunningham USA tents at any highland games in the States. Or the Scottish Families Association. And feel free to gather or sponsor a House of Dunlop tent at any Scottish Gathering.
We do have a Chief of the Name ("of that Ilk"), a Coat of Arms, tartan, badges, and a very distinctive history, as do many lowland Families. The Lyon Court recognizes the Coat of Arms, and those of the cadet branches, as does Burke's and other references of Scottish Royalty. Many of the Dunlop line were descendants of Robert the Bruce, the Wallace line, and other British Royalty. The Dunlop's' were a very influential landed Family in Ayrshire and Glasgow and you can see, by reading the rest of this site not only in Scotland, but also wherever displaced Scots landed, there was a Dunlop who made our mark.
We know that both the Brythonic Celts (Welsh, Strathclyde Brits) and the DalRiadan Goidelic Celts (Irish, later also known as Scotti) who later occupied this area gave the name Dun Lop ("Fortress" at the Bend) to the stronghold built on a hill around which the "burn" or stream called the Glazert winds. To this very day that rise is still known as Dunlop Hill. The family from which we all descend took their (our) name from this Celtic landmark. The area was populated in the 5th century and earlier by the Damnoni tribe.
The Celtic Chief who ruled the locals here from pre-Roman times (Romans were present in Britain from approx 26AD- 406 AD), according to legend, called himself the "Dunlop of Dunlop". Most surnames came into use in the 1200's. There is circumstantial evidence that the Dunlop was a noble of Strathclyde, but all records of that kingdom are lost.
After Scottish King Malcolm annexed the Kingdom of Strathclyde, he started the feudalization of the entire area. His successor, King David I, granted Lauderdale and Cunninghame to a Hugh de Moreville, an Anglo-Norman knight, who was appointed Hereditary Constable and built a castle at Kilmaurs. De Moreville founded Kilwinning Abbey about 1140. Hugh was succeeded by his son, Richard, and then his son, William de Moreville. William de Moreville granted the lands of Stewarton to Dom Godfrey De Ros. His son, Godfrey De Ros, served as Sheriff of Ayr and was appointed an ambassador to the court of England. It is believed that the adjacent lands Of Dunlop were also included in De Ros's possessions. That is , he was given the Fortress on Dunlop Hill. He called the local site Boarland and also Overhill. His son, of the same name, also held these lands. The Greater estate was called Hunthall, for the ancient seated Laird of Dunlop was appointed huntsman to the Norman de Ros. The first recorded use, though, of the Dunlop surname appears during The Thirteenth Century in various documents (i.e.: a record of indenture between Godfrey de Ross and the Burgesses of Irvine, witnessed by Dom [baron] Willelmus de Dunlop in 1260.)
This hereditary Celtic Mormaer, (Dunlop of Dunlop) whose line had ruled on Dunlop Hill for ages and was arguably of Noble lineage of the Kingdom of Strathclyde...was appointed the Huntsman for De Ros, and then given land to build a large manor house on the banks of the Clerkland Burn about a mile away from the Hill. Dunlop House (the fourth in a series) still stands on this site. The main branch of the Dunlop Family resided at this Clerkland estate, called Hunthall.
In 1407 Alexander Dunlop (5th of the Name) was titled "Dunlop of that ilk". (This title was peculiar to the Scots, denoting not just the gentleman, but that he was the Chief of all the Clans of his surname. The title is more honorable than modern titles such as Earls, Dukes, etc.) Today that title is held by James Stuart Wallace Dunlop (1968-), 25th of that Ilk and 30th Chief of the Name ; only son of Keith Stuart Wallace Dunlop, living near Devon, England. For the entire lineage of that Ilk see Dunlop Royalty