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The Davidson Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: SAPIENTER SI SINCERE (wisely if sincerely)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Davidson. Your family name simply means ‘the son of David.’ Your family, the Clan Davidson, or Clan Dhai, can be traced back as ‘the descendants of David.’ Throughout Scottish history, there have been numerous individuals named David, and thus, there have been many sons of David associated with your clan. While different individuals have been identified as the progenitor of the clan at various times, all the major Scottish families, including your family, seem to have been connected through the Clan Chattan confederation in the Highlands. This means that there is a shared clanship among the Davidsons, regardless of which specific David they descend from. By the sixteenth century, the name Davidson could be found from Aberdeen in the north to Ayr in the south. Despite the various origins, there seems to be a common identity among these different branches of the Davidson family, expressed through shared iconography. This included an early armorial motif of a running deer pierced by an arrow or the stylized depiction of three arrowheads with a reclining deer. The use of these same symbols suggests a common ancestral origin.

The main line of Clan Davidson traces its progenitor to a man named David Dubh, also known as Black David. David was the son of Donald Comyn and Slane Mackintosh, daughter of the sixth Mackintosh chief, establishing the link between the Davidsons and the Clan Chattan confederation. Unfortunately, the Davidsons, known as Clan Dhai, suffered heavy losses as a fighting force at the Battle of Invernahaven in 1370, which significantly weakened the clan. As a result, they never fully recovered as a cohesive unit. The chief of the Davidsons is said to have relocated northward, giving rise to the Davidsons of Cantray and Tulloch. Among their descendants was Alexander Davidson, also known as ‘Clerk Davidson,’ who served as the town clerk of Fortrose. His son Henry Davidson relocated to London, where he amassed a considerable fortune from the profits of plantation slavery. It was common for slaves to adopt the names of their plantation owners, which is why there are many individuals with the surname Davidson throughout the Caribbean today. In 1762, Henry purchased the Castle of Tulloch near Dingwall, which remained the seat of the chiefs until 1917 when the last Davidson of Tulloch passed away without any heirs.

In 1909, the Clan Davidson Association was established, providing a fresh start for the clan beyond the somewhat stained legacy of their predecessors. In 1997, the chiefship of the clan was officially re-established when the Lord Lyon recognized Duncan Hector Davidson of Davidston, a New Zealander, as the chief. He was later succeeded by his son, Alistair, known as ‘Jock,’ and finally by his grandson, the current chief, Grant Guthrie Davidson.

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Family Crest Motto: SAPIENTER SI SINCERE (wisely if sincerely)

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