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Matheson Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: FAC ET SPERA (Do and hope)

Let me share a captivating chapter from the history of your family, the Mathesons. Just like many other clans and kindreds, your family’s name has undergone the anglicisation process from several potential Gaelic origins. One possible derivation could be ‘Mic Mhathghamhuin’, signifying ‘son of the bear’. This holds special significance, as the chief’s arms feature two bears as supporters, symbolizing courage and strength. Another plausible Gaelic origin is MacMhathain, which translates to ‘son of the heroes’. In essence, regardless of the specific derivation, your family’s name carries a resilient undertone.

Though it remains uncertain whether the Mathesons are of Celtic or Norse descent, both possibilities are rooted in history, considering the significant influence of the Norse over the Western Isles. Your family’s roots are believed to have taken hold around Lochalsh, Lochcarron, and Kintail, where they received land grants from the esteemed Celtic Earls of Ross. In the year 1262, a Scottish army, following the command of Alexander III, embarked on an expedition to Skye, driven by the desire to liberate the isles from Norwegian rule. Recorded among the leaders of this expedition is Kjarnac or Cormac Macmaghan. The subsequent year saw the Battle of Largs, leading to the shift of Western Isles dominion under the Macdonalds as Lords of the Isles, a realm in which the Mathesons aligned themselves. Notably, they fought for Donald, Lord of the Isles, in 1411 during the Battle of Harlaw, where Alasdair, the chief, was captured. During this era, the Mathesons were reputed to have boasted a warrior count exceeding two thousand.

With the decline of the Lords of the Isles, the Mathesons faced challenging times. Their position was nestled uncomfortably between the influential and rivalrous Macdonalds and Mackenzies. In 1539, Chief Iain Dubh met his fate defending Eilean Donan Castle, having become constable of the formidable Mackenzie stronghold through marriage. Branches of the Mathesons also acted as baillies to the Earls of Sutherland in the late fifteenth century, establishing their presence on the northern side of Loch Shin. Your family’s history intertwines with significant events, including Donald Matheson of Shiness standing against the Jacobites during the 1715 uprising. An impactful moment arrived in 1827 when the trading house of Jardine Matheson was founded.

Chief John Matheson, unlike his Sutherland relatives, aligned himself with the Jacobites and fought valiantly at the Battle of Culloden. Following the defeat of the prince’s forces, John found himself in a precarious situation. Remarkably, he managed to offer the Hanoverian officers advice on locating quality building stone, unknowingly safeguarding his return home. The tale of John’s resilience showcases the enduring spirit of your family. Your family, the Mathesons, carries a legacy of valor and determination, spanning from ancient times to the present day, a testament to the indomitable nature of your heritage.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: FAC ET SPERA (Do and hope)

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