Entry in Scottish Surnames by Donald Whyte


DAVIDSON Occasionally, a non-Gaelic form of patronymic was adopted in the Highlands. Davidson, 'son of David', is a good example. They came to form Clann Da~ idh, associated with Clan Chattan, but their early history is obscure. According to tradition, the Davidsons of Invernahaven, in Badenoch, were originally a branch of the Comyns, but in a troublous period (perhaps in 1308, when Robert the Bruce defeated the Comyns at Inverness), they attached themselves to Clan Chattan. Donald Dhu, the eponymous ancestor; is said to have married a daughter of Angus Mackintosh, the 6th chief, and to have become a leading member of the confederation. The Davidsons were once powerful, but became involved in clan feuds, which did nothing for their prosperity. Some historians believe they were involved in the famous clan battle at Perth in 1396, but this is uncertain. At any rate, their influence diminished, and afterwards they are found in small groups.

The Davidsons who owned Tulloch, in Ross-shire, from 1762 to early in the present century, were considered to be of the ancient stock. Their recorded ancestor was Donald Davidson, in Cromarty, whose son was Alexander; father of William, who married in 1719, Jean, daughter of Kenneth Bayne, nephew and heir of Duncan Bayne of Tulloch. Their son Henry purchased Tulloch in 1762. His brother and successor was Duncan Davidson, MP for Cromarty, 1760-96. Duncan's son Henry was succeeded in 1827 by his son Duncan. As 'Younger of Tulloch', he had been MP for Cromarty, 1826-30, and 1831-32. He was married five times, and left eighteen children. Duncan was succeeded by his eldest son, Duncan Henry, 1836-89, whose son Duncan, 1865-1917, matriculated arms in 1906.

The Davidsons of Cantray, Inverness, descended from Sir David Davidson, born ca. 1788, only son of David Davidson and Marie Cuthbert. This family seems to have ended with an heiress, Edith Mary Davidson, born 1892. Another northern group, the Davidsons of Inchmarlo, Deeside, descended from John Davidson of Tillychetly, who died in 1802. His son Duncan, an advocate in Aberdeen, succeeded to Tillychetly, and purchased Inchmarlo. He was succeeded by his son Patrick, also an advocate, father of Duncan whose second son, Leslie, served in the Royal Artillery in World War 1 The association of Davidsons with Aberdeen, was of long standing. Robert filius David, or Davidson, Provost of Aberdeen, was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. There were Davidsons at Auchinhamper; in the 15th century, and at Newton, Tillymorgan and Cambogie. Alexander Davidson of Newton assumed the name and arms of Gordon of Gight, and this line ended with an heiress, the mother of Lord Byron.

Clearly there are other Davidsons in no way connected with those of the north. John Andrew Davidson, born 1928, 2nd Viscount Davidson, is descended from John Davidson, 1808-93, a native of Scone, who emigrated to Argentina. In Ayrshire there were Davidsons at Drumley, Greenan and Pennyglen. Davidsons in Roxburghshire seem to have formed a small independent clan in the 16th and 17th centuries. The chief family was seated at Samieston, and the male line ended with James Davidson, whose four nieces were co-heiresses in 1670. There was an influential Davidson family at Currie, Mid Lothian. From another family, many of whom were clergymen, descended the Most Rev. Randal Thomas Davidson, 1848-1930, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tom Paterson - Last updated 25 Jan 2019