The name Fergusson and its history spreads from Antrim in northeastern Ireland
to the shores of Dalriada under Fergus mor Mac Erc, into the Highlands and to Dunkeld.
Through emigation, either forced or voluntary, the name Ferguson and its rich heritage
have travelled throughout the world. Ideally the name could be traced back so as to bring
the families together to a single ancestral family, The Gaelic,
'MacFhaerghuis' is often translated as'son of the angry', the angry
being Fergus who is thought to have lived in the north of Scotland
early in Scottish history.
Fergusson is a name that has been found in different districts of Scotland almost as
long as the name has been alive although the origin of the clan is generally
considered to be in Ross-shire. The various Fergussons have found their fortunes
in different forms although they often have very different progenitors
depending upon their region of origin.
The Fergussons of Argyllshire and Ayrshire, for example, claim descent
from two different royal families.The Argyllshire Fergussons trace their origins
to Fergus Mor mac Erc, a king of the Scots of Dalriada,
their connection has been immortalised on their family shield
in the form of a boar's head. The Ayrshire Fergussons trace their line back
to Fergus, Prince of Galloway who lived during the reign of David I.
We can appreciate that such a descriptive term would have been applied to someone at some
time in almost every village.
The Fergussons of Argyllshire claim to be the descendants of
Fergus Mór mac Erc, a Scots king from the times of Dalriada,
and represent the connection with the boars head on their shield.
Also making a connection with the early Scots from Ireland are
the Fergussons of Dumfries and Ayrshire, such as the Earls of
The famous Fergusson Earls of Carrick are descended from this line.
There are numerous notable Fergussons from various branches of the family.
Another Fergusson general was Sir Ronald Fergusson of Raith who won the
praise of the Duke of Wellington for his performance during the Peninsular Wars.
A portrait was commissioned depicting himself and his brother who served
in the Royal Company of Archers, the traditional bodyguards of Scottish monarchs.
Ronald's descendants included the Viscount of Novar who represented Leith
in Parliament from 1886 to 1914, and also went on to became Governor General of Australia.
Of the Fergussons of Pitfour, one became Lord Pitfour as well as becoming a
High Court judge in 1765. His son Patrick, a Lieutenant Colonel in the army,
was responsible for the breach loading rifle which was patented in 1776.
The Highland and Lowland Fergussons are still represented by a single chief
on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.
They have records to link their descent to Fergus, Prince
of Galloway who was founder of Dundrennan Abbey before he died
The Kilkerran Fergussons are reckoned to have possessed their
area since the 12th century. The first written record available
however, is regarding John Fergusson of Kilkerran in 1464. Carrick
had a great number of Fergussons by the 1600s, for whom Kilkerran
was their chief.
The Atholl Fergussons were patriots, following the fated
through his incredible military accomplishments in the Civil War,
and again in the Jacobite risings of 1715
and 1745 they fought with their Strathhardle namesakes against
It was the 1st Earl of Carrick's signature
that might suggest the origins of the Fergusson surname,
Duncan, son of Gilbert, the son of Fergus, hence MacFhearguis.
The Gaelic spelling has been corrupted through tranlation into
the forms, MacFergus, MacFerries, and MacFerris.
Since the "f" and "g" are silent in the old language such
variations as MacErries, MacHerries, MacKerras (especially common
in Argyll and Australia) and even MacIrish were formed.
The Anglicised "Fergusson" was widely used by the reign of James IV.
The shortened form of the name with the single "s" was initiated by record
clerks before the 1600's. The common spelling of the day was "Fergussoun"
and by the reign of Charles II, "Fergussone." In the modern era the Ayrshire,
Dumfries, Argyll, and Perthshire families have retained the double "s" while
those of Fife, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Ireland have the single "Ferguson."
We know with certainty that by the 13th century there were men in widely separated
districts of Scotland which called themselves "sons of Fergus." It is recorded in
the "Annals of Ulster" there was in 1216 a day of disaster to the "Clan Fergusa"
at the hand of the Mormaer of Lennox's son. Through the passing of the ages however
the particulars of the story have been lost.
In one of the oldest documents of Scottish history, the Irish
"Tract of the Men of Albyn" ours is the only modern clan listed. Two offshoots
of "Clan Fergusa" from the Royal Race are mentioned.It is thought that from these
offshoots comes the possible origin of regional separations of Fergusson.
Thus lending explaination as to why the Aberdeenshire, Atholl and Ayreshire clans
are under the arms of the boars head and the Dumfries and Galloway Fergussons
are found with the lion rampant arms.
Robert Bruce granted certain lands in Ayrshire to Fergus MacFergus, and in 1466
John Fergusson resigned a portion of his estate to Fergus Fergusson (of Kilkerran),
his son, and Janet Kennedy, his wife. From this line stems Sir Charles Fergusson,
9th Baronet, and Baron of Kilkerran who holds the undifferenced arms as Chief of the Name.
By the reign of James VI, the localities occupied by the various clans were fairly
well defined. Members of the same clan probably wore a sett produced within their
community produced by the local weaver. The distinctive sett of the chief and his
family became regarded as the "Clan Tartan".
In contrast to the list of noble Fergusson soldiers all through
British military history, Robert Fergusson, an Aberdeen bank clerk’s
son, who was born in 1750, died on the straw floor of an Edinburgh
asylum aged twenty three, and was buried in an unmarked grave.
When Robert Burns
came to Edinburgh, he found Fergusson’s grave, dug out his
head and held it in an embrace, for in his few years Fergusson
had composed a body of poetry which Burns held as his aspirational
Burns was granted permission to erect a monument to the young
Fergusson was born in 1750 and died in an Edinburgh asylum aged
twenty three. When Robert Burns came to Edinburgh, he found Fergusson’s
grave, dug out his head and held it in an embrace, for in his
few years Fergusson had composed a body of poetry which Burns
held as his aspirational model.