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Sunday, September 27, 2009 08:04 PM





Clan Dixon History



The Dickson/Dixon (and other derivates) family name was first found in Scotland. Early records show Thomas Dicson, a follower of the Douglas clan, at the capture of Castle Douglas in 1307. 

Although the name was Scottish in it's origin, with the spelling of Dicson or Dickson (the most common usage in Scotland today), being a Borders counties name it also spread to the north and midlands of England to become a popular family name with the spelling of Dixon. 

It was during the 11th century that the use of surnames was introduced to the British Isles by the Normans. They were usually local (a place or landmark), patronymic ("son of"), a trade or profession name, or a nickname. The name Dixon/Dickson is a patronymic name, meaning "Dick's son" or "son of Dick". Coming from Scotland it might seem strange that it is not "MacDick", but this is simply explained again by it's Borders origins. 

The ancient family motto is said to be "Fortes Fortuna Juvat", which is Latin for "Fortune Favors the Brave". 

In his book, The Border and Riding Clans and a Shorter History of Clan Dixon, (published by Albany, New York, 1888) B. Homer Dixon wrote: - "In a charter from King Robert Bruce about A.D. 1306 to Thomas Dickson it [the name] occurs as Filius Ricardi (son of Richard) and the Charter is endorsed Carta Thomas fil Dick." 

"Nesbit in his Heraldry (Edinburgh, 1722) says 'The Dicksons are descended from one Richard Keith, said to be a son of the family of Keith's Earls Marshalls of Scotland.' and in proof thereof carry the chief of Keith Marischal. This Richard was commonly called Dick and the 'son' was styled after him. The affix of son in the Lowlands answering to the prefix Mac in the Highlands." 

Because of the connection to Richard Keith, the descendants of Thomas Dicson/Dickson are considered part of the Clan Keith and use their tartan. 

The Chief of Clan Keith has the Latin motto "Veritas Vincit," which translates "Truth Conquers" which is also used on their clansman's badge.

In 1583, a list of Gentlemen and Surnames in the Marches of England and Scotland includes the name Dixon as Gentlemen of the East March. Many Dixons can also be found within the English East March, presumably having begun their association there when Berwick-Upon-Tweed was Scottish and it's Governor, the Keith Marischal.  

Thomas Dickson himself has quite a history. He was associated in some way with William Wallace of "Braveheart", and he was killed by the English in 1307 in battle. Tradition states that he was slashed across the abdomen but continued to fight holding the abdominal wound closed with one hand until he finally dropped dead. He is buried in the churchyard of St. Bride of Douglas, and his marker shows him with a sword in one hand and holding his belly with the other.  Robert de Brus (Bruce) had made him Castellan of Castle Douglas the year before he was killed.

The Dixons (and other Borders Families) were formally recognized as a Clan by the Scottish Parliament in 1587  when the Parliament of Scotland passed a statute "For the quieting and keping in obiedince of the disorderit subiectis inhabitantis of the bordors hielands and Ilis." Attached to the statute was a Roll of the Clans, and contained both a borders portion and a highland portion. The borders part of the Roll, shows the Dixons as a clan with chiefs in the East March.  According  to the book, Traits and Stories of the Scottish People, London, 1867, the Clan Dixon was known as 'The Famous Dicksons'!

Their daughters appear to have been likewise eminent, in their case we must suppose both for beauty and accomplishments, as the old rhyme says:

"Boughtrip and Belchester
 Hatchetknows and Darnchester
 Leetholm and the Peel;
 If ye dinna get a wife in ane of thae places
 Ye'll ne'er do weel."

Buhtrig, Belchester, Leitholm and the Peel were Dickson baronies. Darchester belonged at one time to the Trotters.

In 1591, two bonds were signed by the principal Barons and Gentlemen of the East Marches pledging themselves to serve the King against Bothwell, and of the forty-one subscribers whose names have been preserved four were Dicksons.

In 1603, when the crowns of Scotland and England were united under James VI of Scotland, he found it expedient to disperse the unruly Border Clans to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. 

Border clans naturally differed quite widely from Highland clans, who after all had an active existence that lasted a century and a half longer than that of the border clans, giving them extra time for development. A main point of difference was the possession by the Highland clans of Gaelic speech and a unique culture of their own until 1745. The Highlanders were also geographically much more isolated from the general course of Scottish history than were the Scottish Borderers. Both Border and Highland clans, however, had the essential feature of chiefship, and had territories in which a majority of their clansmen lived. 

Border clans did practice some Gaelic customs, such as tutorship when an heir who was a minor succeeded to the chiefship, and giving bonds of manrent. Although feudalism existed, tribal loyalty was much more important, and this is what distinguished the Borderers from other lowland Scots. In fact, the same is also true of the English Borderers.