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The Matheson/Mathieson Family
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Matheson/Mathieson Crest, Arms, and Motto

Matheson means "Matthew's son." In 1444, a John Mathonson was burgess of Aberdeen. In 1546, Sir Matthyson was rector of Blair. In 1567, George Mathesone was a tenant in the town of Midlyme.

CREST: Issuant from an antique crown Or, a hand brandishing a scimitar fessways, all Proper.

MOTTO: Fac et Spera - Do and Hope

ARMS: Gyronny of eight Sable and Gules, a lion rampant Or, armed and langued azure.

The Matheson/Mathieson Plant Badge is a rose of of four petals Or, barked vert. seeded Gules (Martine). The Matheson Clan is an offshot of the Celtic Earls of Ross (Martine, 171).

The supporters were roses of four petals with two bears proper each gorged with an antique crown or.

The arms: Gyronny of eight sables (black) and gules (red), a lion rampant or, armed and langued azure (blue).

Mathieson - Scotland. a cock, gules.....

Matthison - Scotland. a demi-lion, ppr (between paws) a cross crosslet, gules.

The Matheson/Mathieson Name

The Mathesons of the North were known as M'Mhathain in Gaelic. In Norse sagas, he was known as Kjarmak, son of Makamal - Cormac MacMdthan. Matheson/Mathieson may also come from Mic Mhathghamhuin meaning "son of the bear.". The clan chiefs carry two bears as supporters. (Way, 270).

Matheson/Mathieson is a lowland version of Matthews. MacMatha/MacMath in Gaelic. Mathieson was the connection to the Danes or Norwegians (Smith). The Mathesons were originally the vassals of the earls of Ross, and later became supporters of the Lords of the Isles.


The Mathesons settled around Lochalsh, Lochcarrone, and Kintail, and were granted lands by the Celtic Earls of Ross. John Matheson of Attadale's grandson John sold his highland estate. He married Margaret, his cousin. Their branch of the family settled in Sutherland. The Mathesons were bailles to the Earls of Sutherland in the late fifteenth century. John and Margaret's son, Alexander Matheson, with his uncle James Matheson engaged in Indian and Chinese trade. Alexander purchased the Barony of Lochalsh in 1851. Before this he bought Ardintoul abd Inverinate (ancient clan lands).

James Matheson (1796-1878) and William Jardine (1784-1843) formed an opium trading business called Jardine and Matheson. They even published newsletters called Opium Circulars, which gave information about various opium markets and their current prices.

David Matheson, a younger family member resigned from the family business rather than profit from the drug trade, since opium destroyed many lives. Matheson's nephew, Hugh Matheson, used his profits in the mining industry. His company, Rio Tinto Zinc Company, still exists today.

James Matheson's mother's family, the McKays, held the title of Earl of Inchcape. The McKays conrolled the board of steamer lines. The first opium clipper ships, were called the Alexander Baring and the Falcon.

Drug Facts:

  • Opium came to the Americas via Laudanum, a mixture of opium, wine, saffron, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Paragoric was a misture of licorice, honey, benzoic acid, camphor, anise oil, and opium.
  • During the Crusades, the Assassins of Islam used the drug hashish to experience the pleasures of heaven. The Saracens thought it gave them strength to die, for their faith.
  • Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was surgeon general of the Continental army. He used opium to ease his wounded men's pain.
  • Heroin, a derivative of opium was used as well, for pain.
  • The downside was that opium based drugs could not be used for more than 4 days without maling the patient an addict. Being an opium addict made you desire only opium and nothing else. It would basically ruin your life.

William Jardine was born on a farm near Lochmaben in Dumfrieshire. His father was named Andrew Jardine. Jardine studied medicine at Edinburgh University and received his diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1802. He was ship's surgeon on the Brunwick, an East Indain Company vessel. By 1817, Jardin gave up medicine and made many trips between Bombay, India, and Canton, China. His ship Sarah was co-owned with Matheson. By the 1820's, Jardine lived in Canton, China, as an opium agent.

Nicholas James Sutherland Matheson was born in Lairg, Sutherlandshire. He was the son of Captain Donald Matheson and Katherine McKay. His grandfather McKay was a parish minister. Matheson went to Edinburgh's Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh. James Matheson was a London merchant before his 1815 trip to Calcutta, India. In 1832, James Matheson and William Jardine founded Jardine, Matheson & Company of Canton, China. Their company emblem was Scotland's St. Andrews Cross with the flag colors reversed.

Jardin died unmarried in 1843. In 1848, James Matheson renamed their London company to "Matheson & Company." Matheson assumed his partner Jardine's seat in Parliament. James Matheson then decided to buy up land with his business profits. He bought the Isle of Lewis and other estates. He married Mary Jane Percival, a Canadian. They never had any children.

  • 1846 - Matheson was made a member of the Royal Society.
  • 1866 he was both Lord Lieutenant and Sheriff Principal in County Ross.
  • he was knighted and died in France at age 90 (in 1878). The chiefship passed to his nephew, and later on, to his cousin, Heylan Matheson. Heylan's son Colonel Bertram Matheson of that Ilk was confirmed in the chiefship as Lord Lyon in 1963.



Barbara Mathieson was christened on October 5, 1695 in Ceres, Brigend, Fifeshire, Scotland. She married John Malcolm on October 13, 1694 in Ceres, Fifeshire, Scotland. John Malcolm, the first born son, was christened on September 1695 in Ceres, and was the son of Robert Malcombe and Margaret Kidd



Black, George F. Surnames of Scotland. New York: The New York Public Library, 1999.

Bruce, Duncan A. The Scottish 100. Mew York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 2000

Fairbairn, James. Fairbairn's Crests of Great Britain and Ireland. New York: Bonanza Books, 1986.

Martine, Roddy. Scottish Clans and Family Names. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1986.

Smith, Elsdon C. New Ditionary of American Family Names. Gramercy Publishing Company, 1988.

Way, George and Romilly Squire. Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1998.

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