The Clan Fergusson

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The origin of the name Fergusson or Ferguson, "son of Fergus" (MacFhearguis in Gaelic), is shrouded by the mists of time. Medieval historians recorded a tradition that the founder of Scotland's monarchy was a Fergus who lived in Ireland about 300 B.C. Historical research dating from the 13th century confirms that by 500 A.D. the Scots under King Fergus Mor had left Northern Ireland and became established in Dalriada, now Argyll. From Fergus Mor, with a few early exceptions, descend all subsequent kings and queens of the Scots, including the present Queen of Great Britain. St. Columba of Iona (6th century A.D.) was a scion of Fergus Mor's royal line.

In one of the oldest documents of ancient Scottish history, the "Tract on the Men of Albyn", Fergusson is the only modern clan name mentioned. Some writers believe the Fergussons had their day as a powerful clan prior to the 13th century and became dispersed from Argyll (Dalriada) as the Scots spread into other parts of Scotland. Before the 18th century, at least five groups of Fergussons possessed lands and lived in the style of a clan under their respective chiefs in Argyll, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Dumfriesshire, and Ayrshire. Today, the Kilkerran Fergussons in Ayreshire and the family of Fergusson of Baledmund and the Fergussons of Balquhidder, both in Perthshire, are still owners of extensive lands.

The name is also common in Ulster where there have been several landed families, some claiming to have been planted there from Ayrshire in the 17th century. Others of the name in Antrim and nearby counties descend from people who did not migrate to Dalriada in the 5th century.

The dispersed Clan Fergusson has not blazed the battlefield with glories won by the sword. However, "Sons of Fergus" fought with Bruce in the Wars of Independence. Some Perthshire Fergussons were out with Montrose in 1644. The oldest soldier in Prince Charles Edward's Army at Prestonpans in the '45 was an 80-year-old Ferguson. In modern times and during World Wars I and II many Fergus(s)ons from Scotland and abroad were distinguished military leaders. Clan Fergusson has been termed a "gentle froce" that gained respected prominence from live and let live. Recently, however, a clansman, after looking at McIan's depiction of "The Fergusson" as a barefooted, Claymore-wielding, helmeted warrior wearing the ancient Lein-croich, or saffron colored shirt of the Celts, remarked that "if Clan Fergusson is a "gentle force" he was glad the warrior was one of us and not a foeman!"

"Sons of Fergus" the world over have gained distinction in nonmilitary activities, e.g. in the law, the church, government, the arts and sciences, medicine, education, agriculture and in business and industry. Mention can only be made of Adam Ferguson the philosopher (1724-1816) and Robert Fergusson (1750-1774) the poet and mentor of Robert Burns. And in the realm of romance, the heroine of the song "Annie Laurie" was married to Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch.

In the 18th century the head of the Kilkerran family came gradually to be regarded as the chief of all the Fergus(s)ons. This family has produced notable statesmen, military leaders, lawyers, writers and agricultural improvers. The present Chief is Sir Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran, 9th Baronet, who lives in the ancestral home near Maybole, Ayrshire.


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