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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, German, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Matheson family come from? What is the Scottish Matheson family crest and coat of arms? When did the Matheson family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Matheson family history?

Matheson comes from the ancient Dalriadan clans of Scotland's west coast and Hebrides islands. The name comes from the son of Matthew. In Gaelic, the name was spelled M'Mhathain or Mathanach. The latter names in Gaelic were probably derived from Mac Mhathghamhuin which means son of the bear. Indeed, early references of the name have reference to the Scottish bear.


The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages was not a task undertaken with great care. Records from that era show an enormous number of spelling variations, even in names referring to the same person. Over the years Matheson has appeared as Mathieson, MacMaghan, MacMathan MacMaken, Mathie, Mann and many more.

First found in the Scottish Highlands were they could be found in Lochalsh, Lochcarron and Kintail. They are said to descend from Gilleoin of the ancient and royal house of Lorne. They gave their allegiance to the Clan MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles. Kenneth MacMathan (Cormac Mac Mathian) was the constable of Eilean Donan castle and is recorded in most accounts of the invasion of King Haakon IV of Norway against Scotland in the 13th century. One accounts suggests that McMathan and his clansmen fought under the Earl of Ross, defeating Haaken at Largs in 1263. There is a record of Kermac Macmaghan in Inverness, receiving 20 cows from the Earl of Ross in 1264.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Matheson research. Another 553 words(40 lines of text) covering the years 1263, 1400, 1411, 1427, 1498, 1514, 1539, 1570, 1600, 1631, 1688, 1715, 1719, 1796, 1820, 1851, and 1878 are included under the topic Early Matheson History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 107 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Matheson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Matheson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 129 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many of the ancestors of Dalriadan families who arrived in North America still live in communities along the east coast of Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence many of the original settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the ancestors of many Scots began recovering their collective national heritage through Clan societies, highland games, and other patriotic events. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Matheson or a variant listed above:

Matheson Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Alexander Matheson, who arrived in Boston in 1736
  • Farquhar Matheson, who arrived in America in 1774
  • Hugh Matheson, who settled in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1774
  • Hugh and Kathrine Matheson came to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1774
  • Hugh Matheson, aged 32, arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1774

Matheson Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Rodk Matheson, who landed in South Carolina in 1811
  • Duncan Matheson, who landed in Georgia in 1811
  • Murdoch Matheson, aged 22, arrived in Georgia in 1812
  • William Matheson, who arrived in Georgia in 1850
  • Donald Matheson, who arrived in Mississippi in 1892

Matheson Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Alexander Carmichael Matheson, aged 38, who emigrated to the United States from London, England, in 1907
  • Alexander Matheson, aged 44, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1911
  • Alexandrina Matheson, aged 21, who landed in America from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1912
  • Adam George Matheson, aged 22, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1918
  • Aeneas Matheson, aged 19, who landed in America from Lockinvar, Scotland, in 1923


  • Scott Milne Matheson (1929-1990), American politician, 12th Governor of Utah (1977-1985)
  • Max Matheson, American Chemist
  • Timothy Lewis "Tim" Matheson (b. 1947), American actor, director, and producer, best known for his role in the 1978 comedy National Lampoon's Animal House
  • Richard Burton Matheson (1926-2013), American author and screenwriter, probably best known for his work "I am Legend" and his Twilight Zone screenplays, recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • Roderick Nicol Matheson (1824-1862), American commanding officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War
  • Sir James Nicolas Sutherland Matheson (1796-1878), Scottish businessman, opium trader, politician, made 1st Baronet Matheson in 1851
  • Karen Matheson (b. 1963), Scottish folk singer
  • Hans Matheson (b. 1975), Scottish actor
  • Kay Matheson (1929-2013), Scottish nationalist and scholar, participant in the Stone of Scone seizure from Westminster Abbey, Christmas Day 1950
  • John Ross Matheson OC, CD (b. 1917), Canadian lawyer, judge, and politician



The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fac et Spera
Motto Translation: Do and hope.


Matheson Clan Badge
Matheson Clan Badge

Buy JPG Image

A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Matheson
Bairnson, Barne, Berme, Bermeth, Bermey, Bermie, Bermy, Bermye, Berne, Berneth, Bernye, Birney, Birnie, Birny, Birnye, Bramach, Bramack, Bramake, Bramech, Brameck, Bramick, Bramitch, Bramock, Bramox, Bramyck, Bramyke, Branach, Branack, Branake, Branech, Braneck, Branick, Branitch, Brannach, Brannack, Brannake, Brannech, Branneck, Brannick, Brannitch, Brannock, Brannox, Brannyck, Brannyke, Branock, Branox, Branyck, Branyke, Brenach, Brenack and more.


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  1. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  2. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  3. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  6. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  8. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  9. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Matheson Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Matheson Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 8 September 2014 at 21:03.

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