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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

On the western coast of Scotland and on the Hebrides islands the Donaldson family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from a powerful ruler. The name Donald is derived from the Gaelic name Domhnull, or MacDhomhnuill, and the Celtic name Dubnovalos, all of which mean "world ruler" or "world-mighty". The name ranks second only to John in its popularity as a personal name in Scotland.


In various documents Donaldson has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. Donald, Donaldson, Doneld, Donnald, Donnaldson and others.

First found in Galloway (Gaelic: Gall-ghaidhealaibh), an area of southwestern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Dumfries and Galloway, that formerly consisted of the counties of Wigtown (West Galloway) and Kirkcudbright (East Galloway), where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donaldson research. Another 302 words(22 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donaldson History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Donaldson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Donaldson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 189 words(14 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Dalriadan families proliferated in North America. Their descendants still populate many communities in the eastern parts of both the United States and Canada. Some settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists, in the wake of the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border have recovered much of their heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and highland games. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Donaldson or a variant listed above:

Donaldson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Walter Donaldson, who arrived in New Jersey in 1685

Donaldson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Donaldson, who arrived in Maryland in 1716
  • Charles Donaldson settled in Maryland in 1716 along with Hugh, James, Jane, John, Mary, Peter, and Thomas
  • Charles Donaldson, who landed in Maryland in 1716
  • Robert Donaldson, who landed in Georgia in 1765
  • Marrion Donaldson, aged 42, landed in New York in 1775

Donaldson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Colin Donaldson, who arrived in Jamaica in 1801
  • Richard Donaldson, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Beli Donaldson, aged 36, arrived in Delaware in 1803
  • Robt_ Donaldson, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Jane Donaldson, aged 6, landed in New York, NY in 1806

Donaldson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Andrew Donaldson, who arrived in Canada in 1815
  • David Donaldson, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • JUrnes Donaldson, who arrived in Canada in 1815
  • Thos Donaldson, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • Dun. Donaldson, aged 21, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Favourite" in 1815

Donaldson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Matthew Donaldson, Scottish convict from Perth, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Catherine Donaldson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Helen Thompson" in 1840
  • James Donaldson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Helen Thompson" in 1840
  • Jane Donaldson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1848
  • Thomas Donaldson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Royal Archer" in 1848

Donaldson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Robert Donaldson landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Margaret Donaldson arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Jane" in 1841
  • Robert Donaldson, aged 21, a farmer, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • James Donaldson, aged 34, a ploughman, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eveline" in 1865
  • Catherine Donaldson, aged 33, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eveline" in 1865


  • Walter Donaldson (1893-1947), American composer
  • Sergeant Michael A. Donaldson (1884-1970), United States Army soldier awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Brigadier-General William Henry Jr. Donaldson (1894-1948), American Commanding Officer Seattle Port of Embarkation (1947-1948)
  • Professor Gordon Donaldson (1913-1993), Scottish historian
  • James Donaldson (1751-1830), Scottish newspaper proprietor
  • Sir James Donaldson (1831-1915), Scottish educational administrator
  • Walter Donaldson (1907-1973), Scottish professional snooker player
  • Simon Kirwan Donaldson FRS (b. 1957), English mathematician awarded a Fields Medal in 1986 and the Abel Prize in 2008
  • Stuart Donaldson (1812-1867), first Premier of the Colony of New South Wales
  • Roger Donaldson (b. 1945), Australian-born New Zealand film producer, director and writer



  • Donaldson [Genealogical Notes on the Donaldson Family and Its Maternal Lines, Mcfarland, Winchester, Johnston and Dorsey] by John Wilcox Donaldson.

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: Per mare, per terras
Motto Translation: By sea, by land.


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  1. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  2. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  3. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  5. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  6. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  7. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  8. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  9. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  10. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  11. ...

The Donaldson Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Donaldson 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 9 February 2015 at 12:24.

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