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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.

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The surname Matheson was 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.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Matheson research. Another 835 words (60 lines of text) covering the years 1263, 1400, 1411, 1427, 1498, 1514, 1427, 1600, 1539, 1570, 1631, 1688, 1715, 1719, 1820, 1851, 1683, 1796, 1878, 1851 and 1963 are included under the topic Early Matheson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Margaret Matson, one of two women tried in Philadelphia for witchcraft in 1683; Sir James Nicolas Sutherland Matheson (1796-1878), born in Shiness, Lairg, who made a great fortune in the opium trade, and was created the 1st Baronet of Lewis in 1851. His...

Another 70 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Matheson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Some of the Matheson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 49 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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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 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
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Matheson Settlers in 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
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Matheson Settlers in 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

Matheson Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Charles Matheson, who came to Nova Scotia in 1773
  • John Matheson, who settled in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773
  • William Matheson, who settled in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773
  • Ann Matheson, who landed in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773
  • Charles Matheson, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1773

Matheson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Dugald Matheson, who settled in Canada in 1809
  • Alexander Matheson, who landed in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813
  • John Matheson, who landed in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813
  • Angus Matheson, aged 30, arrived in Canada in 1815
  • Helen Matheson, aged 21, landed in Canada in 1815
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Matheson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Maxwell Matheson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Competitor" in 1848
  • Henry Matheson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cromwell" in 1849
  • James Matheson, aged 22, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Anglia"
  • John Matheson, aged 23, a ploughman, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Macedon"
  • James Matheson, aged 27, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Shackamaxon"
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Matheson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Norman Matheson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Kenneth Matheson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Flora Matheson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Anne Matheson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Annabella Matheson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
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  • Ivan Mack Matheson (1926-2016), American politician and farmer, Member of the Utah Senate (1977-1988)
  • Roderick Nicol Matheson (1824-1862), American commanding officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War
  • Mac C. Matheson, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Arizona 2nd District, 1960
  • L. Keith Matheson, American Republican politician, Elected New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Center Harbor 1956
  • John Hubbard Matheson (b. 1908), American Republican politician, Rock County District Attorney, 1935-40
  • James David Matheson (b. 1960), American Democrat politician, U.S. Representative from Utah 2nd District, 2001-; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Utah, 2004, 2008
  • J. H. Matheson, American politician, Candidate for Governor of Montana, 1924; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Montana 2nd District, 1932
  • Francis F. Matheson (b. 1863), American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Campbellton, 1908-14
  • Norma Matheson, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Utah, 1996
  • R. Robert Matheson, American politician, Delegate to New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention from Goffstown, 1948
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Matheson Historic Events



Halifax Explosion

  • Mr. John Robert  Matheson (1868-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Albert C.  Matheson (1871-1917), English Warrant Officer aboard the HMCS Niobe from Todmorden, England, United Kingdom who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Clifford Harold  Matheson (1893-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Miss Catherine  Matheson (1916-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMAS Sydney II

  • Mr. Edward Austin John Matheson (1923-1941), Australian Ordinary Seaman from Wentworth Falls, New South Wales, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking
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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.

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Matheson Clan Badge
Matheson Clan Badge

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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...

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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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Citations



    Other References

    1. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
    2. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    3. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
    4. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
    5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
    6. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    7. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
    8. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
    9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. 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 18 February 2016 at 15:52.

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