Show ContentsBeatson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The west coast of Scotland and the rocky Hebrides islands are the ancient home of the Beatson family. The root of their name is the names of Macbeth and Bethune, or Beaton. The Macbeth and Bethune families, who were hereditary physicians to the Chiefs of Macdonald, practiced medicine on the Isles during the Middle Ages and their names merged in English into the one surname of Beaton. The Macbeths were concentrated in Islay and Mull, whereas the Beatons were concentrated in Skye.

However, the Beaton family was not restricted to the Isles and it later branched to other counties such as Fraser. Nonetheless, by the 17th century, the Beaton family "ceased to practice the healing art" and the last of the hereditary physicians was Niel Beaton who practiced medicine in about 1763. [1]

One source notes the Norman source of the family. "They claim descent from the house of Bethune, Barons of Bethune in Artois, Advocates or Protectors of Arras. This family was descended from the Carlovingian Counts of Artois, and ranked amongst the most potent and illustrious houses in Europe. The great Duke of Sully was one of its descendants. The Advocates of Arras possessed a barony in England from the Conquest, and left numerous descendants here. From the line of St. Omer, a branch of the same house, descended the Bagots, and Staffords, Duke of Buckingham in England, and many branches bearing the names of St. Omer and Arras." [2]

Early Origins of the Beatson family

The surname Beatson was first found in the Isle of Islay, where the first of the Islay family on record is Fercos Macbetha, who witnessed and probably wrote the Gaelic charter of 1408. Gilchristus M'Veig, surrigicus or surgeon in Islay is in record. Fergus M'Baithe in 1609 received from James VI certain lands in Islay in his official capacity as "principalis medici intra bordas Insularum," chief physician within the bounds of the Isles. His son, John Macbeath, succeeds in 1628 to the lands, but gave them over to the Thane of Cawdor in following year. The words "Leabar Giolla Colaim Meigbethadh" (book of Malcolm Macbeth) axe written on one of the Gaelic manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland, glossed in the same hand "Liber Malcolml Betune"

The Mull Beatons or Betons were hereditary physicians to the Macleans of Dowart. In 1572 Hector MacLaine of Dowart granted a charter to Andrew MacDonil Vikinollif (i.e. son of the doctor) and his heirs of the peuyland of Piencross and Brolas for his skill in the medical art. Martin says that Dr. Beaton was sitting on the upper deck of the "Florida" of the Spanish Armada when it blew up in Tobermory Bay in 1588 and he was thrown a good way off, but lived several years after. [1]

In England, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Johannes Beton; Beton de Wath; and Beton, servant of Robert, filius Ade. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had only one listing, that of John Betun, Oxfordshire. [3]

John Betoun was listed in Colchester in 1311 and Richard Beton was found in the Subsidy Rolls of Derbyshire in 1327. Interestingly, the name is "still used as a Christian name in Cornwall in 1630." [4]

Early History of the Beatson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Beatson research. Another 347 words (25 lines of text) covering the years 1473, 1494, 1519, 1539, 1543, 1546, 1558, 1569, 1589, 1598, 1600, 1622, 1763 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Beatson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Beatson Spelling Variations

Spelling variations were extremely common in medieval names, since scribes from that era recorded names according to sound rather than a standard set of rules. Beatson has appeared in various documents spelled Beaton, Beeton, MacBeth, MacBeaton, McBee, MacBee and others.

Early Notables of the Beatson family

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Janet Beaton, Lady of Branxholme and Buccleugh (1519-1569) an aristocratic Scottish woman, mistress of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, had five husbands and was accused of being a witch, immortalized as Sir Walter Scott's Wizard Lady of Branxholm in his "Lay...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Beatson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Beatson family to Ireland

Some of the Beatson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Beatson migration to the United States +

Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Beatson or a variant listed above:

Beatson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Susanna Beatson, aged 19, who landed in Virginia in 1683 [5]
Beatson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Beatson, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844 [5]
  • Mrs. Beatson, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [5]

Australia Beatson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Beatson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Beatson, (b. 1758), aged 45, English labourer who was convicted in Derby, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. David Beatson, Jr., Scottish convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Competitor"18th March 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Mr. William Beatson, Scottish convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Competitor"18th March 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Beatson (post 1700) +

  • Walter W. G. Beatson, American politician, U.S. Consular Agent in Bassein, 1884 [8]
  • Alexander Beatson (1759-1833), Scottish lieutenant-general in the East India Company's service, Governor of St. Helena, and experimental agriculturist, the second son of Robert Beatson, Esq., of Kilrie, co. Fife [9]
  • George Steward Beatson (d. 1874), Scottish surgeon-general
  • Patrick Beatson (1758-1800), Scottish born mariner
  • Robert Beatson (1742-1818), Scottish compiler and miscellaneous writer
  • Benjamin Wrigglesworth Beatson (1803-1874), English classical scholar, educated first at Merchant Taylors' School, and afterwards at Pembroke College, Cambridge
  • Colonel Sir George Thomas Beatson (1848-1933), British physician, a pioneer in the field of oncology, developing a new treatment for breast cancer, and has been called "the father of endocrine ablation in cancer management"
  • David Beatson (1944-2017), New Zealand journalist, media analyst and broadcast presenter, Chief Press Secretary to New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger
  • The Hon Mr Justice Beatson (b. 1948), has been a British judge in the Queen's Bench Division in the High Court

The Beatson Motto +

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: Debonnaire
Motto Translation: Graceful

  1. 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)
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th March 2021). Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from
  9. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 6 June 2019 on Facebook