Mathison History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Mathison family history stretches back to the clans of the Dalriadan kingdom on the sea-swept Hebrides islands and mountainous western coast of Scotland. The name Mathison is derived from the son of Matthew. [1] 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. [2] [3]

Today, early legal records provide a plethora of information about the family with various early spellings. Some of the first records include, "Robertus filius Mathei [who] witnessed a charter by Walter filius Alani, a. 1177. John Mathyson and Michael Mathowson were outlawed as part guilty of the slaughter of Walter de Ogilvy, Sheriff of Angus, in 1392." [3]

Early Origins of the Mathison family

The surname Mathison 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. "In the Norse Saga he is called Kjarmak son of Makamal = Corniac Macmathan. The Siol Mhathain, a sept of Matheson, in an old Gaelic song appears as Siol Mhothan. Matheson has been adopted as the English form of the name simply on account of the similarity of sound." [3]

Early History of the Mathison family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Mathison research. Another 418 words (30 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 Mathison History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Mathison Spelling Variations

Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents Mathison has been spelled Mathieson, MacMaghan, MacMathan MacMaken, Mathie, Mann and many more.

Early Notables of the Mathison family (pre 1700)

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 family proceeded to buy the former Clan territories: James Matheson...
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Mathison Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Mathison Ranking

In the United States, the name Mathison is the 5,334th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Mathison family to Ireland

Some of the Mathison family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Mathison migration to the United States +

Settlers from Scotland put down roots in communities all along the east coast of North America. Some moved north from the American colonies to Canada as United Empire Loyalists during the American War of Independence. As Clan societies and highland games started in North America in the 20th century many Scots rediscovered parts of their heritage. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Mathison were among those contributors:

Mathison Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Henry Mathison, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1740 [5]
  • Jannet Mathison, aged 11, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1774-1775 [5]
Mathison Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Mathison, who arrived in Mississippi in 1832 [5]

New Zealand Mathison migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Mathison Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Gordon Mathison, (b. 1841), aged 33, Scottish labourer, from Sutherland travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [6]
  • Mrs. Dorothy Mathison, (b. 1847), aged 27, Scottish settler, from Sutherland travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [6]
  • Mr. John Mathison, (b. 1865), aged 9, Scottish settler, from Sutherland travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [6]
  • Mr. Gilbert Mathison, (b. 1867), aged 7, Scottish settler, from Sutherland travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [6]
  • Mr. Gordon Mathison, (b. 1869), aged 5, Scottish settler, from Sutherland travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874, he died on board 26th October 1874 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Mathison (post 1700) +

  • Melissa Marie Mathison (1950-2015), American Academy Award nominated film and television screenwriter, best known for her work on The Black Stallion (1979) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • James "Jimmy" Michael Ignatius Mathison (1878-1911), American professional baseball player
  • Volney G. Mathison, American chiropractor, writer, and inventor of the E-meter
  • Bruce Martin Mathison (b. 1959), former American football quarterback
  • Lisa Mathison (b. 1985), Australian professional cyclist from Brisbane
  • John Mathison (1901-1982), New Zealand politician
  • Captain Gordon Clunes Mackay Mathison (1883-1915), Australian physician, medical researcher, and soldier
  • James Mathison (b. 1978), Australian television presenter
  • Cameron Arthur Mathison (b. 1969), Canadian actor and television host
  • Henry Mathison Pelling (1920-1997), British historian

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Charles Harris Mathison, American Seaman First Class from Wisconsin, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [7]


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


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. 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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  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. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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