On the western coast of Scotland
and on the Hebrides
islands the Anderson family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the given name Andrew. The given name Andrew is derived from the Greek name Andreas, which means man or manly. The name Anderson is one of the Highland families whose legendary spirit and valiance is a match for any. From the bleak, sea-swept Hebridean Islands and the stormy western coast, this surname has emerged as one of the great families whose history is romanticized by the skirl of the bagpipes, the broadsword, the swinging kilt and the highland games.
Historical researchers, using some of the oldest manuscripts including Clan genealogies, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Ragman Rolls, the Inquisitio, parish cartularies, baptismal records, and tax records found the name Anderson in the Great Glen and Strathspey, where they were seated from ancient times.
The name, Anderson, occurred in many manuscripts, and was also spelled Anderson, Andison, Andersonne, Andersoun, Andirsoone, Andresoun, Androson, Andirston, Andrewson, Mac Ghille Aindrais (Gaelic) and these changes in spelling could occur often, even between father and son.
The surname Anderson is believed to be of Dalriadan origin, a tribe that invaded Scotland, along with other Scoti tribes from northern Ireland. The genealogy of present day clans and individual descendents of the Dalriadans, can be sometimes be traced back to King Colla da Crioch, who is said to have been banished from Ireland in 327 A.D., along with 350 Clan chiefs. King Fergus Mor MacErc, first king of Dal Riada, defeated the Picts in 498 A.D. Scotland was to some extent united by Kenneth MacAlpin, a Dalriadan who also became king of the Picts in about 839 A.D.
The name Anderson emerged as a Scottish Clan or family in the territory of Angus, they are descended from Mac Ghille Andreis, servant of St. Andrew, Scotland's Patron Saint. They held territories in Moidart, but later moved to Badenoch in 1300, as recorded by the great Kinara Manuscript. The great hero of the Clan was Bowman Iain Beg Anderson. The Clan tartan sett includes grey, green, red, yellow and white. For those interested in further research, we would recommend "The Andersons in Phingask and their Descendants" by J.M.A. Wood, printed in Aberdeen in 1910. Notable amongst the Clan from early times was David and Alexander Anderson of Finshaugh made great contributions in the world of mathematics. James Anderson invented the reflecting telescope.
Once the Monarchy had become firmly established, the Highland Clans still remained detached from Scottish politics for several reasons. The Clans were closely knit groups related by blood, and intensely loyal to their customs and families. Under the clan system a man's first loyalty was given to his chief and not to a state or a ruler. The Clans were often quite isolated: Parliament at Edinburgh was far south of the Highland line and removed from the daily realities that the clans faced. Many battles were fought against the Scottish Kings who generally had difficulty uniting and controlling the clans no matter who was on the throne.
Many adventurous Scots moved to England, Ireland and the Colonies. For most, it was an economic necessity as the industrial revolution consumed jobs, and landlords tried to free up land to raise sheep. A great number emigrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries where they were granted the lands previously owned by the native Catholic Irish. 175 Andersons were transferred to Northern Ireland, 120 of them settling in the counties of Antrim and Down.
Scots risked the difficult journey to the New World, crossing the Atlantic on ships that sometimes arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, the rest dying at sea from a disease, malnutrition and the elements. In North America, the Highlanders settled in the New England states, the Carolinas, Nova Scotia and the Ottawa Valley. Early immigrants who could be considered kinsman of the name Anderson include Thomas Anderson who settled in Virginia in 1634; also settling in Virginia were, Joseph 1635; Richard in 1635; and the family also arrived at Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, and California. In Newfoundland John and William Anderson settled originally in St.Pierre in 1763, but suffered losses in trading and moved to Newfoundland. John was a Cooper of Petty Harbour in 1767. Richard settled in Trinity Bay 1775. James settled in St. John's at the turn of the 19th century. Presently the family name is scattered on the south and west coasts. There is an Anderson Island, Anderson Lookout, Anderson Cove and Anderson Pond. Several individuals with this name are registered as United Empire Loyalists, including Captain Samuel Anderson and his 6 sons.
In recent history there have been many prominent people of the name Anderson and among them were: General Sir Richard Anderson; Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, Australia; Professor John Anderson, Pathologist; General Sir John Anderson, Ulster; Sir Norman Anderson; Maxwell Anderson, American playwright; Robert Woodruff Anderson, American Playwright and novelist; Sherwood Anderson, American short-story writer.
The most ancient Coat of Arms attributed to a bearer of this name was:
Silver with a black cross.
The Crest was:
An oak tree.
The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name was: