History of the clan

Before the 18th century, at least five groups of Fergusons possessed lands and lived in the style of a clan under their respective chiefs in Argyll, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Galloway, and Carrick. Today, the Kilkerran Fergusons in Ayrshire and the family of Ferguson of Baledmund and the Fergusons of Balquhidder, both in Perthshire, are still owners of extensive lands.

Fergussons from both Galloway and Carrick alike claim descent from Fergus of Galloway. The grandfather of Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick and in turn great-great-grandfather to Robert Bruce, Fergus, restored the see of Whithorn and founded Dundrennan Abbey during the reign of David I and Malcolm IV. He died as a monk at Holyrood in 1161. Through Robert Bruce passes the line of the Royal Family of Britain. It was the 1st Earl of Carrick’s signature that might suggest the origins of the Fergusson surname, Duncan, son of Gilbert, the son of Fergus, hence MacFhearguis.

It is known with certainty that by the 13th century there were men in widely separated districts of Scotland which called themselves “sons of Fergus”. It is recorded in the Annals of Ulster there was in 1216 a day of disaster to the Cenel-Ferghusa at the hand of the Mormaer of Lennox’s son, Muireadhach. Through the passing of the ages however the particulars of the story have been lost.

Robert I of Scotland granted certain lands in Ayrshire to Fergus MacFergus, and in 1466 John Ferguson resigned a portion of his estate to Fergus Ferguson (of Kilkerran), his son, and Janet Kennedy, his wife. From this line stems Sir Charles Fergusson, 9th Baronet, and Baron of Kilkerran who holds the undifferenced arms as Chief of the Name.

The name is also common in Ulster where there have been several landed families, some claiming to have been planted there from Ayrshire in the 17th century. Others of the name in Antrim and nearby counties descend from people who did not migrate to Dalriada in the 5th century.

The Anglicised “Fergusson” was widely used by the reign of James IV. The shortened form of the name with the single “s” was initiated by record clerks before the 1600s. The common spelling of the day was “Fergussoun” and by the reign of Charles II, “Fergussone”.



17th century & Civil War

The dispersed Clan Fergusson has not blazed the battlefield with glories won by the sword. However, “Sons of Fergus” fought with Clan Bruce in the Scottish Civil War and the English Civil War. Some Perthshire Fergusons fought alongside James Graham the 1st Marquess of Montrose in 1644.



18th century & Jacobite Uprisings

The oldest soldier in Prince Charles Edward’s Army at the Battle of Prestonpans in the ‘45 was an 80-year-old Ferguson.

In the 18th century the head of the Kilkerran family came gradually to be regarded as the chief of all the Fergus(s)ons. This family has produced notable statesmen, military leaders, lawyers, writers and agricultural improvers. The present Chief is Sir Charles Ferguson of Kilkerran, 9th Baronet, who lives in the ancestral home near Maybole, Ayrshire.



World wars

In modern times and during World Wars I and II many Fergus(s)ons from Scotland and abroad were distinguished military leaders. Clan Ferguson has been termed a “gentle force” that gained respected prominence from live and let live. Recently, however, a clansman, after looking at McIan’s depiction of “The Ferguson” as a barefooted, Claymore-wielding, helmeted warrior wearing the ancient Lein-croich, or saffron colored shirt of the Celts, remarked that “if Clan Ferguson is a “gentle force” he was glad the warrior was one of us and not a foeman!”



Clan Fergusson today

“Sons of Fergus” the world over have gained distinction in nonmilitary activities, e.g. in the law, the church, government, the arts and sciences, medicine, education, agriculture and in business and industry. Mention can only be made of Adam Ferguson the philosopher (1724-1816) and Robert Fergusson (1750-1774) the poet and mentor of Robert Burns. And in the realm of romance, the heroine of the song Annie Laurie was married to Alexander Ferguson of Craigdarroch.

In the modern era the peers of Ayrshire, Dumfries, Argyll, and Perthshire families have retained the double ’s’ while those of Fife, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Ireland have the single “Ferguson”.



Clan septs

Ferguson and Fergusson are the two most common renderings of the name found through out the world. However the following names are also included as septs of the Clan Fergusson; Forgan, Fergie, Fergus, Fergushill, Fergussill, Farries, Ferrie, Ferries, Ferris(s), Forgie, Furgerson, Grevsack, Hardie, Hardy, Kiddie, Kydd, Keddie, Keddle, Ketchen, Kidd, MacTavert MacHerries. The Gaelic name has been rendered through translation into the forms, MacFergus, MacFerries, and MacFerris. Since the ‘f’ and ‘g’ are silent in the old language such variations as MacAdie, MacCade, MacErries, MacHerries, MacKerras (especially common in Argyll and Australia), MacKersey, MacKestan, MacFhearghuis, MacMagnus and even MacIrish, MacInlay were formed.



Clan profile

      Clan Chief: Sir Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran, 9th BT, Chief of the Name and Arms of Fergusson.

      Clan Chief’s Arms: A buckle Argent between three boars’ heads couped.

      Badge: A bee on a thistle, all Proper.

      Motto: Dulcius ex asperis (Sweeter after difficulties).

      Gaelic Name: MacFhearghuis.

      War Cry: Clannfhearghuis gu brath!

      Tartans: Fergusson (of Atholl), Fergusson of Balquhidder, Ferguson Dress.

      Septs: Fergie, Fergus, Ferguson, Furgerson, Ferries, Firgie, Keddie, Kiddie,

      MacAdie, MacFergus, MacKeddie, Mackerras, MacKersey.

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