Davidson Surname Genealogy
Davidson is Anglo-Scottish, a patronym of the Hebrew name David meaning
“beloved of Jehovah.” The name became
popular among Christians throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The two spellings of Davidson and Davison were
both to be found in northern England, mainly
in the counties bordering onto Scotland. Davidson in America may also have
Scandinavian (from Davidsson or Davidsen) or Jewish origins.
Davidson Resources on
- Davidson French Website
Davidsons in Bordeaux.
- Davidson/Davison/Davisson Research
Early US Davidson lines.
- Davisons from Tandragee in Northern Ireland
Davisons from Ireland to Canada.
- James and Sarah Davidson
Davidsons from Ireland to Canada.
- Davidson Family Archives
Davidsons from Northumberland to Tasmania.
- The Davidson Chronicles
Aleaxander Walker Davidson and the Eden Whalers in Australia.
- Davidson DNA Project
Scotland. The Davidson name is
to be found in the Scottish
Highlands, but also in the Lowlands and Border areas.
Highlands. There have been different
accounts as to the Davidson
origins. As clan Dhai they were
associated with the
Chattan confederation and the proscribed Comyns around Badenoch. David Dubh of Invernhaven was the first known
bearer of the name. However, in the
Battle of North Inch against the Cameronsat Perth in 1396, these
the thirty warriors from each side selected to fight in single combat
Davidson survived – by climbing the enclosure and swimming the river
The Davidsons dispersed and were never
again to reassemble as a proper clan.
One early Davidson sighting elsewhere was
Sir Robert Davidson, a collector and distributor of royal dues in
Aberdeen. He led a contingent to fight
at the Battle of Harlow in 1411 where he was killed.
The Davidsons were also associated from the
early 16th century with the estate of Davidston on the Black Isle in
Cromarty. Popular tradition has had the
Davidsons of Davidston linked with the later Davidsons of Tulloch
Davidsons were in place at Tulloch in Ross-shire from 1762 until 1917. It was Duncan Davidson who established the
family fortunes as a West India merchant in London.
His son Henry was in possession of eight
sugar plantations in the Caribbean by the time of his death in 1826.
his will of 1826, Henry Davidson left to his sons
four Jamaican plantations, the plantation of Mount Gay in Grenada, that
Highbury in Berbice, and that of L’Esperance in Surinam.
To his grandson he left in trust the
plantation of Mount Craven in Grenada.”
number of Davidsons today are in Aberdeenshire. The Davidson
family at Tarland
on Deeside was long-standing and extended in the 18th and 19th
homes at Tillychetly, Dess and Inchmarlo. The Davidson connection with
went back to the early 1600’s when Alexander Davidson began
there. The Davidson name appeared
frequently there later as merchants, seamen, and fishermen.
Elsewhere. There was evidence of a
grouping on the Scottish borders in the 16th century.
They were to be found at Oxnam in
Roxburghshire, just across the border from Northumberland.
And the Davidson name was also at that time
in Midlothian and Ayrshire. These
Davidsons were probably not related to the Highland Davidsons.
England. The Davidson name extended
across the border
into northern England where the name was either Davidson or, in
and Durham, more likely to be Davison. An
early Davison was William Davison, secretary to Queen Elizabeth, who
for the 1587 execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.
It was said that “his grandfather was out of the North.”
Among the later Davisons/Davidsons
of the north were:
Davison from Carlisle in Cumberland
who came to London in the 1730’s and became one of the city’s leading
grocers. It was his tea that was dumped in
during the Boston Tea Party.
- Alexander Davison from Lanton in
Northumberland who was a contemporary and close friend of Admiral
Nelson. His business rise and fall was
Davidson who was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1839 and
resided at Ridley Hall on Bardon Hill.
Thomas Davidson was a Victorian
poet of the Scottish borders, born to parents from Northumberland.
Ireland. The Davison spelling has predominated in
Ireland. Most were of Scottish origin
and had settled in Ulster. A number of
them emigrated to America in the 18th century.
One line of Davisons dates from the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 after
which they were granted lands at Tandragee in county Antrim. Four generations of this family were
prominent in the linen industry
Tandragee during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Irish from the Donegal sept of Mac
Duibheid adopted the name of Davison in Donegal and in neighboring
America. The Davidsons in
America are mainly Scots or Scots Irish.
Most emigrated there, a few were forcibly taken there.
latter category was David Davisson, a Scottish soldier captured in 1651
sent to the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a prisoner of war in 1651. He made his home in Wenham, Essex county. His descendants later moved to New Jersey and
Virginia and then to various points west and south.
Robert Davidson came to Pennsylvania from Scotland
on the Deliverance of Glasgow in
1729. He died eight years later. His widow and children uprooted themselves
and resettled in Rowan county, North Carolina.
These Davidsons established their Rural Hill Farm in nearby
county in 1788 and became a prominent family of the plantation
Scots Irish in America
included two brothers, John and George Davidson, who arrived around
later settled in Iredell county, North Carolina:
was the father of Major
William Davidson, Revolutionary soldier who subsequently made his home
George was the father of General William Lee Davidson who died in
the war in 1781. The General is
commemorated in North Carolina by Davidson College, the town of
to Virginia from Ulster in the 1730’s.
His son George fought in the Revolutionary War and later moved
family from Virginia to Kentucky
settled in Lincoln county.
A much later emigration involved Alexander Davidson
who departed with his family from Angus in Scotland in 1857, settling
Milwaukee. His grandsons Arthur, Walter
and William were three of the four founders of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company
Other Davidsons. Some Davidsons in
America came from Scandinavia,
others were Jewish:
Ole Davidson, for instance, arrived in America from
Norway in 1872. He succeeded Robert La
Follette as Wisconsin’s Governor in 1906.
Gustav Davidson fled with his
parents from the Jewish pogrom in Poland and arrived in New York in
1907. He made his mark there as a poet,
Canada. Many of
the early Davidson settlers in Ontario were Scots Irish.
Samuel Davidson came with
his family from county Down in 1825 and was one of the first settlers
Mariposa township in the Kawartha Lakes region.
He subsequently served on the town council.
George and Rachel Davison arrived from
county Antrim in 1826. They settled in
Augusta township where George built himself a log cabin on the family
farmed. Their descendants have been
The 1840’s arrivals included Samuel Davidson who made his home at
Listowel in Perth county. James and
Sarah Davidson from county Antrim came to Westmeath township in 1845. This family suffered from a number of
son Robert, born on
the crossing to Canada, was born blind and was known as “Blind Bob.”
himself died in 1861 at the age of 36 after a team of horses ran out of
control. He subsequently died of blood
his other son James lost his left arm in a horse-powered
threshing machine and had to be fitted with a hook. James Davidson,
would continue to take his threshing machine around at harvest time and
popular member of the community.
early Davidsons in Australia were more Scottish than Scots Irish or
Walter Davidson from Inchmarlo
in Aberdeenshire arrived in Sydney in 1805.
Well-connected, he was granted large land holdings in the NSW
colony. Although he departed Australia
four years later, he retained his interest in his property which
a large sheep farm.
was a carpenter from Aberdeen who came to Sydney with his employer Ben
Scottish entrepreneur, in 1842. Boyd
launched numerous enterprises, all of which failed, and left the region. Davidson stayed on and built Kish House on
Kish Inlet, using salvaged timber from the shipwrecked Lawrence
Frost. In the
1860’s he started a whaling operation on Twofold Bay.
This continued with his grandson “Fearless”
George Davidson until 1930.
Davidson, a blacksmith from St. Andrews in Fife, came with his family
in 1854. They were among the early
settlers of the New England or North Tablelands area of NSW.
Two descendants of the Davidsons of Tulloch
in Ross-shire also made their way south:
Ewen Davidson came to Australia in 1865 and was a sugar planter in
Hector Davidson, son of the fourth Davidson of Tulloch,
departed for New Zealand in 1885 to breed sheep.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
the senior partner of Davison, Newman and Co, one of the leading
grocers in 18th
Arthur Davidson co-founded with William
Harley the Harley-Davidson Motor Cycle Company in Milwaukee in 1903.
Randall Davidson was an Anglican bishop of Scottish origin
served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1903 to 1928.
Alan Davidson was an
Australian cricket all-rounder of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
- 67,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 42,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 44,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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