Robertson Surname Genealogy

Robertson is a patronymic name meaning “son of
Robert.” The surname is to be found in the north of England but
particularly popular in Scotland – because of national figures such as
the Bruce.

Robertson Resources on

Scotland. The Robertson clan has laid claim to be the
oldest clan family in Scotland, with descent from the old Celtic kings
and earls
of Atholl. Their base has been Struan in
Perthshire since the early 13th century.
At that time the clan name was de
, but it then took the Gaelic form of Donnachaidh
(descendants of Duncan).

The clan’s first chief was Donnachaidh Reamhair (Stout
Duncan) who, according to tradition, fought for Robert the Bruce in the
Wars of Independence. It was Robert Donnachaidh, the fourth
chief, who
helped capture the assassins of King James I in 1437. He was
rewarded. Around that time most of the clan adopted the
nomenclature of Robertson
after this chief.

The Robertson clan feuded with the Stewart clan of
Atholl and William Robertson of
the sixth chief, was killed in 1516 trying to recover lands he had lost. The eighth chief was then murdered and his
brother inherited the estate

These Robertsons later suffered because of their backing
for the Jacobites.

, known as both a Jacobite chief and a poet,
departed for France in 1690 after having had his estates
confiscated. He
did later return but, following the Jacobite defeat in 1715, took
refuge in
France again. He returned a second time and died in Scotland in
1749 in
his 81st year, the last of his Struan line (the current chief derives
from the
Robertsons of Invervack).

Many Robertsons lost out after the Jacobite defeat in
1745, some being killed at the battlefield, others going into hiding,
others again fleeing to France.
The Robertsons of Lude
managed to
escape the forfeiture of their estates
because the head of their family was at that time still a minor.
William Robertson of this family fought in America and in the
Napoleonic Wars
and was also a friend to Robert Burns.
But he was the last of the line at Lude

Robertsons used
to be found mainly in Perth and Dundee. Today there are more in
around Glasgow and Edinburgh. James
Robertson devised his Golden shred marmalade in Paisley near Glasgow in
1860’s. It proved popular and
Robertson’s Jams resulted.

America. Nicholas Robertson, who was first recorded in
Virginia in the 1680’s, seems to have been the forebear of the Robertson pioneers in Tennessee.

In 1770 James Robertson left his home in
North Carolina and led an expedition beyond the Allegheny mountains
into what
is now east Tennessee. He and his uncle
Charles were leaders of the new government that was formed in the
Watauga settlement
two years later. James later co-founded
what is now the city of Nashville. His
nephew Sterling grew up there and was an early proponent of Texas
colonization. In the 1830’s he founded Robertson’s colony in what
is now
Milam county, Texas.

There were three more notable Robertson families in
Virginia, one of Petersburg and two of Augusta county.

William Robertson of Chesterfield county was
the father
of “Scotch Bill” Robertson, born in 1716, and the forebear of the
Robertsons of
Petersburg, Virginia. Thomas B.
Robertson, born there, moved south to New Orleans to take the post of
Territorial Secretary in 1807. He became
Governor of Louisiana in 1820. Meanwhile
his brother Wyndham was briefly later acting Governor of Virginia.

Another Robertson
line in Virginia began with James and Mary Robertson purchasing land in
county in the 1720’s. Their descendants
to Georgia and Louisiana before returning to Virginia in the late
1800’s. Willis Robertson was a prominent
politician, serving first in the US House of Representatives and then
in the US
Senate in a career from 1933 and 1967.
Although a Democrat, his politics were conservative. His son is the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson.

James and Rebecca
Robertson, Scots Irish from Coleraine, came to Augusta county, Virginia
in the
1730’s. Their descendants moved in the
1780’s to Tennessee.

Canada. Colin
who came to Canada from Perth as a young man in 1802
was one of the pioneers in expanding the fur trading business westward
in the
years between 1815 and 1820. William
Robertson was an earlier Scotsman in the fur trade, initially in
Detroit and
later in Quebec. But the death of his
wife in 1800 left him heartbroken and he left Canada forever.

Two Robertson families from Glasgow – those
of John and James Robertson – were early settlers of Lanark county in
arriving there in 1821. Their father
John had been a soldier with the British army during the Napoleonic

Zealand. Thomas Robertson from Edinburgh was an
early settler on the Otago
Peninsula on South Island in 1847. He
lived there for more than fifty years.

Robertson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Robertson Names

Robert Donnachaidh, the fourth chief of the
clan, was the first in 1437 to adopt the Robertson name.

Alexander Robertson was a poet and a Jacobite
chief, the last of his line.

was an 18th century Scottish historian and principal
of Edinburgh University.  James Robertson was the 18th century American explorer sometimes called the father of Tennessee.
William Robertson
was British Chief of the Imperial General
Staff during
the First World War.
Dennis Robertson
was a distinguished British economist who
worked closely with Keynes.
Pat Robertson is an American

Select Robertsons Today

  • 86,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Midlothian)
  • 56,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 47,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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