The Clan Ferguson

Motto: Dulcius ex aspersis - "Sweeter out of difficulties". (Latin)
Badge: A bee on a thistle all proper.

The Ferguson clan is a Scottish clan, going back several centuries. The name 'Ferguson' is one of great antiquity.


Origin of Name:

The name Ferguson is an Anglicization of the Gaelic "Macfhearghus" or MacFergus, son of Fergus, a personal name of old Celtic origin. It was a common baptismal name in both Scotland and Ireland from an early date. Subsequently, many families from entirely different origins took upon the surname. Although often considered as one clan, there are at least four main families of this name spread throughout the country in Argyllshire, Ayrshire, Fife, Perthshire and Aberdeenshire, all areas in Scotland.

Ferguson is also tied in with Fergusson, and they are considered the same clan. The different spellings of the name are of no significance and in former days depended on individual choice. Today it would depend on family tradition.

No single or common origin has ever been traced for the name of Ferguson or Fergusson which from very early times was established in many parts of Scotland, throughout the Central Highlands, Dumfriesshire, Ayrshire, Fife, Angus and Aberdeenshire, and in corners as remote as the burghs of Dunbar and Tain. The history of these different groups is naturally interwoven with that of the particular districts to which they belonged. The Fergus and Ferries familes are associated to the Ferguson Clan.

Its original Gaelic form MacFhearghuis or MacFergus has been spelled McKerras, anglicised as Ferguson or Fergusson, and shortened in Fergus, Ferrar, Ferrie, Ferries, Ferris and Ferriss, corrupted into other forms like Fergushill and Fergie, and the Sept Macadie with variations of Kiddie and Keddie.

There have been Kings of Scots with the name Fergus. The name "Fergus" is said to be derived from the Gaelic Fear, a man, Gais, a spear, and to be cognate to the English name Shakespeare; so the Clan Fergus might claim descent from several royal forebears, as well as from Fergus, Lord of Galloway, in 1165, whose wife was a daughter of Henry I. of England. The first solid mention of the name in more modern history, however, is in the charter by which King Robert the Bruce conferred certain lands in Ayrshire on " Fergusio filio Fergusii," who was ancestor of the family of Kilkerran, of which Lieut. General Sir Charles Fergusson is the head at the present hour. Families of the name, it is true, were to be found in other parts of the country, and Thomas, Earl of Mar, granted a charter of the lands of Auchenerne in Crotharty to Eoghan or Ewen Fergusson, who appears in the confirmation granted by David II. at Kildrummie Castle in 1364 as " Egoni Filio Fergussii." There have been Fergusons for six centuries in Balquhidder, represented now by those of Immerveulin and of Ardandamh, the latter in Laggan on Loch Lubnaig in Strathyre. Fergussons were also to be found in Mar and Athol, where, in the clan map included in Brown’s History of the Highlands,the neighbourhood of Dunfallandie is given as the country of Baron Fergusson.



The Ferguson Tartan, also known as Plaid in America, dates before 1850. The Ferguson clan has had their own unique pattern, as would any clan. The clan typically has two tartans, Ferguson of Atholl being most popular, and Ferguson of Balquidder. Both are viewable at



The Ferguson family Crest shows a bee perched atop a thistle, circled by a belt with a buckle, and the family motto "Dulcius Ex Asperis" ascribed, which is latin for "Sweeter after difficulties." It appears that there is more than one version of the crest, depending on which Fergusons you ask. You can view a black and white sketch of the crest at



Ancestry is a little complicated with Fergusons. As mentioned before, it became a common name, and many adopted it, creating multiple families with different ancestries.

There is a legendary first ancestor in Fergus Mor mac Erc, a very early King of Scots in Argyll, and a more probable one in Fergus Prince of Galloway who died in 1161. It is difficult to say who claimed the chiefship in those early centuries, although in the roll drawn up in 1587 the Fergussons appear among the "clanis that hes capitanes, cheiffis, and chiftanes quhome on they depend." The most notable family of the name, however, since the days of Bruce has undoubtedly been that of Kilkerran. Another noted family has been that of Fergusson of Craigdarroch in Glencairn parish, one of whom remains famous as the victor in the tremendous drinking bout celebrated in Robert Burns’ poem, "The Whistle." This family definitely claims descent from Fergus, the powerful Lord of Galloway of the twelfth century, already mentioned.


War Cry

“ Clannfhearghuis gu brath.”



There appears to be more than one:
(Fergusons of Strachur) Giuthas (Pine Tree);
(Fergusons of Dunfallandy) Crithean (Poplar).
Fergusons of Ros-greine (helium thymum mari-folium) Little sunflower.


Notable figures

This family became renowned for their soldiers, judges and colonial administrators.

Daniel Ferguson fought in the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 on the side of the Royalists against Cromwell. Daniel was captured and sent to New England on the ship "Unity" and settled in Kittery, Maine around 1656. 

Jamie Ferguson was MP for Aberdeenshire for 30 years, dying as 'Father of the House of Commons' in 1820.

Adam Ferguson, d 1816, wrote essays and made insights that have been seen as the origin of the subject of Sociology.

Sarah Ferguson, duchess of York, was formerly married to Prince Andrew in the UK.


Present Day

Ferguson is a popular name in the USA and UK. I'm not quite sure when the first Fergusons came to the USA, but it's obviously many many generations ago. The surname Ferguson is more common in Scotland than in Ireland (I believe), and more common along the East Coast in the US than on the West. Ferguson is also a popular surname among African-Americans.



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