THE ANCIENT DAVIDSON HISTORY

Davidson Crest

Our family name, Davidson, has its roots in the early 1300’s. Donald Dubh of Inverhaven, was the third son of Robert Comyn and the grandson of John Comyn, known as the Red Comyn, who was killed by Robert the Bruce in the year 1306 in Dumfries. Donald married the daughter of Angus, the sixth chief of the MacKintoshes. The Davidson family name comes from their son, Dhai Dhu, or David Dubh of Inverhaven. By 1308, Rob­ert the Bruce had completely destroyed the Comyn or Cummings and caused the name Comyn to be proscribed around 1320. Be­cause of this, the descendants of Dhai Dhu changed their name and became known as Clan Dhai, or MacDhais or Davidson.

Although Davidson sounds like an English name, it is in fact derived from the Gaelic “MacDhaibhidh,” The Clan Dhai was one of the earliest to become associated with the confederation of the Clan Chattan. This association almost proved to be the end of the Davidsons.

In the late 13th Century the Camerons invaded Arkaig which was Clan Chattan land. In 1370 a group of Camerons were return­ing from a raid into Badenoch, when they were met by a force of MacKintoshes, MacPhersons and Davidsons. This became known as the Battle of Inverhaven. Prior to engaging the enemy a dispute broke out between the MacPhersons and the Davidsons regard­ing the right to command and military precedence. This was not an unusual occurrence in the Highlands where clans were accus­tomed to claim the honor of certain positions on the field of battle. When the MacKintoshes supported the Davidsons’ position the MacPhersons withdrew from the field while in sight of the enemy. The Camerons exploited the chaos and the Davidsons suffered badly in the battle. The MacPhersons did eventually take the field and routed the Camerons. Even though the Clan Dhai had lost their Chief, Lachlan Davidson, and his seven good sons in the clan battle, the MacPhersons were accorded credit for the victory. The outcome of this battle was a bitter feud between Clan Chattan and the Camerons that would last until 1666.

In ancient times the Davidsons controlled the lovely pictur­esque valley of Glen Truim. Their stronghold was at Inverhavan in Badenoch near the mouth of Truirn Water where it emptied into the Spey above Craig Dhu. In the aftermath of the Battle of Inver­haven the Chief of Clan Davidson along with many of his followers migrated north and settled in Cormarty where the Chief’s prop­erty became known as Davidston. In the 18th Century Davidston was sold and the Davidson Chief bought the estate called Tulloch in Ross-shire. This branch which became the leading line of the family became known as the Davidsons of Tulloch. Tulloch Castle, a keep built in 1466 near Dingwall, Ross-shire, became the family seat through the marriage of Alexander Davidson to its heiress, Miss Bayne of Tulloch. This Chief was the hereditary Keeper of the Royal Castle of Dingwall, and his descendants continued to reside at Tulloch.

Some of the Davidsons remained in Chattan and the Davidsons of Cantray in Nairnshire and Inverness are their representatives. Another major branch of the family is the Inchmarlo with Dess.

By the 16th Century the name Davidson had spread from Aberdeen to Ayr. There was a family of Davidsons at Samuelston in the Borders and the name Davidson can be found along with the Elliots and Turnbulls as wild and unruly clans. Duncan Davidson, Lord Lieutenant of Ross-shire, was a favorite of Queen Victoria whom he used to call upon regularly when she visited Balmoral.

During the 1715 and 1745 uprisings the Clan Davidson largely fought on the Jacobite side and suffered because of it. During this time the chief of the MacKintoshes was an officer in the Black Watch and fought on the government side. This, however, did not stop his wife, a Farquharson, from raising the Clan Chattan Confedera­tion in his absence. She selected the MacGillivray of Dunmaglas as commander and he led the Clans, including the Davidson Clan of Clan Chattan to victory in the Battle of Falkirk in 1746.

The Davidson Coat of Arms are Argent, on a fes Azure between a dexter hand couped accompanied by two pheons in chief and a pheon in base Gules, a buck lodged Or. Above the shield is placed a helmet befitting his degree with a Mantling Azure doubled Ar­gent and on a Wreath of his liveries is set for a Crest a stag’s head erased Proper and in an Escrol over the same the motto SAPIEN­TER IS SINCERE (Wisely if Sincerely). It means “in whatever you do or say act with sincerity if you can’t always act in wisdom.”

Considering the Davidsons are all descended from the Black/Red Comyns, and if one was to rehash history the Comyns excuse would have been that they acted with sincerity to back the wrong side for the Crown of Scotland even though it was not wise since Bruce won and the only surviving decedent of the Black/Red Co­myns was forced to give up the name, and seek refuge with his only friend, Chief of MacKintosh, Donald Dubh, grandson of the Black Comyn. The first Davidson must have had a sense of humor if he was the one who coined the motto.

The Presbyterian Scots, including the Davidsons, were trans­planted by the British Crown to Ulster Plantation on the soil of the Catholic Irish. There they professed and maintained the superior status of conquerors; but their sincere affection for Erin and its traditions is evident from their willingness to join St. Patrick soci­eties in order to perpetuate Irish memories after they arrived in the American Colonies. Nevertheless, the term “Scot-Irish” is, in a sense, a misnomer. It refers more accurately to the geographic rather than the ethnographic origin of the breed. Marriage between the Scots and Irish appears to have been the exception rather than the rule.

England’s effort to bind Catholic Ireland more closely to her­self by colonizing the northern counties with Protestants brought into Ulster many an alien element. The largest group was the Cal­vinist Scots; but the Anglican English were considerable and there were, in addition, Puritan English, French Huguenots and other foreigners who professed no faith at all.

Whatever their religious complexion, the Ulstermen were robust colonists. The Naboth’s vineyard which they cultivated flourished. Indeed, it was their assiduous industry which eventu­ally brought about their wholesale exodus, for the canny instincts and close economy of the Scots soon produced an export trade in wool, and later flax, that upset the British monopoly. This was more than England had bargained for and Parliament quickly im­posed duties that stifled Ireland’s contacts with outside markets. Many of the Scots were tenants on estates of English court favor­ites, and as their leases expired the rents were raised. The low living standards of the native Irish enabled them to underbid and oust the Scot lessees. In addition to these delusions and snares, the Calvinists had also to bear the onus of paying tithes for the support of the established Episcopal Church and were subject to disabilities and restrictions laid upon dissenters by the English penal laws.

In the early 1700’s there was little to induce the destitute or de­vout Calvinist Scots to remain in Ireland. The Scot-Irish deserted the Emerald Isle by the thousands early in the eighteenth century. The fact that 1740 and 1741 were famine years in Ireland is not without significance. It is estimated that more than one half of the Presbyterians in Ulster came to America before the Revolution. By 1775 they constituted about one sixth of the population of the revolting colonies.

There is no final answer to the question as to whether the pri­mary impulse for the Scots to emigrate was religious or economic. The force of motivation differed with individuals. For those with strong established Calvinist congregations in the New World, the scales weigh in favor of worship. Nothing on the frontier enforced religious observance. The obstacles against it were formidable. Even the most forgiving of Presbyterians, however, had difficulty forgetting the ruin of the woolens industry and exorbitant land rents imposed by the British. The emigrants carried with them a heritage of hatred that was vented in grape and buckshot when the Redcoats invaded their American Canaan in the Revolution.

The Davidsons were devout Calvinist Presbyterians. They brought their strong religious convictions with them to the New World. Their fatalistic belief made them worthy warriors in the cause of the American Revolution.

CHAPTER 2