Clan and Tartan

Tartan Tuesday: Clan Davidson

Tartan Tuesday: Clan Davidson
By Kirsty McIntyre

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In Gaelic: MacDhai (Son of David)
Clan Motto: Sapienter si sincere ("Wisely if sincerely")
Pipe Music: Failte Thighearna Thulaich (Tulloch's Salute)

Clan Davidson are a Highland clan, who formed part of the Chattan Confederation.

The exact origins of the Davidsons are unclear. One theory speculates that they were one of the co-founders of the Chattan Confederation, and subsequently the clan are descended from the chief of Clan Chattan. Other accounts speculate that the "David" from whom the clan take their name is David Dubh of Clan Cumming.

The clan lived relatively peacefully as part of the Confederation, although this may be in part due to their forces being effectively wiped out during a battle with Clan Cameron in 1370. After some Davidsons fought alongside their Chattan clanmates in the Battle of the North Inch, a number moved into the Lowlands, and by the 16th century the name Davidson appeared all over Scotland.

Clan Chattan supported the Jacobite uprising in the 18th century and fought for Prince Charles Stewart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") at the Battle of Culloden. After the failed uprising there were many convictions for Jacobitism among Clan Davidson, and those convicted were sent to North America. A large number of these exiles settled in the Piedmont Mountains in North Carolina and raised families. One descendant of these exiles, William Lee Davidson, was a militia general during the US Civil War. He was killed in action at the Battle of Cowan's Ford in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Davidson County in North Carolina is named in his honour.

The historic seat of Clan Davidson is Tulloch Castle in Dingwall. Acquired by Henry Davidson in 1762, the castle passed out of Davidson ownership in the early 20th century, but remains an important landmark for clan traditions. A graveyard for Davidson family members and their pets still remains in the grounds of the castle.

Clan Davidson was without a clan chief for some eighty years until the last direct line of descent was established in the 1990s with Duncan Hector Davidson of New Zealand. The current clan chief is Grant Guthrie Davidson 3rd of Davidston.

Notable Davidsons

Several Davidsons have left their mark on the modern world. Robert Davidson was the inventor of the first known electric powered locomotive in 1837, while Samuel Cleland Davidson developed the earliest air-conditioning systems.

In Scotland, perhaps the most well-known Davidson is Ruth Davidson, the current leader of the Scottish Conservative party.

In the 19th century, a wealthy merchant by the name of William Davidson gave his name to Davidson's Mains, a village on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The name Davidson is synonymous with the motorcycle industry. Walter Davidson Sr., William A. Davidson and Arthur Davidson were three of the four founders of the world-famous Harley-Davidson motorcycle company. The name has subsequently appeared in the animated series Biker Mice from Mars in the form of the character Charlene "Charlie" Davidson.