The name Ferguson (or Fergusson) and its history spreads from Argyle and Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland (then known as Dál Riata), but also as far across as Antrim in northeastern Ireland under Fergus Mór mac Eirc. Evidence suggests that the clan also spread right across the Scottish
Highlands as far as Dunkeld. Through emigration, either forced or voluntary, the name Ferguson and its rich heritage have travelled throughout the world.
The origin of the name Fergusson or Ferguson, "son of Fergus" (MacFhearguis in Gaelic), is shrouded by the mists of time. Medieval historians recorded a tradition that the founder of Scotland's monarchy was a Fergus who lived in Ireland about 300 B.C. Traditions tell that by 500 A.D. the Scots under Fergus Mór mac Eirc had left Northern Ireland and became established in Dál Riata, now Argyll. From Fergus Mor, with a few early exceptions, descend all subsequent kings and queens of the Scots, including the present Queen
. St. Columba of Iona (6th century A.D.) was a scion of Fergus Mor's royal line.
According to Medieval
historians Fergus was the founder of the Scottish
monarchy. Ayrshire and Dumfries Fergussons alike claim descent from Fergus of Galloway. The grandfather of Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick and in turn great-great-grandfather to Robert Bruce, Fergus, restored the see of Whithorn and founded Dundrennan Abbey during the reign of David I and Malcolm IV. He died as a monk at Holyrood in 1161. Through Robert Bruce passes the line of the Royal Family of Britain
. It was the 1st Earl of Carrick's signature that might suggest the origins of the Fergusson surname, Duncan, son of Gilbert, the son of Fergus, hence MacFhearguis.
In one of the oldest documents of ancient Scottish
history, the Senchus fer n-Alban, Ferguson is the only modern clan name mentioned. Some writers believe the Fergusons had their day as a powerful clan prior to the 13th century and became dispersed from Argyll (Dalriada) as the Scots spread into other parts of Scotland. Before the 18th century, at least five groups of Fergusons possessed lands and lived in the style of a clan under their respective chiefs in Argyll, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Dumfriesshire, and Ayrshire. Today, the Kilkerran Fergusons in Ayreshire and the family of Ferguson of Baledmund and the Fergusons of Balquhidder, both in Perthshire, are still owners of extensive lands.