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Watson History

The aim of this section of the website is to give an overview of Watson history, from the development and spread of the name and its variants in the UK and Ireland, through the appearance and subsequent disappearance of the Scottish chiefly family, to its more recent spread across the globe. More detailed articles, some beginners guides to various aspects of family history research and a wealth of other resources will be available in the Members Only section, so please join up if you wish to access even more!

We are researching all the time, and the amount of material in this section will be added to as we complete bits of research. Populated pages are shown as links in the index below and can be accessed either by clicking on the link or via the drop-down menus at the top of the page. Items in the list that don't appear as links indicate where we'll be researching next. If you are researching anything to do with Watson history, or are interested in doing so, please contact us as we'd love to swap notes! We also welcome input for the site, so if you are interested in supplying material or write-ups, we've love to hear from you!

  • The origins and spread of the Watson name in the UK

  • Were the Watsons a clan? Does it matter?

  • Were the Irish and Scottish Watsons related or did they arise independently?

  • Were the Watsons border reivers?

The Watsons as a Clan

Links to Other Clans

The Watsons are often quoted in connection with other clans, and they are listed as septs of both Clan Buchanan and Clan Forbes. Towards the west of Scotland, particularly near Loch Lomond and Dumbartonshire, we see the association with the Buchanans, although we know that the Buchanans also owned land in Midlothian by the 17th Century. From Fife up to Aberdeenshire, the Watsons are associated with the Forbeses. This section will explore some of these connections as well as cover the subject of septs and associated families more generally.

Watson Heraldry

The subject of heraldry relates to coats of arms. We see Watson armigers (arms holders) in Scotland, England and elsewhere as we study the family history. In this section, we give an introduction to heraldry for those new to the subject and then present our research on the various Watson coats of arms.

  • An introduction to heraldry (members only)

  • Watson heraldry

Watson Clusters

As we research historical Watsons, we see clusters of Watsons appearing in the records. In this section, we will look at some of these clusters in more detail, starting with the Watsons of Saughton who held the chiefship.

Associated Families

This section will cover some of the prominent families that intermarried with the Watsons, as is it sometimes through these families that we see hints of relationships between different Watson clusters. Note that this section only covers families for which we find documented evidence of a connection through blood or marriage; septs and other non-document relationships are covered in the Links to Other Clans section above.

  • The Bairds of Saughtonhall

  • The Carnegie Earls of Northesk

  • The Dalmahoys

  • The Douglas Earls of Morton

  • The Dundases of Arnistoun

  • The Gibsons of Pentland

  • The Hamiltons

  • The Hope Earls of Hopetoun

  • The Ramsays of Barnton

  • The Stenhopes


Intro text

  • The Watson One-Name Study

  • Researching your own family history - how to get started (members only)

  • An introduction to DNA in genealogy (members only)

  • The Watson Y-DNA Project (external link)

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