Select Ferguson Miscellany

Here are some Ferguson stories and accounts over the years:

Ferguson Origins

Some Fergusons say they are descended from an early king of the Scots, Fergus mor MacErc.  The "Scotti," who had come from Ireland in the third century, were generally well established in their land of Dalriada (Argyllshire and the islands of Jura, Islay and Iona) by 500 A.D.  According to medieval historians this Fergus was the founder of the Scottish monarchy.  More directly, the Argyll and Dumfries Fergussons claim descent from Fergus, Prince of Galloway, who died as a monk in Holyrood in 1161. 

However, it is unlikely that all Fergusons have one single origin.  As Sir James Fergusson wrote in his 1956 book The Fergussons:

"As far back as we can find enough evidence on which to base theories, we notice at least five main groups of Fergussons existing independently - two in the southwest, one in Argyll, one in northeastern Perthshire and Angus, one in Aberdeenshire - not to mention others in Balquhidder and Strathyre, in Fife, and in Rossshire. 

These groups were so widely separated that they never could and, in fact, never did regard themselves as one clan in the same sense as, for example, the Campbells, Macdonalds, Grants or Munros."

The Fergussons of Craigdarroch

The Fergussons of Craigdarroch in Glencairn parish in Dumfriesshire can claim to be the oldest of the Ferguson clans.  The first laird of Craigdarroch flourished in the 14th century. 

"John Crawford of Balmakane grants a charter of confirmation to Jonyke Fergusson, Lord of Craigdarroch, for the four merk worth of land of Jargburch and mill of Balmakane, dated July 6th 1398, which is the oldest bearing date I find."

However, these Fergussons are probably best remembered by their associations with the song Annie Laurie and the poem The Whistle

Annie Laurie
is an old Scottish song based on a poem by William Douglas who had fallen in love with the lass.  Her family declined the match and Annie Laurie later married Alexander Fergusson in 1710.  She lived at Craigdarroch for over fifty years. 

Alexander Fergusson, a descendant, was noted for his convivial habits and he took part in a tremendous drinking bout that was celebrated in Robert Burns' racy poem The Whistle.  

"Next uprose our Bard, like a prophet in drink -
Craigdarroch, thou'lt soar when creation shall sink!
But if thou would flourish immortal in rhyme,
Come - one bottle more - and have at the sublime!"

Craigdarroch drank "upwards of five bottles of claret."  He was the victor of "the whistle" - which survives today as an heirloom in Caprington castle.

Fergusons and Fergussons

Early spellings were Fergussoun and Fergussone.  Then came Fergusson and Ferguson.  Fergusson survives today.  But Ferguson increasingly predominates.

1841 Census
  11,082  (88%)
   1,442  (12%)
1901 Census 
  18,082  (96%)
     841   ( 4%)

Birth Registrations (1538-1854)
  19,939  (78%)
   5,558  (22%)
Birth Registrations (1854-2009)
  61,841  (95%)
   3,380  ( 5%)

Captain John Ferguson and Bonnie Prince Charlie

The Lowland Fergusons were generally not sympathetic to the Jacobite cause in the rising of 1745 and they fought on the side of the Government against the Pretender, Prince Charles.

It was Captain John Ferguson of HMS Furnace who pursued the Prince thoughout the Western Isles after his defeat at Culloden.  When asked by a kin's woman whether he would accept the 30,000 pounds reward, Ferguson was said to have replied:

"No, by God, I would have preserved him as the apple in mine eye, for I wouldn't take any man's word, no, not even the Duke of Cumberland's, for 30,000 pounds sterling, though I knew many to be such a fool as to do it."

Fergusons in Ulster

There were 828 Fergusons recorded in Ulster by Griffith's Valuations of the mid 19th century.  The largest numbers were in counties Down, Tyrone and Antrim.


The Fergusons of Wilkes County, North Carolina

It was said that three Ferguson brothers came to America from Scotland in the 1700's.  By the 1780's these Fergusons were to be found in Wilkes county, North Carolina, marrying with the Tripletts.  Richard Ferguson married Verlinda Triplett there sometime around 1789.  Richard was still in Wilkes county in 1850 where he was recorded in the census at the age of 84.

Curiously, some of Richard's descendants took a DNA test and discovered that they were not Fergusons at all but Allisons.  There was an Allison family that lived very near the Ferguson farms in Wilkes county.

A correspondent has written:

"My wife is a descendant of Tom Ferguson and a great grand-daughter of Lindsay Carson Ferguson who was a captain in the Home Guard during the Civil War in Wilkes county and then served as its postmaster (which was how the town got its name of Ferguson).  We recently attended the funeral of Edith Ferguson Carter at the cematery in Ferguson.  She was the local historian, as was her father Thomas Wiley Ferguson, and operated a history center there called Whipporwhill Village." 


Fergusons to Louisiana

Daniel Ferguson and his wife Esther had heard wonderful tales of Bayou Chicot which some said was being settled by Irish holders of Spanish land grants as early as 1760.  They had started out from South Carolina in 1808 in a wagon train with a few other families and settled in this land of sweet gum, magnolia, dogwood, and pine trees.

The Ferguson house, as it is still called, had fine old moss-draped to shelter it and, though it was made of split logs and chinked with moss and mud, it was comfortable and roomy with a large living room heated by an ample fireplace.  It had plastered walls with a lovely chair rail, with bedrooms and a nursery up the narrow stairway.  The nursey was jokingly called the corral.  For here the children all received their lessons from the tutor who lived on the plantation.

These people were not coonskin cap settlers.  Many had parents who had been educated in the great universities of Europe and they brought their cultural life with them.  Here in this little Bayou Chicot there stood a grand Opera House.  Boats came up the bayou from New Orleans bringing world-famous singers.

Fergusons to Texas

James Parson and Susan Morrow Ferguson had left their home near Chamois in NE Missouri for Dallas, Texas in 1860.  The trip by covered wagon took them through Arkansas and Indian territory.

Young Bill, who had made the trip with his parents, recalled the family was in Arkansas on Election Day and the men were drinking and wild with excitement and the general opinion was that if Abe Lincoln was elected there would be a war and his father would have to go.  The wagon road through Indian territory took them to Boggy Depot where Billy's younger brother fell ill and died.  The loss of his brother and the sight of the strange people called Indians made an indelible impression on the young boy.

The family, which had left Missouri to escape the harsh winters, now found itself in Dallas county in late November in the midst of a snowstorm.  They settled first on the George West farm in the Cochran Chapel community.  James found work at Terry's grist mill and later hauled bricks as the town of Dallas was being rebuilt after a devastating fire. 

John Ferguson of Perth County, Ontario

John Ferguson had built the first stone house in Perth (on Gore Street).  He had left Scotland in 1816 and had been one of the earliest settlers in the area.  He was known far and wide as "Craig Darroch," the Scottish parish from which he had emigrated.  In time he became a wealthy merchant and lumberman.  He died in Perth in 1857 at the good old age of seventy seven.

The Perth Courier of January 8, 1858 reported as follows:

'To show the estimation in which he was held, the writer would relate the following remarks made over Craig Darroch's grave. 

An old Highlander spoke to this effect: "Craig, Craig, you are lying there decent man, as you were.  My heart is grieving at parting with you.  I have known you for fifty years.  We will long remember you."

Another Highlander remarked: "Craig, your friends are standing on the brink of your grave.  We are sorry to part with you.  This is the Sabbath day which we have been taught to revere and respect. But after all Peter McGregor might just as well bring his pipes and play Ferguson's Lament.  I think myself it would be very suitable and proper that when in parting with our friend, his spirit in going aloft should be accompanied by the stirring strains of our national music that so often has cheered many a gallant soul to death or victory.  Oich, oich, there are but few true Highlanders left."' 


Daniel Ferguson to South Australia

The Fergusons left Scotland from Leith, on June 28, 1838 on the Catherine Jamieson.  They reached South Australia on December 1, 1838, after a journey of five months.  A barque of 317 tons, the Catherine Jamieson was captained by W Hutchinson and carried 30 passengers. 

In the cargo were the possessions that Daniel Ferguson had brought with him from Scotland to start his new life, some of which still survive.  Folding chairs taken out on the vessel and owned by later generations of the family are still in good condition.  Christening gowns and baby clothes of fine muslin have also become treasured family heirlooms, as has Daniel Ferguson's personal seal.

David Ferguson settled at Bank Flat on the Gawler Plains, one of the first settlers in the area.  He established his first farm in the area known as Little Para, about 12 miles from the town of Gawler which was just beginning to be built when Daniel Ferguson arrived in the area.  In 1840, Gawler was described as containing "one very good inn, one public house, police barracks, two smith's shops, six dwelling houses and 34 inhabitants."

The 1844 directory listed Daniel Ferguson as a cultivator on section 47 of Bank Flat.  He had under cultivation 49 acres of wheat, five of barley, and a quarter of an acre of garden.  He also had 480 sheep, sixteen cattle and two pigs.

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