The name Watson which
means 'son of Walter' is first recorded in Edinburgh in 1392. George Watson (1767-1837),
who was born on his father's estate in Berwickshire, was a distinguished portrait painter
who became first President of the Royal Scottish Academy.
WATT; MacWATT; WATSON: These names are derived from 'Wat', a diminutive of 'Walter', and as such was common as a baptismal name throughout most of Britain Scottish ancestry should not be assumed on name evidence alone and ancestral links should be established before such claim is made. In the Highlands the name and some derivatives are variously associated with the Forbes' and Buchanans, and to claim such affiliation ancestors would have to have come from the rural areas of Aberdeen and Kincardine shires, or from the glens of Angus where they had association with the Forbes', or from Stirlingshire or western Perthshire, where they had links with the Buchanans. The latter are said to be the posterity of Walter, a son of a Buchanan of Leny, of whom many later used the form 'MacWattie'. 'Watt' was common in Forbes country, especially in Strathdon where it remains popular. Other forms such as Macouat, MacQuattie, MacWatt, Walters, MacWalters and Watson may derive from either source and it would be impossible without genealogical or geographical evidence to ascertain to which race one belonged. Elsewhere in Scotland 'Watt' and 'Watson' were equally popular, and while some may be of Highland descent, many would have been native. 'Watson' is found in Edinburgh by 1392, and with 'Watt', it is noted in records relating to the Lowlands and eastern counties as far north as Aberdeen soon after. 'Watt' appears to have acquired further popularity amongst the fisher-folk of the Moray coast where in a community of 300, 225 were so named. The name 'MacWatters' is largely confined to Caithness and some authorities aver that there they followed the Sinclairs. The diverse kindred of 'Wat' can never have had a chief over all, but in 1818 James Watson of Saughton, Edinburgh, whose line can not now be traced, was the last person to record the undifferenced arms of Watson. The Watson tartan, devised earlier this century enjoys popular use among many of the name.
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