The Origin of
The Duncanson Name

 The use of fixed surnames was introduced into Scotland by the Normans about the year 1100, although the practice of using them was by no means common for many years. In the 14th Century it became the practice for sons to take their surnames from the christian names of their fathers. Thus Colinus, son of Duncani, would call himself Colinus filius Duncani, ie., Colin Duncanson.

The surname Duncanson was found in various forms. In the archives researched the earliest spelling of the name bore little resemblance to the one now used, but the genealogical connections have been established by experienced historical scholars. Although the name Duncanson occurred in many references from time to time the surname was spelt Duncanson, Duncansone, Duncason, Duncannon, Dunkeson, Dunkieson and some of these versions are still used today. These changes in spelling frequently occurred even between father and son. Preferences for different spelling versions usually either came from a division of the family, or for religious reasons, or to escape persecution or sometimes because Scribes and Church clerks frequently selected their own version of what they thought the spelling should be.

Nicholas Donecandonesoune was a Scots prisoner of war taken at Dunbar Castle in 1296. William Duncani was Burgess of Aberdeen in 1310. Colinus filius Duncani witnesses a Royal Charter of the lands of Dalmakeranc. 1316 - 18, and John filius Duncani is in record, 1326.

Surnames were adopted very late in the Highlands of Scotland and at first only by the Clan Chiefs and their near relatives. The progenitor of Clan Donnachaidh was Donnachaidh Reamhar (Duncan the Robust), also known as Duncan of Atholl, Duncan de Atholia. At first the Chiefs of Clan Donnachaidh, the heads of Duncan's family, called themselves Atholl or Duncanson. The Clan took their Gaelic name from Duncan , Donnachaidh, Children of Duncan, Duncanson. Most of the branches remained in their ancient district of Atholl to form the nucleus of a family community, a Clan, the Children of Duncan or Clan Donnachaidh.

A man would join a Clan for protection and to show his alleigance would adopt the Clan surname, usually Mac followed by the Chief's name, for example MacDonnachaidh, translated as Duncanson.

Donnachaidh Reamhar was a supporter of Robert de Bruce and had the Clan out at the Battle of Bannockburn. In the reign of David ll, only son of Robert de Bruce, Robert, son of Duncan de Atholia, was granted a Charter of Ferdhill.

Among the Charters granted during the reign of Robert lll, is one to Thomas Duncanson of Atholl, of the lands of Strathloche or Easter Davache; also another Charter to the same individual designated "of Strowane", of "ane ratification of all lands with a taillie".

In 1437, Grizzled Robert" Robert Duncanson, great grandson of Donnachaidh Reamhar, apprehended two of the principal assassins of King James l, and for this action King James ll, later rewarded Robert Duncanson by erecting his lands into the Barony of Struan in 1451.

In 1460, Alexander Duncanson succeeded as Fifth Baron of Struan, but being the son of Robert, he assumed Robertson as his surname and so the Clan cognomen came into existence although up until 1600, Clan Donnachaidh and Duncanson were convertible terms.

The name Duncanson emerged as a Scottish family in Berwickshire where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at the Park of Moreton in that shire. They are believed to be descended from the main stem of the Duncan Clan who were in turn descended from King Duncan of Scotland. However, Duncansons should look to Clan Donnachaidh for the origin of their surname. Gilbert Duncanson held the Park of Moreton in 1376.

John Duncanson was Mayor Berwick on Tweed in 1367. Andrew Duncanson was present at the perambulation of the bounds of Kyrkness and Louchor in 1395. John Duncanson was a juror on inquisition aput Rane in 1413. Thomas Dunkesoun was a Minister of Bowden in 1582. The Duncansons also acquired estates in Campbeltown and Inverary. John Dunkysoun was "Ludi magistro apud Tanadyss", 1603. Janet Dunkesone appears in Weyms, 1630, and Andrew Dunkesone, late Minister of Lessudden, 1669, may have been the son of Thomas Dunkesoun mentioned above. Dunkasoun, 1625; Dunkeson, 1651, and Dunkinsonne, 1652.


-Information concerning the Duncanson name credited to William Duncanson, Alloa by permission.