"Sapienter si sincere", translated as "Wisely if sincerely"
Spey River, Badenoch District, Scotland
1085 - 1153 The origin of the Davidsons is attributed to a certain Gilliecattan Mhor, chief of Clan Chattan in the time of David I (1085 – 1153). This personage, had two sons, Muirich Mhor and Dhai Dhu. From the former (Muirich Mhor) was descended Clan Mhuirich or MacPherson, and from (Dhai Dhu) Clan Dhai or Davidson.
When the power of the Comyns began to wane in Badenoch, Donald Dubh of Invernahaven, Chief of Davidsons, having married the daughter of Angus, 6th of MacKintosh, sought the protection of William, 7th of MacKintosh, before 1350, and the Clan Davidson became associated with the Chattan Confederation. Clan Davidson was a Pictish clan with Celtic roots, principally speaking, the major central highlands area where they hail from has of course been predominantly Celtic throughout the Dark Ages and into the Medieval period. In the central highlands and the north especially, these were under the rule of petty Gaelic kings like Donald Lord of the Isles and the "Kings" of Moray.
It is believed that the Clan originated in the valley of the Spey River between the Cairngorm Mountains to the south and east and the Monadhliath Mountains to the north and west. The modern-day Scottish towns of Kingussie, Newtonmore and Avimore are located in the heart of the ancient Clan Davidson lands.
The Davidsons became quite powerful and they became involved in various feuds, particularly with the MacPhersons (another part of Clan Chattan), over a dispute in 1370 over who should lead the right wing in a battle between the Clan Chattan and the Camerons. The Davidsons fought in the famous "Battle of the Clans" at Perth in 1396. This was staged in front of King Robert III.
Sir Robert Davidson owas elected Provost in 1408. He was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.
The Davidsons did not invoke the pre fix Mac. This was a Gaelic tribe and one of the earliest to become associated with the Clan Chattan. The origin appears to be from David Dubh of Invernahaven. Their clan badge was stag’s head. The Davison Chief settled in early time in Innvernahoven, a small estate in Badenoch where the Truim river meets the Spey River.
The main focus of Clan Davidson settlement in this part of the Spey Valley was for many centuries on the south side of the river, at Ruthven. A castle existed here from 1229 on the mound now occupied by the walls of Ruthven Barracks
Unlike many Highland clan names which begin with the Gaelic 'mac' meaning 'son of', the son of David took the non-Gaelic form and became Davidson. There are a number of different Davidson lines but the most significant was from Badenoch. Possibly a branch of the Comyns who were defeated by Robert the Bruce's armies and became known as Clan Dhai when the Comyn name was prescribed around 1320. They became attached to the Clan Chattan confederation and David Dubh of Invernahaven, the first known bearer of the Highland line of Davidsons, married a daughter of the 6th chief of the Mackintosh clan.
Davidsons & the Jacobite uprisings During the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite Uprisings, Many members of the Clan Chattan Confederation supported the House of Stewart and rallied the Chattan Confederation to the Jacobite cause, of which many Davidson’s took part. After the battle of Preston, notable members of the Clan Chattan Confederation including Alexander Davidson I and his brothers, the surviving Davidson’s were convicted and transported to the North American colonies.
During the War of Independence with England, the clan sided with Robert I of Scotland, most likely due to the fact that MacKintosh’s enemy, John Comyn had declared for Edward Balliol. In reward for his fealty, MacKintosh was awarded the Comyn lands of Benchar in Badenoch in 1319. It was after this event that the Chattan Confederation grew in size and influence to 17 tribes.
During the 1745 Jacobite Rising, Angus, the chief of Clan MacKintosh was a captain in the Black Watch. Although traditionally the Clan supported the House of Stewart they had not declared for the Young Pretender. Angus’s wife, Anne, of Farquharson, successfully rallied the Chattan Confederation to the Jacobite cause. Following the defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the Chattan Clan was severely diminished in strength and influence. In 1747 the Clan Chattan Association was established as a way to stimulate interest in the clan history. The Association floundered and a second Association was founded in 1893, but again died out around 1900. The third Association was founded in 1933 in London and continues to this day. In 1942, the Lyon court separated the leadership of Clan MacKintosh and Clan Chattan. The leadership of Clan Chattan passed to the Mackintosh of Torcastle line.
In America, Alexander Davidson III fought in the America Revolution, his son Elijah Davidson fought in 1815 at the Battle of New Orleans. Elijah Davidson Jr. fought in the Black Hawk War 1835. Elijah and Elijah Jr's families crossed the Oregon Trail in 1850, establishing the town of Monmouth, Ore. in 1853.