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Wilson Tartan

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Motto: Semper Vigilans (Always watchful)

The name Wilson meaning ‘son of Will’ is found throughout Britain.  The first record of the name in Scotland was John Wilson, a merchant in the service of Sir John of Montgomery in 1405.  Michael Wilsoun was Burgess of Irvine in 1418 and John Wilson was burgess of Berwick in 1467.  Thomas Wolsoun was tenant of Neubotel Abbey in 1563 and Dand Vilsone and Pait Vilsoun were tenants of the abbot of Kelso in 1567.  William Willsoun is recorded as indweller in Cunyngham Baidland in 1662.  

The northern Wilsons are ranked as a sept of Clan Gunn, through George Gunn of Halberry Castle, Clyth, Caithness, Coroner of Caithness and 8th Chief of the Clan Gunn, in direct descent from Gunn or Gunnius, founder of the Clan who died in 1478.  He was one of the most notable men of his day in the North and had seven sons.  Their names were James (ancestor of the later line of chiefs), Robert, John, Alexander, William, Forquil and Henry.  There was also a daughter, who married High McDonald of Sleat, and from whom the present Chief of Sleat is descended.  

All the Coroner’s sons left descendants with the exception of Alexander and Forquil.  From William, the fifth son, are descended the Wilsons and also the Wiliamsons of Caithness.  The ‘Clan Gunn Wilsons’ are quite distinct from the East Coast Wilsons who belong to the Innes Clan, from the Innes-Aberkerder family of Banffshire and from Edinburgh the Wilsons bear the arms of the Wilsons of Littlefield.  

Recordings of the name include a John Wilson merchant in the service of Sir John Mountgomery in 1405 and Michael Wilsoun as burgess of Irvine in 1418.  The name was very common in Glasgow in the 16th century.  Peter Wilson (1746-1825), classical scholar and linguist, Professor of Greek and Latin in Columbia University, New York, was born in Ordiquhill, Aberdeenshire.  Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), the American ornithologist, was born in Paisley.  

Other variations of the name are Wills, Will, William, MacWilliams, Wylie and Wyllie.  It is not supposed however, that all Wilsons are necessarily connected with the Clan Gunn.  The only way to find out is through a specific genealogical trace.  The MacWilliams are also connected with the Duncans of Glen Donnachaidh (Robertsons) with the same derivation, that is, from a former prominent member of the Clan.

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