This most interesting surname is of Old Gaelic origin, found in Ireland and Scotland, and is a patronymic form of "Fergus", from an Old Gaelic personal name "Fearghus", composed of the elements "fear", man, and "gus", vigour, force, with the patronymic ending "son". This Gaelic personal name was the name of an early Irish mythological figure, a valiant warrior, and was also the name of the grandfather of St. Columba. Ferguson is by far the most popular and widespread form of Fergus. Some Irish bearers f the name "Fergus" claim descent from Fergus, Prince of Galloway (deceased 1161). Ferguson is widespread in Ireland in Ulster, where it is of Scottish descent. The surname is first recorded in Scotland in the mid 15th Century (see below), where the Fergus(s)ons are classed among the septs of Mar and Atholl, according to the Acts of the parliaments of Scotland, 1124 - 1707. King Robert 1, Ruler of Scotland (1306 - 1329) granted certain lands in Ayrshire to Fergus, son of Fergus. James Ferguson (1710 - 1776) presented to the Royal Society (1763) a projection of the partial solar eclipse of 1764 and lectured on electricity. Patrick Ferguson (1744 - 1780) invented the first breech-loading rifle used in the British army. A Coat of Arms was granted to Major James Ferguson, in 1691, which depicts a silver buckle between three silver boars' heads couped, within a silver embattled bordure, on a blue shield, with the Motto "Arte et Animo" (By skill and courage). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Fergusson, which was dated 1466, in the "Scottish Records of Kilkerran", during the reign of King James 111 of Scotland (Stuart), 1460 - 1488. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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