Clan Matheson

Clan Matheson Society

Until the late eighteenth century there were very few Mathesons anywhere outside of Scotland.  Since then members of this clan family have spread across the globe, and there are few countries where the name is not known.

The Clan Matheson Society was set up in the mid-twentieth century to help members keep in touch with their family and roots.  Today there are five branches: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom and Europe.  Each branch runs its own activities and events, but from time to time members from around the world come together at an international clan gathering.

Clan Matheson

Where do Mathesons come from, and where does the clan originate?  The exact details are lost in the mists of time, but we do know that the name Matheson comes from the Gaelic MacMathan, which means “son of the bear”.  This shouldn’t be confused with the English Mathewson which means simply “son of Mathew”.

The MacMathans were settled in Lochalsh in Wester Ross in the Scottish highlands from early times. Kenneth  MacMathan, traditionally Constable of Eilean Donan Castle, is recorded in both the Chamberlain Rolls and the Norse account of the expedition of King Haakon IV against Scotland in 1263 which culminated in his defeat at Largs.

You can read more about the history of the clan on the international Clan Matheson website, and if you want to delve into detail you could read the History of the Mathesons.

Chiefs of Clan Matheson

Sir Alexander Matheson of Matheson, Bt

The identities of the clan chiefs are known from Mathghamhain in 1225 to the present day chief, a record spanning more than 780 years!  You can see the full list here.

The current chief is Sir Alexander Matheson of Matheson, 8th Baronet of Lochalsh, who succeeded to the chiefship of the clan in 2017 on the death of his father Sir Fergus Matheson of Matheson.

Find out more about what a baronet is, and the connection between the Matheson Baronetcy of Lochalsh and the Chief of the Clan Matheson in this article.  One of the eight baronets has a particularly interesting connection with New Zealand.


Clan Matheson has its own tartans: the red dress tartan and the dark green hunting tartan. Find out more about tartans in general and the Matheson tartans here.

Clan emblems

Members of Clan Matheson can wear the clansmen’s  and clanswomen’s badge, which bears the clan motto ‘Fac et spera’ (Do and hope). There are both negative and positive versions, and both can be used as appropriate. You can read more about this badge, and Clan Matheson’s other emblems, here.

Matheson merchandise

Buy some tartan, get a Matheson crest or deck yourself out in a kilt. Here is a list of suppliers in New Zealand.

Clan Matheson has made its mark in New Zealand

As Mathesons settled in New Zealand, they gave their name to natural features of the landscape such as lakes and mountains, and parts of the built environment such as roads. We’ve surveyed all Matheson and Mathieson place names in New Zealand. Follow these links to find out more about them.


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