Clan Davidson History

Before the 1300s the most powerful family Scotland had ever known were the Comyns, dominating the Grampians, Buchan and Moray. It was prudent for many families to associate themselves with the Comyns for protection and prosperity.

A 19th century depiction of a Davidson clansman by R.R. McIan

A 19th century depiction of a Davidson clansman by R.R. McIan

With their policies of pure self-interest they were the enemy of Robert the Bruce and in 1306 John, the ‘Red Comyn’, was slain by Bruce ‘at the altar rails’ in Dumfries. Bruce destroyed the family completely by 1308. This left many families without protective association.

Donald Dubh of Invernahaven, having married the daughter of the sixth chief of the MacKintoshes, took his family, the Clan Dhai, as the Davidsons were then known, into association with the MacKintoshes when William was their seventh chief. Dhai was the Gaelic name the family had inherited from their first leader David Dubh.

The MacKintoshes were part of the Clan Chattan confederation and so too became the Davidsons. There were jealousies within the confederation because of favouritism shown to the MacKintoshes by the Captain of Clan Chattan and the Davidsons invariably found themselves called into fights by numerous peers.

In the end the association the family entered, far from benefiting them, almost brought about their extinction.

When several branches of Clan Chattan grouped to fight the Camerons in 1370, the MacPhersons, because of an on-going dispute with the Davidsons, withdrew from the fight while in sight of the enemy, and the Camerons defeated those who stayed. The Davidsons suffered badly in the battle.


In 1396 the Davidsons and MacPhersons fought side by side at the clan battle on the North Inch of Perth. When the combat was over there were only eleven enemy alive and only one Davidson.

The strongest lines of the family became the Davidsons of Tulloch, in Ross-shire, and the Davidsons of Cantray, in Inverness. Tulloch Castle was built in 1466 and a branch of this family can be found in France, where the Livre d’Or shows six generations of nobility before 1629.

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