Thomson may be the sixth most common surname in Scotland, but it’s only been in the last few decades that it’s received recognition as an official family and clan name.
Indeed, in 2012 is when the Clan Thom(p)son Society finally saw the design for a new Ensigns Armorial. The young society began in 2006, according to its president, Mary Thompson. At that time, it was simply an organization for all the variations of Thoms, who felt they had a right to have an organization that carried their name. “At that time we found no historical documentation confirming our feeling that Thoms must have been a clan at some time,” Thompson says.
Many of the members of the Thompson clan had been members of other clans or societies, Thompson notes. But they felt they weren’t truly part of those clans, but added more for financial purposes than for any true kinship. In 2006, society members set about doing in-depth research in order to discover and document facts about the Thoms. In turn, this led to the discovery of the 1587 and 1594 Acts of the Scottish Parliament naming Thomson as a clan in the West Marche, with additional references to Thoms in Edinburgh and elsewhere.
The first historical reference to Thomson as a distinct border family were recorded by the English Lord Wharton in reports to the Earl of Shewsbury in 1540: “The Batyson and Thomsons of Eskdale, have burnt a town called Grange….” On the clan’s website, it is noted that “there is no single originating family named Thomson responsible for all the Scottish Thom(p)sons found today. The name is patronymic, in that the next generation is named after the father’s personal name. Although many have been linked by the Thomson DNA project, Thomsons are very numerous over a large part of Scotland and are primarily found south of the Forth and Clyde.”
Today, the Clan Thom(p)son Society has members on five continents and Lord Lyon King of Arms who devised the Ensigns Armorial for the clan set the spelling as the more, modern, common one of Thompson. Therefore the (p) is added to make it inclusive; the clan is the only one with the name Thompson.
The clan’s Amorial features a stag’s head with black antlers, thought by some to reference Henry Thomson, Lord Lyon, 1498-1512. The current Lord Lyon also confirmed the motto “Deny Us Not,” as appropriate to the society’s history as a riding clan from the borders. The Scottish Tartan Registry now lists the Thomson Dress Blue as the official society tartan.
Currently, the clan society numbers about 150 members from all around the world, including from Canada, the United States, Scotland, the U.K., France, Australia, South Africa and Botswana, among others. The members take part in activities ranging from dinners and camping weekends to competitive games. The annual general meeting is open to all members, either in person or by proxy and is held in different parts of the country each year to enable more members to attend near their homes.
In 2014, the clan plans to continue researching their ancestry and will encourage members to submit DNA samples, allowing them to more accurately trace where related families were located in the past. Says Thompson: “We are still a small society and our energies are focused on getting the word out to the Scottish Diaspora to let Thoms know that they have a name and a home of their own and no longer have to accept status as another clan. As we continue to grow, the ability to have more member interaction will increase, which will bring its own rewards.”
Thank you for this!
We always thought the translation from Gaelic to English of the Thompson clan motto to be, “Forget not!” It is inscribed on my late father and mother’s tomb Terrence B. Thompson & Dorothy O. Mac Innis Thompson, In St. Ninian’s Cathedral Cemetery in Antigonish! Interesting!
This is so Interesting. My Grandfather came from Sterling. I too am a Born Thompson. So looking forward to joining the Society. I’m in Germany by the way. The Idee with the DNA I find good. Perhaps would be good to look at blood Groups too, as I’ve been told that my blood group a throw back is. But then most of our Ancestors could have had the same blood Group. Ie testing DNA will show this.
very interesting stuff , nov9 2018 gathering in salado , i will be there
Lovely to know that the Thomsons are now officially a clan! My maternal grandmother was a Thomson, and my elder son carries the name as his middle name, as did my father.
Hi Im a Thomson and can trace my family back 7 generations this is now extended to 9 generations if you include my children and grand children
Which tartan would be appropriate when representing the Clan? I read somewhere the hunting tartan was the desired one.
I am Kevin Thomson from North Dakota
Hello…I am a Thomson by birth. My grandfather was Daniel James Thomson and so was my birth father. I have been searching for info about the Thomson’s and found this site to be very interesting. I know I still have relatives living in Scotland and as a young girl I communicated by letter with my cousin Ricky..he would be about my age (73) now. Thank you for this informative site.
Where are your Thomson’s from in Scotland? My father was born near the Mains of Dunnottar (near Stonehaven) in 1902. I have found most of my ancestors came from the Kincardineshire.
Interesting. My fitth Great-Grandfather was William Thomson (Lighthouse keeper around Montrose) though he was born about 1795 in Kincairdshire. I haven’t been able to go back futher at this stage. One of his daughters (and my fourth great-grandmother), Mary Thomson married David Addison (a cooper) who moved to Dunnottar around 1871. Most of my Scottish ancestors come from Angus, but a few come from Kincairdshire, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire.
That is strange. I am a thomson and I lived for a while at Dunnottar mains.
I find this so interesting. I am a Thompson and can trace ancestors back to 1600’s in Scotland. I love learning about my ancestry and hope to visit someday! I also want to pass my heritage onto my children and grandchildren!
18th great grandfather is as far back into Scotland I can find on my family tree.. knowing the history of this clan is intriguing to me
Dear Celtic Life & Clan Thomson,
Very much enjoyed your work and revelations wrt our Thompson family history. May God bless and keep you all safe.
Thanks for the interesting article! My Great Great Great Grandma married out of the Thomson family in Canada mid 19th century, but I grew up Highland Dancing. So I really appreciate being able to read some of that family history, and gain some understanding thank you!
My great grandmother was a Thomson. Her Mother came from Coveland Scotland in 1851.
Two brothers Thomson, my ancestors and in the same time Scottish mercenaries of army of Karl XII (Charles XII of Sweden), stayed in Estonia in time the Great Northern War 1700-1721.
How can I contact more closely clan Thomson members in Scotland?
My Thompsons came to U.S. in 1634 claiming Scottish ancestors. Traced back to Vicar William Thompson born in Lenham, Maidstone Borough, Kent, England. Trying to continue tracing my genealogy in United Kingdom.
My DNA lists Sweden, Denmark 48%, Norway 21%, probably accounting for 3 of my 4 grandparents heritage as they were Scandinavian,Olson, Wahman, Philip, all genealogies traced back to Scandinavia. Scottish DNA 24% is apparently my Thompson heritage supporting my ancestors’ claim of Scottish heritage
My father was born in Ceres, Fife in 1896 his name was Henry Thomson and came from a large family in Scotland.
I have visited the grave of a fourth grandfather by the name of Robert Thomson who was a ship’s captain who died at the age of 42., in 1742.
He is buried in a little graveyard with many other relatives.
I grew up in England with my father and mother but at the age of 23 Emigrated to the United States where I have lived for over
59 years. I still have relatives in Scotland and hear from a first cousin who has given me information about other relatives.
I am interested in the Clan Thomson and would be interested in hearing from your organization.
I’m from Port Perry, Ontario Canada. I can only go back as far as my Grandfather Robert Alexander Thomson. No idea where he came from when he left Scotland during WWII but he settled here in Canada after.
Hi Jordan. I think we may have a connection with you. There is a Robert Alexander Thomson in our family tree. We’re in Australia. There could be a connection there somewhere.
my mother’s side is Thomson,my father’s side is Stuart..love my heritage!
Thomson black is one of my favorite tartans
Am a direct descendant of David and Mary (Glendinning) Thomson, the first white settlers in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada in 1795. There is now a high school named after them. I have a book outlining the entire family history naming all family members up to my generation circa 1950. It’s my understanding that we originated out of the Glen Shee region with a strong association to the Grants, which would put us in the Chattan group, and not a sept of the Campbells – our crest head being a stag, not a boar.
My Thomsons seem to have originated in Co Tyrone. The earliest I have been able to trace them is a marriage between my great Grandfather x 4 Edward Thompson, who married Eleanor Elliott in 1792. Their son George Thompson born 1815, moved to Scotland with his wife and children, and they then seemed to have dropped the “p”. My grandmother always spelt it without the “p”. My grandmother married William Henderson in Paisley, Renfrewshire and came to Australia in 1911. So I also have ties to the Henderson Clan. My grandmothers 2 brothers also left Scotland. One went to Ontario, Canada and the other to Florida, Usa.
Hi I’m a Thomson. Our family Robert Thomson and his brothers and sisters came out to Australia in the early 1800’s and settled in three states of Australia. Our immediate family resided in Hamilton, Victoria. They built the first home to ever be built in Hamilton. Our family of Thomson’s here in Victoria are very iterested in making contact with family all around the world. I’m interested in the dress kilt. Was that originally a very pretty different green color and has that been changed in the later years?
Hello to all! I am a Thompson in the central part of the USA. Family has been in America for a few generations. My father’s name is Vester Lafayette Thompson born in Arkansas. His father was William Lafayette Thompson.
I am a member of the Thomson family that can be traced back at least 7 generations to Barvas, Isle of Lewis.
My great great grandfather emigrated to British Columbia, Canada in 1914.
I have done genetic genealogy to confirm the bloodline. I am a proud Scottish girl in Canada. Looking to find more ancestors and relations that can trace back to the Outer Hebrides.
I am Gregory Wallace Thompson, 6th generation Gadsden County Florida. 30% Scottish according to DNA. Third great grandfather Nelson Thompson was born in 1792 in South Carolina and I can’t track any further past him.