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Origins of the name

D I X O N / D I C K S O N

its clan and tartan associations

last page update 30 December 1999

The Dickson/Dixon (and other derivates) family name was first found in Scotland. Early records show Thomas Dicson, a follower of the Douglas clan, at the capture of Castle Douglas in 1307.

Although the name was Scottish in it's origin, with the spelling of Dicson or Dickson (the most common usage in Scotland today), being a Borders counties name it also spread to the north and midlands of England to become a popular family name with the spelling of Dixon.

It was during the 11th century that the use of surnames was introduced to the British Isles by the Normans. They were usually local (a place or landmark), patronymic ("son of"), a trade or profession name, or a nickname.

The name Dixon/Dickson is a patronymic name, meaning "Dick's son" or "son of Dick". Coming from Scotland it might seem strange that it is not "MacDick", but this is simply explained again by it's Borders origins.

The ancient family motto is said to be "Fortes Fortuna Juvat", which is Latin for "Fortune Helps the Brave".

In his book The Border and Riding Clans and a Shorter History of Clan Dixon, (published by Albany, New York, 1888) B. Homer Dixon wrote:-

"In a charter from King Robert Bruce about A.D. 1306 to Thomas Dickson it [the name] occurs as Filius Ricardi (son of Richard) and the Charter is endorsed Carta Thomas fil Dick."

"Nesbit in his Heraldry (Edinburgh, 1722) says 'The Dicksons are descended from one Richard Keith, said to be a son of the family of Keith's Earls Marshalls of Scotland.' and in proof thereof carry the chief of Keith Marischal. This Richard was commonly called Dick and the 'son' was styled after him. The affix of son in the Lowlands answering to the prefix Mac in the Highlands." the KEITH Clan Crest

Because of the connection to Richard Keith, the descendants of Thomas Dickson are considered part of the Clan Keith and use their tartan.

Clan Keith has the Latin motto "Veritas Vincit," which translates "Truth Conquers."

For three centuries the Keith family home was Dunottar Castle near Stonehaven.

Thomas Dickson himself has quite a history. He was associated in some way with William Wallace (of "Braveheart"), and he was killed by the English in 1307 in battle. Tradition states that he was slashed across the abdomen but continued to fight holding the abdominal wound closed with one hand until he finally dropped dead. He is buried in the churchyard of St. Bride of Douglas, and his marker shows him with a sword in one hand and holding his belly with the other. Robert de Brus (Bruce) had made him Castellan of Castle Douglas the year before he was killed.


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