Deriving their name from the gaelic surname ‘Mac Fhearghuis’ meaning ‘son of the angry’ or ‘son of the bold and proud, the ‘sons of Fergus’, can be found across Scotland from Ross-shire to Dumfriesshire.
With such a large amount of Fergusons across the country, there is no common ancestry due to the widespread nature of the name. This is perhaps best displayed by the family of the chiefship who have held lands in Ayrshire at Kilkerran since the 12th century having no connection to another major branch of the family, the Fergusons of Argyll, who claim descent from Fergus Mor mac Erc, a very early Scots King of Dalriada. The Fergusons of Kilkerran are instead believed to have been descended from Fergus, Prince fo Galloway, an important figure during the reigns of David I and Malcolm IV.
It would be during the 1100s that the chiefly family of the Fergusons would settle in Ayrshire at their spiritual home of Kilkerran, near the present-day village of Maybole, but the first official record of a Ferguson controlling the area did not come until around 300 years later when John Ferguson of Kilkerran was said to be the owner of the land. This record would precede an explosion of Ferguson activity in the area as, by 1600, there were Fergusons living all around the southern part of Ayrshire, all of whom acknowledged Kilkerran as their chief.
The Ayrshire Fergusons would go on to adopt the Protestant faith after the reformation and Sir John Fergusson would fight for the royalist cause during the civil war of the mid-17th century. Afterwards, the Ferguson estates would fall heavily into debt and it would only be under one of Sir John’s grandsons, also called John, to revive the clan’s fortunes as he became a distinguished lawyer and was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in September 1703. From here, this branch of the family would remain well respected with subsequent chiefs following John into the legal profession, serving in the army and even becoming the Governor-General of New Zealand in the 1920s. The present chief still lives at the clan’s historic clan seat in Kilkerran.