Family history research is an honorable endeavor which seeks to connect us to our past. Its objective is to identify the persons who define our pedigree, and to convey the stories that account for our own existence in time and place. Genealogy is also a process of enlightenment which casts a glow upon the human nature of those who preceded us and responded to the needs, hopes and aspirations of their time. They either rose to the challenges or fell to the obstacles but nevertheless, made contributions to the continuation of the clan, – contributions which can be identified and praised.
Genealogy inquiries often begin with the question: what is the origin of my family surname? We may think that a particular surname may be traced to a singular person or place in ancient history. However, in the case of the surname “Ferguson,” history records indicate several different geographic areas of Scotland where the name appears to have established ancient roots. The regional dispersion of this surname has led to the identification of different Ferguson clans emerging in both the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, albeit with various spellings. There is no single or common origin of this surname. As a result there is an array of representations of the Ferguson crest, badges and emblems. The following are a few examples.
The earliest occurrence of “Ferguson” in written records appears to be in Kintyre and Kilkerran in Ayrshire Scotland where it derived from St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, (also called Kieran The Younger, 516-549). He was one of the twelve apostles of Ireland who landed at Dalruadhain in the 6th century. The exuberance observance of his monastic activities, severe ascetic rule and holiness led to him being ranked among the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. It is at this time that the Gaelic name of “Fearghas” first appears in reference to this “man of vigor”. However, there seems to be no evidence that he actually fathered children from which the name “Fearghasson” could have originated and through which it was passed on to future generations. Rather the name may have been applied as a title of respect used to identify such persons in various families who strove to achieve the same respect as that of St Ciaran. This would explain the diversity of geographic locations of the several ancient families by the name of Ferguson. Eventually, as the global databank of DNA samples expands during the coming decades we may learn more precisely the degree to which the different Ferguson clans share common DNA origins.
Oral history, although unreliable, does provide some clues as to the possible locations where documentation of James’ life might be found. We are told “James moved with his parents to Tyrone Ireland after completing grade three, probably about the age of 9 or 10.” Does this mean that the family moved from somewhere else in Ireland, or from Scotland to Tyrone County?