Matheson

CARE is taken by the historians of this clan to draw a distinction between its patronymic and that of the Lowland families whose original name was “Mathew’s son” The Highland name, they point out, is Mac Mhathain, “the son of heroes,” and the chiefs of the clan claimed to have been settled on the shores of Lochalsh in the west of Ross-shire as long ago as the time of Kenneth MacAlpin in the middle of the ninth century. According to tradition they were among the followers of that king in his wars with the Picts, whom he finally overthrew at the great battle of Cambuskenneth near Stirling in 838. They claimed to be of the same blood as the MacKenzies, whom they aver to have been the junior line. A certain Coinneach, or Kenneth, who was chief in the twelfth century, they say left two sons. From the elder of these Cailean or Colin, the Mathesons were descended, and from the younger, Coin neach or Kenneth, the MacKenzies took their origin. In the beginning of the fifteenth century the Matheson chief was strong enough to defy the Earl of Sutherland, and upon the latter descending upon Lochalsh, intent upon punishing so presumptuous a person, he was actually defeated and slain by the Mathesons. The scene of the encounter is still pointed out at a spot known from the event as Cnoc an Cattich.