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The Chief of Clan Watson

I could make this one of the shortest web pages in history, as there is no chief.

However, that would be a cop out as a) there was one (clearly, as you can't be a clan unless you have / had a chief), and b) the Clan Watson Society of Canada have been investing time and effort in establishing who he was and who his heir and successor is, and it would be a shame not to acknowledge their work.

In the 1980s, a group of interested Watson descendents in Nova Scotia wrote to The Court of The Lord Lyon to enquire as to whether the Watsons had ever existed as a clan under a chief (a clan can only be a clan if it has a chief - if the Court had no records of a chief, then Clan Watson would not officially exist). The Court responded to the query, and confirmed that the last registered chief was one James Watson of Saughton, who was recorded in their 1818 books as "direct male line from Richard Watson of Saughton, to be described as: Chief of the name in Scotland". This information not only allowed the Nova Scotian Watsons to found their society, but it also enabled them to attempt to establish whether James Watson had any living heirs that may be both eligible and interested in assuming the title of Clan Chief.

They established that James Watsons had two sons, but both were killed in the Boer War, and that his only daughter, Helen, married the Earl of Morton, carrying the Watson Chief's title to the Clan Douglas. The Society contacted the present day Earl of Morton to see whether any of his family would be interested in taking on the title of Chief of Clan Watson, but his first son may be taking on the title of Chief of Clan Douglas (understandable, as the Mortons are Douglases, Clan Douglas is currently Chiefless and the 4th Earl of Morton held the chieftaincy during the 16th century) and there is still no word as to whether his second son or daughter may be interested in the Watson title.

I'm not 100% sure, but I thought that affiliation to any particular clan could only be passed down through a paternal line and that the offspring of a female who'd married outside of her clan could not claim membership of their mother's clan. If I'm right, I would assume that the same would apply to the chieftancy of any particular clan, i.e. it can only be passed on down a male line. If that's the case, the fact that James Watson had no surviving male heir would mean that the chieftancy would pass to the next born male child up his line (his brother / father's brother, father's father's brother / etc) and their male offspring on James's death. This would also mean that his daughter's offspring would be members of Clan Douglas with no claim to membership of Clan Watson, making it rather hard for them to claim the chieftancy anyway. If anybody can throw any light on the issue, I'd be most interested to hear from you - use the contact page and drop me a line!

The whole matter grabbed my interest somewhat, so I did a little research on the Earl of Morton. I quite quickly found the thePeerage.com website, which allowed me to rapidly uncover loads of information on Helen's descendents, although it contains no details of any of James Watson's other relatives and the geographical information that allows you to locate records is sadly lacking. I've entered the data into both ancestry.co.uk and Genes Reunited to see whether it will throw up any leads that may allow me to investigate James Watson's ancestry.

Here's the family tree I've generated as it stands at the moment: Watson Chief's Family Tree

I'll be adding information to the tree as I uncover it, but it may take sometime - depending primarily on how long it takes me to get my next lead!


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