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Good day to you dear readers. Thank you for joining me again as I take a trip down the rabbit hole in search of the origins and stories of Scottish Clans (quite why they were placed down a rabbit hole is beyond me, but my little part of the office is a terrible mess). The clan we are taking a look at today is Clan Anderson.
What’s in a name?
Before we get into some Andersons in more depth, it might be worth having a little think about surnames. Obviously we have surnames to help to differentiate us from other people with the same name as ourselves. If I were named Paul and I lived in a town with several other people named Paul, things would become very confusing very quickly so clearly a system is needed to prevent this confusion. What is surprising is that the convention of using surnames is a relatively recent development in human history; it wasn’t until the 13th
centuries that we started to use them. Originally surnames were derived from one of three main sources: a geographical feature or location (John Hill), by profession (John Smith) or from the name of the person’s father (John Johnson). This last form is known as a patronymic surname and this convention of naming was highly common in ancient Scotland.
“That’s great and all” I can hear you saying “but what has this got to do with Clan Anderson?” What I would say to you, after I told you not to interrupt – I mean really, where did you learn your manners? – is that, that is a very good question. The patronymic naming convention makes it hard to claim a common ancestor or progenitor of the Clan. Anderson simply means “Son of Andrew” (as does MacAndrew – Mac indicating “son of” in Gaelic) which isn’t particularly helpful as Andrew has been a hugely popular name in Scotland for centuries, St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland after all. With so many Andrews to choose from, the act of pinning down a single Andrew from whom the mighty family descends is highly unlikely, that coupled with the fact that the name is extremely widespread throughout Scotland (Anderson in the lowlands, MacAndrew in the highlands) means that the origins of the name are more than likely patronymic. There is nothing wrong with a family or clan name being patronymic (some of my best friends have patronymic names) but it does mean that we don’t have some fantastic story full of ogres, dragons and princesses to account for the existence of Clan Anderson.
Before you get too down-hearted, read on. It is not all doom and gloom as far as the Anderson’s are concerned. What the family name lacks in mythology, they more than make up for in reputation and recognition. Clan Anderson is a fully recognised clan as far as the Court of the Lord Lyon is concerned, although it does not have a chief, the clan does have a coat of arms and a motto –Stand Sure. To further cheer you up, the Andersons have historically been an incredibly brainy bunch and can count parliamentarians, burgesses, mathematicians, inventors, scientists and writers among their crew. Indulge me a little longer as I tell you about a few of these interesting Andersons.
David Anderson of Finshaugh
– David was a well-known scientist in his day who was capable of putting into practice, more abstract mathematical thinking. There is a recorded anecdote of David using applied mathematics to remove a large stone that had been obstructing the entrance to Aberdeen harbour (prompting the nickname Davie Do-a’-things).
– Born toward the end of the 16th
century, Alexander grew into a well-regarded mathematician. Just where Alexander was educated is not known but by the early 17th
century, he was living in Paris where he gained renown for his elegant and ingenious works on the subjects of geometry and algebra.
John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverly
– John Anderson was born in Eskbank, Dalkeith – not far from Edinburgh – in 1882. Like most Andersons I
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John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverly - For whom the Anderson Shelter was named.[/caption]
have come across, John excelled in academics; studying mathematics and geology at Edinburgh University as well as Chemistry at the University of Leipzig (notably writing his thesis on the chemistry of Uranium). John Anderson then gave up his career as a Chemist and entered the civil service. Anderson rose quickly through the ranks, before entering government in 1938. In October of 1938 Anderson was made Lord Privy Seal and therefore a member of the cabinet. In this role he was put in charge of air-raid preparations for the war, developing the Anderson air-raid shelter.
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The truth is out there...[/caption]
– Often my father and older brother will while away the hours fighting over which of them loves Gillian Anderson the most, after twenty years there has been no clear winner. Gillian Anderson broke onto the world stage at the age of 24 when she played the starring role of Dana Scully in the X-Files and hasn’t been off our screens since then.
Paul Thomas Anderson
– Born in 1970, Paul Thomas Anderson has become one of the world’s most respected directors.
Paul Thomas Anderson became interested in film-making at a young age, writing and directing Cigarettes & Coffee at the age of 23. That film launched Anderson into the spotlight, allowing him to go on to direct Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. Anderson has been nominated for six Oscars with his films earning another fourteen nominations for the actors and crew.
Richard Dean Anderson
– This one is for my younger brother who is more than a little obsessed with this actor. Richard Dean Anderson was born in 1950 in Minnesota, originally wanting to be a hockey player before breaking both his arms. Hockey’s loss was the world’s gain though as Richard would go on to become MacGuyver, a secret agent who used a Swiss army knife to solve whatever problems he encountered (usually by ingenious methods). Richard Dean Anderson has also starred in many other TV shows, notably Stargate SG – 1 as well as appearing in The Simpsons.
If you are an Anderson, or have more than a passing interest in the clan, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I'd love to hear any stories you may have about this or any other clan - who knows, your story could end up being featured in one of the blogs!