Clan Davidson is one of the major Scottish Clans with an identifiable history going back to at least the 13th century. Davidsons have associations with virtually all parts of Scotland, particularly the central Highlands and the Borders. Clan Davidson fought at Culloden as part of the Clan Chattan Confederation and has played a significant part in Scottish history.
The Historical Committee of Clan Davidson Association UK has done intensive research into the history of the clan and have cast doubt on some of which has at times been held to be Davidson history. Their book “The Davidsons: the Clan, its history and its people” is a full account of their findings and the following has been excerpted from this publication.
The difficulties that face anyone investigating what took place in Scotland in the late 1300s are not only the scarcity of written evidence but that such evidence is mostly versions of events recorded by those who came to power over that time with sometimes their own view of the facts!
No contemporary records of the early days of our Clan have survived. We have to depend on document quoting sources now lost and on orally transmitted traditions first committed to writing some centuries after the events they describe. The earliest reference to the Davidsons, or Clan Dhai, of Badenoch, is in the genealogy of Clan Mackintosh by Lachlan Mackintosh of Kinrara, brother of the 18th chief of Mackintosh.
To quote the Clan Davidson Association historians in a review published in 2004:
“Let us stay then, until proved otherwise, with Clanday [otherwise Clandai or Clandhai] being a branch of Clanchattan descended from David dhu, possibly of Nude, husband or son of Slane Mackintosh, daughter of Angus, chief of Mackintosh and his wife Eva. Let us also accept, at least provisionally, Clanday as a candidate for the origin of at least some present-day Davidsons”.
It is believed that the clan originates in the Highlands in the 14th century in the area of Badenoch, Strathspey and Newtonmore.
When the power of the Comyns began to wane in Badenoch, David Dubh of Invernahavon, Chief of Davidsons, having married the daughter of Angus, 6th of MacKintosh, sought the protection of William, 7th of MacKintosh, before 1350, and Clan Davidson became associated with the Chattan Confederation.
The Battle of Invernahaven in 1370 was an incident in the long-running feud between Clan Chattan and Clan Cameron. Both claimed lands in Lochaber. The Camerons having driven away the cattle of Badenoch, Lachland VIIIth of Mackintosh, according to Kinrara, “immediately pursued, with those whom in so sudden and hasty an expedition he was able to collect, and reached them in flight near the village of Invernahavon, where a fierce fight took place. Victory at first included to the Camerons, who were the greater number, for almost a whole sept of the Chattan, by name the Clan Dai, was utterly destroyed. Whilst these things were being so acted, another sept of the Chattans named the Clan Vurrich (ancestors of Clan Macpherson], who had not joined with those who were fighting, because the Clandai were preferred by Mackintosh to the right wing of the line of battle, withdrew …”
Although the Davidsons are said to have been involved, there is no sound basis that Clan Dhai fought in the Battle of the North Inch of Perth in 1396 and their annihilation at Invernahavon was too recent.
It is most probable that throughout the 1300s, Clan Dhai was a strong clan in Upper Speyside which necessarily owed allegiance to the Comyn overlords.
After the downfall of the Comyns, the Clan bonded itself to and intermarried with the incoming Clan Chattan and was later weakened by clan feuding.