Names of Interest

Family Surname History – Matheson

Unofficial Guide to How to Find Your Family History on the No.1 Genealogy Website

This series Family Surname History is really interesting as I learn more about my family surnames.  Today I am introducing the family surname Matheson.  Robert Matheson was my maternal grandmother’s grandfather.




Family Surname History – Matheson

Matheson has its origins in biblical times with Matthew meaning “Gift of God”.1  It is Hebrew in origin, however, was introduced to Britain following the Norman Conquests in 1066.1  Matheson was adopted as the English spelling of the name but many variants exist today including Mathieson, Mathewson, Mathison, and Mathisen.2


Distribution of Matheson

Matheson Surname Distribution Worldwide
Matheson Surname Distribution Worldwidea

According to Forebears, the surname Matheson is the 16,517th most common name in the world with 31,807 people with this surname.2   It is most prevalent in the United States with 9,804 recorded instances there.2  The other countries rounding out the top 5 are: Canada – 7,795, Australia – 4,332, England – 2,791, and Scotland – 2,225.2




Matheson Surname Distribution Scotland
Matheson Surname Distribution Scotlandb

In Scotland, where my Matheson family originates, it ranks at 381 in surnames in the country with only 2,225 people having this surname.2  What I find very interesting is that despite this surname being of Scottish origins, that it is only fifth in the world with people with this name.  The United States has nearly 4 times the number of people with this surname.


In 1891 Scotland, Matheson was most commonly found in the Ross and Cromarty region with 1,351 instances of the surname, followed by Inverness-shire – 819 instances, and Sutherland – 557 instances.2  The Matheson’s I have found in my tree are from the Dornoch region in Sutherland.



Meaning of the Surname Matheson

Matheson is a patronymic surname, that is it is derived from being the son of Matthew.1  The surname was first noted in Scotland in the 12th Century when it is noted that “Robertus filius (son of) Mathei witnessed a charter in Scotland in 1177“.1  The Aberdeen Episcopal Register in 1446 names a witness, William Matheson.1


Famous Matheson’s

Richard Matheson I am Legend
Richard Mathesonc

George Matheson (1842-1906)- Scottish minister and hymn writer who went blind in his youth.3

Richard Matheson (1926-2013) – Author, Screenwriter with I am Legend (1954) and The Shrinking Man (1956) being among his most popular novels.4

Karen Matheson (Born 1963) – Scottish folk singer who sings in Scottish Gaelic and is part of the Celtic group, Capercaillie.5,6



Do you have the surname Matheson in your family history?  Do you know where your family name originated from?  

Click the below image to search on Findmypast today!

1. Surname Database, ‘Last Name: Matheson’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
2. Forebears, ‘Matheson Surname Meaning & Statistics’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
3. Wikipedia, ‘George Matheson,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
4. Biography, ‘Richard Matheson’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
5. Wikipedia, ‘Karen Matheson’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
6. Karen Matheson,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
Image Credits
a. Surname Distribution,’Matheson Surname Distribution Worldwide’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
b. Matheson Surname Distribution Scotland’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.
c. The Eighty Sixth Floor, ‘Richard Matheson’,, Accessed 27 May 2018.


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