The clan takes its name from its traditional estates, the Barony of Erskine (literally "green rising ground") in Renfrewshire. The family developed close links with the Scottish royal family, when a daughter of Sir John de Erskine married the brother of Robert the bruce. Several clansmen reached high office in the 14th century, when Sir Robert de Erskine was appointed Great Chamberlain of Scotland and Constable of the royal castle of Stirling. Other signs of royal approval were soon apparent. The Erskines were chosen as guardians to both James IV and James V, as well as the infant Mary Queen of Scots. She rewarded her protector - John, the 6th Lord - by bestowing upon him the ancient earldom of Mar.
Farquhar is a Scottish variant of Fearchar ("the dear one"), a popular Gaelic forename. More specifically, the clan is descended from Farquhar, the fourth son of Alexander Ciar (Shaw) of Rothiemurchus, a family that belonged to the Clan Chattan Federation. The Farquharsons developed a more individual reputation in the 16th century, when Finlay Mor gained fame as the royal standard bearer at the Battle of Pinkie (1547). This explains the family's Gaelic name, Clann Fhionnlaidh.> Later generations of the clansmen also became known for their military prowess. The most celebrated of these was John Farquharson of Inveraray, a prominent Jacobite rebel, who was popularly dubbed "the Black Colonel."
Fergus was an extremely common name in the Celtic world, so it is hardly surprising that several different ancestors have been suggested for this ancient clan. The most distinguished contenders are Fergus mac Erc, the traditional founder of Dalriada, and a 12th century Prince of Galloway, who built Dundrennan Abbey. In more concrete, historical terms, the oldest known branch of the family came from Kilkerran in Ayrshire. They had acquired lands in this region by the 12th century and, in 1314, John, son of Fergus, witnessed a charter for Edward bruce. The Fergusons of Dunfallandy also have a long pedigree. They hailed from Atholl, but were well established in Perthshire by the 16th century.
This is a territorial name, which ultimately derives from the Gaelic word for forba> ("a field"). Historically, the ancestor of the clan was probably Duncan Forbes, who held the family's traditional estates in Aberdeenshire, during the reign of Alexander III (1249 - 1286). However, the clan also maintains a colourful legend, which argues that their ancestor was an ancient Celt called Ochonochar, who earned his position by slaying a giant bear that had killed nine maidens. This may be a folk memory of an early tribal ritual, since the animal was sacred to the Celts and there is evidence that a bear divinity was venerated in pre-Christian Scotland.
The origins of this name is uncertain. The popular explanation is that it comes from Fearsithe>, the Gaelic word for a "man of peace," and that it was initially applied to a churchman. alternatively, it may well derive from a place name. Robert de Fauside was a signatory of the Ragman Rolls in 1296 and his son, Osbert, was granted land at Sauchie in Stirlingshire (1306). He later fought alongside Robert the bruce at Bannockburn (1314). The person who did most to perpetuate the glory of the family name, however, was the horticulturalist, William Forsyth (1737 - 1804). His writings on the subject proved so popular that the colourful Forsythia> shrub was named after him.
Most authorities reckon that the Frasers came from France. Various places in Normandy and Anjou have been suggested, most notably Fresles and Freseliere, and there is an ingenious theory that their name originated as a pun on a strawberry (fraise> in French), featured in a Norman coat of arms. The earliest documentary reference is to Simon Fraser, who made an endowment to the Abbey of Kelso in 1160. In later years, the two main branches of the family were the Philorth and Lovat lines. The latter produced the most notorious of all the Frasers: Simon, the 11th Lord, who became known as the "Old Fox of the '45." After Culloden, he was captured and beheaded on Tower Hill, the last man in britain to suffer this cruel fate.