DIXON Geneaology


This clan is descended from Mr. Keith’s Earls Marshall, son of the most powerful family in Scotland where, with the sole exception of the Royal family, the title of Earl was the highest in the kingdom, and who had so many possessions that it was formerly said that they could journey from the north to the south of Scotland and sleep every night in one of their own castles. This descent is proved by no less than three entries in the records of the Lyon Office between the years 1672 – 1694.

It was first registered in 1672 after an act ordered all the nobility and gentry to registered their armorial bearings (some did but some considered it not necessary because they were so well known), “Mr. Robert Dickson, Advocate, descended of ye familie of ye Earl Marshall bears.”

Nisbet, in his Heraldry of Edinburgh, say the Dicksons are descended from one Richard Keith, son of the family of Keith’s – Earls Marshall of Scotland, and in proof carry in their arms the Chief of Keigh Marisehal; Richard, called “Dick”, and his sons carry this prefix in the family name. Richard, son of the Great Marshal Harvey de Keth, who died in 1249, by his wife Margaret, daughter of William, 3rd Lord Douglas. The paternal and maternal arms of these families have been combined to form the arms of the Dickson Clan. “Dicksons” of Buchtrig bore the chief of the Keiths with the Douglas Mullets in base, a perfect specimen of composed arms.

Thomas Dickson, Laird of Synopston and Heslesede County Lanark, and Castellane of Douglas, son of Dick de Keth, was born 1247 AD and is the grandson of the a foresaid Henry de Keth, was also a second cousin of William, 7th Lord Douglas, father of Sir James, 8th Lord Douglas, to both of whom Dickson was certainly a trusted friend.

England and Austria were fighting France. During the Reign of Henry VIII, Pope Julius 11, who had been besieged by a French force in Rome, had excommunicated the entire French army, and now grew a beard, an adornment then out of fashion, and swore he would not shave until he was revenged on the King of France. Henry, not to be outdone, also grew a beard. It was auburn, like his hair. He arranged to hire the Emperor Maximilian, with the Imperial Artillery and the greater part of the Austrian army, to serve under the royal standard of England. The emperor, we are told, was requested to spread his standards but refused to do so, saying he would be the servant, for the campaign, of the King and St. George.

These arrangements, though costly, were brilliantly successful. Under Henry’s command, the English with their Austrian mercenaries, routed the French in August 1513 at the Battle of the Spurs, so named because of the rapidity of the French retreat.

 The Scots were aligned with France and in the King’s absence had crossed the Tweed in September and invaded England with an army of fifty thousand men. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, Son of Richard III’s Duke of Norfolk, slain at Bosworth, and still under the family retainer, was nonetheless entrusted with the command. This skilful veteran, the only experienced general left in England after Dorset’s failure, knowing every inch of the ground, did not hesitate to march around the Scottish army, and although outnumbered by two to one, placed himself between the Scots and Edinburgh. At Flodden Field a bloody battle was fought on September 9, 1513.

Both Armies faced their homeland. The whole of Scotland, Highland and Lowland alike, drew out with their retainers in the traditional schiltrons, or circles of spearmen, and around the standard of their King. The English archers once again directed upon these redoubtable masses a long, intense, and murderous arrow storm. Moreover, the bills or axes in the hands of English infantry were highly effective against the Scottish spears in hand-to-hand assault, while the English cavalry awaited the chance of piercing the gaps caused by the slaughter. When night fell the flower of the Scottish chivalry lay in their ranks where they had fought and among them was King James IV and Robert Dickson. This was the last great victory gained by the longbow. In Scotland a year-old child succeeded to the throne as James V. Ms mother, the Regent, was Henry’s sister Margaret, and peace now descended on the Scottish border for the greater part of the reign. (Churchill, Winston S., A History of the English Speaking People: The New World Vol 2, pp. 35-37, Barnes & Noble Books.)

In 1557 AD a descendent, Robert Dickson, in (or of) Bouchtrig, and Elizabeth McDowell, his wife, had a charter from the King and Queen, of the lands of Bouchtrig and lands in Lethame Dec. 27, 1565 and on July 8, 1566 the same were confirmed to Robert Dickson, Eldest Son and Heir of Robert Dickson of Bouchtrig. The Charter recognized his claims to previous ownership of lands and is similar to the meaning of the German “Von”.

John Dickson – Merchant of Glasgow, Scotland, was of a religious character and was possessor of considerable wealth. His son, Rev. David Dickson was born 1583. He was educated at the Univ.ersity of Glasgow – where he was Professor until 1641. There he earned a Doctorate of Divinity. He transferred to the University of Edinburgh where he remained until 1651, when he was appointed Minister of Ireland. He was said to be the greatest of the three ministers.

Dr. David Dickson repudiated the five articles of Perth as issued by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1618. He won for this much persecution as well as great honor. “Dr. Dickson was preeminent as a great scholar, preacher, ‘Worthy Scotchman’ as his biography and writings show.” Seven of his works – issued by a committee of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland are in the possession of Rev. David Craig Stewart of Hoboken, N.Y. Dr. David Dickson died in 1663

Rev. David Dickson 1583 – 1662 Church leader and Covenanter. The son of a wealthy Glasgow merchant, Dickson was educated at the University of Glasgow. Soon after graduation, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at Glasgow and worked alongside Robert Blair (1583 – 1666). At that time it was expected that University staff worked for only eight years before being ordained into Ministry and thus Dickson progressed to preach in Irvine from 1618. He took great exception to the Five Articles of Perth and, in 1622, was called to account before a commission including Archbishops James Law (1560 – 1632) and John Spottiswoode (1565 – 1639). Dickson was imprisoned in Turriff. He was released the following year and returned to Irvine.

He continued to work against the system of Bishops which had been imposed by Charles I. Like many others, he signed the National Covenant in 1638, then he took a leading role in the General Assembly held in Glasgow in the same year and was elected Moderator of the General Assembly held in 1639 in Edinburgh. In 1641, he had accepted the position of Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow and by 1650, he had moved to a similar position in Edinburgh. On the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, Dickson refused to take the Oath of Supremacy and was ejected from his University position in 1662. He died shortly thereafter.

Dickson wrote various commentaries on the Bible, together with theological works and religious poetry
The Five Articles of Perth were five episcopal and Roman Catholic worship practices that were forced on the church by king James VI in 1618. The articles were accepted by Parliament in 1621 and became the law of the land, but many of the people were very unhappy with them.

The five articles were:

1. Kneeling rather than sitting at the Lord’s Supper. 

2. Private Communion.

3. Baptism not withheld longer than one Lord’s Day and administered privately where necessary (ie if the baby was about to die).

4. Confirmation by bishops.

5. The observance of holy days such as Christmas and Easter.

In opposition to this, the Reformed church believed that kneeling at communion made it like the Roman Catholic mass, baptism wasn’t needed for salvation, there was no need for bishops or confirmation by them and that the only holy day that the New Testament church was meant to observe was the weekly Lord’s Day.

Some of the ministers who refused to accept the Five Articles, such as David Dickson, were removed from their churches. Others were put in prison. The Five Articles were condemned and repealed by the Glasgow Assembly of 1638.

Robert Dickson
(David 2, John 1). He was born at Irvine about 1630, the youngest son of the Rev. David and Margaret (Roberton) Dickson. In early manhood he identified himself with the Presbyterian party of Scotland, and… [eventually] …fled from Ayrshire in December, 1666, as previously noted, settled in the province of Ulster. In neither the records nor the traditions of the family has the name of the county or of the town in which he located been preserved, but it is believed that Antrim was the county. About 1670 he was married in Ireland to Priscilla, daughter of Hugh Kennedy, according to family tradition. Prior to 1700 Robert died, and was survived by several children, the names of only four of whom, however, have been preserved. “: 4. i. David, b. about 1673; d._____ 5. ii. Robert, b. about 1675; d. _____ 6. iii. Archibald, b. about 1677; d. _____ 7. iv. John , b. 1679; d. 6 May, 1759 “ Early in 1719, in company with a number of their friends and neighbors, the brothers Robert, Archibald and John named above emigrated with their families from the North of Ireland, and a few weeks later landed at Boston, Mass.

It is the youngest son, John, the Grandson of the Rev David, who emigrated to this country in 1719 and settled near his brother in Killingly, Windham, Connecticut, where he married and raised his children. Much of this was for religious freedom. England under Charles I had been in conflict with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. This lead to Grandfathers’s move from Ayshire to Glasgow to Edinburg during the reigns of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, and Charles II, and his eventual arrest. His son had fled Scotland in 1666 and settled in Northern Ireland, probably Antrim.

In 1724 John Dixson bought land in the area of New London from the Mohegan Indians and various landowners. Then he moved his family “to Colchester, in the north-west corner of New London county, where his brother Robert was living…” Then in Feb 1726 he moved again and purchased more land near his property in New London witnessed by his nephew John, son of his brother Robert. “Shortly thereafter John Dixson removed from Colhester to the North Parish of new London, and 3 May, 1726, he was married by the Rev. Eliphalet Adams, pastor of The First Church of Christ in New London… to Anna (b. 5 July, 1693), eldest child of Joseph and Katharine Lester of New London. Joseph Lester (b. 15 June, 1664; d. in May, 1728) was one of the sons of Andrew and Ann Lester, early settlers in New London.”

John Dixson was married three times. He had several children with his third wife, Janet Jane Kennedy, the youngest son was Capt William Dixon, who is our descendant. He took part as Military Officer during the Revolutionary War. In 1782 he was a Representative to the General Assembly of Connecticut. He married Pricilla Dennison and they had four children. His oldest child was Senator Nathan Fellows Dixon.

DIXON, Nathan Fellows, (father of Nathan Fellows Dixon [1812-1881] and grandfather of Nathan Fellows Dixon [1847-1897]), a Senator from Rhode Island; born in Plainfield, Conn., December 13, 1774; attended Plainfield Academy and graduated from the College of Rhode Island (now Brown University) in 1799; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1801 and commenced practice in New London County, Conn.; moved to Westerly, R.I., in 1802 and continued the practice of law; also engaged in banking, serving as president of the Washington Bank of Westerly from 1829 until his death; member, State house of representatives 1813-1830; served as a colonel in the State militia; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1839, until his death in Washington, D.C., January 29, 1842; chairman, Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Twenty-seventh Congress); interment in River Bend Cemetery, Westerly, Washington County, R.I

Nathan Fellows Dixon married Elizabeth Betsey Palmer and they had seven children. Nathan Fellows Dixon, II also served as a state senator to Congress. They had seven children. Courtland Palmer Dixon, the youngest son born in 1817, is my great grand father.

CP Dixon married Hannah Elizabeth Williams
, of the Stonington, Ct Williams family. A lot of Ephraims, but no relationship to Williams College! They had seven children that survived infancy.

Courtland Palmer Dixon (1817-1883) was born in New York, the son of Nathan Fellows Dixon (1774-1842), a Rhode Island Senator and the brother of Nathan Fellows Dixon II (1812-1881), who served in Congress from 1849-1851. Courtland lived in the South – both at Vicksburg and New Orleans – from 1841 to 1845, at which time he returned to New York. Upon his return to New York, he began securing contracts for granite from quarries he had interest in, and eventually helped supply stone for several public buildings, including the Charleston Custom House, the New Orleans Custom House, the United States Treasury Building, and post offices in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. When Dixon was living in Vicksburg in the early 1840s, he was close to Brierfield Plantation in Warren County, which was where Jefferson Davis was living at the time. Dixon may have become acquainted with Davis during this time, and certainly knew Robert J. Walker, who was a close friend of Davis as well as a Senator from Mississippi and the US Secretary of the Treasury from 1845-1849. It was Walker who selected the site for the New Orleans Custom House and approved the building’s design in 1847 for construction to begin in 1848

Back in the early fifties Horace Beals, of New York, accepted Dix Island in lieu of a bad debt, remarking facetioiisly at the time that it would make an ideal spot to commit suicide. Little did he realize that the magic wand of fortune would be so waved above this little pile of barren reefs as to transform it into a veritable kingdom of Croesus. Little did he dream that his little granite isle, so remote from the pathways of the world, would duplicate the fable of King Midas. The exigencies of reconstruction following the civil war were the controlling influences which caused Dame Fortune to smile so benignantly upon Dix Island, transformit into a flourishing community such as had not existed on the coast of New England and surely which has not been equaled since. The Government wanted materials for enormous building enterprises, and it was extremely indifferent as to what it paid for them provided they were received in a hurry. The first contract fulfilled by the Dix Island Granite Company, a company formed in New York with Edward Learned, of Pittsfield, Mass., as president, and Courtland P. Dixon, of Brooklyn, as manager and treasurer, was for the Charlestown Custom House. This contract was followed by a two year period of inactivity, and it was believed that the Dix Island boom was of merely an ephemeral nature. Then along came the New York Post Office contract, accompanied by almost incredibly lucrative prospects. In addition to paying for cutting and all other expenses, the Government gave the company a 15 per cent bonus on the gross costs. Money poured freely into the coffers of the Dix Island Granite Company. Father Knickerbocker wanted his post office in a hurry, which made necessary an influx of quarry men and cutters which rapidly outgrew the inadequate housing facilities on the island. As a result two boardhouses were erected at Government expense, called the Shamrock and the Aberdeen, which were capable of accommodating I,0()0 men. Exceedingly appropriate names, these, since most of the men hailed from either Scotland or Ireland. The men were of hardy stock who had worked in the marble hills of Carrara and in the quarries of Dumfries and Dalbeattie—men accustomed to long hours and small pay—who found themselves transported to an environment of opulence, where eight hours constituted a day’s work and where astonishingly high wages were the accepted thing. With 1,485 men on the payroll, representing an aggregate of $106,000 a month, it can be readily inferred that something was”

Courtland Palmer Dixon, II was my grandfather. He married Marie Louise Polhemus, my grandmother, which brings in the Polhemus/Van Wyck ancestry. They lived in New York City but had a large estate in Ridgefield, Ct which was sold in the early 1940’s. I have memories of my Aunt, Gusseus, arriving in Tyringham in the big Packard with HUGE running boards, and my being able to ride on the running boards to Lee. He died before I was born, and I remember Grandmother visits which I do not think were very comfortable!

My Grandmothers father was Theodorus Polhemus. Her mother was Maria Tiebout Van Wyck. There were several intermarriages between the Polhmus family and the Van Wyck family. Theodorus Polhemus father was also Theodorus and Maria mother was Cornelia Theodorus Polhemus, brother and sister. Her father was Jacob Griffen Van Wyck. They spent their lives in Brooklyn living in the Polhemus House in Gowans. He was co partner of Brinkerhouse and Polhemus, a successful cotton trading company. They had six children, my grandmother was the youngest.

To trace the Van Wycks, Maria’s father was Jacob Griffen Van Wyck. He was born in 1791 in Hopewell New York and was married to Cornelia Polhemus in China in 1814. He died at age 37. His father was Theodorus R Van Wyck, born in Fishkill in 1761, and lived there all his life. He died at age 77. He married Hannah Griffen in 1765. They had three children. His father was Richard Van Wyck, first cousin of Theodorus Van Wyck, MD., who also was born and lived in Fishkill. He married Barbara Coert Van Voorhees whose sister, Mary Coert had first married Petrus Du Bois and then Theodorus Van Eyck.

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