Williamson Family

Background & Chart

Williamson Surname

In Ireland Williamson is almost exclusive to Ulster and is most common in counties Antrim, Derry, Armagh and Tyrone; most will be of Scottish origin.

Descendants of David Williamson

William Williamson was born about 1832 as son to a David Williamson, a storekeeper. It is possible that David had two other children Mary and Isabella, both baptised at First Derry Presbyterian Church to a David Williamson and Catherine Vance. William, a compositor married Elizabeth McConnell, daughter of Alex, a ploughman at First Derry Presbyterian Church on 27th October, 1859. Between them they had 9 children the eldest of which was William Robert Williamson.

William Robert Williamson's Family
written by Reginald Fergusonunless noted otherwise

Back Row: Louis, Noel, Reggie, Bob, Bill
Middle Row: Betty, William, Eva, Jim, Ida, Una
Front Row: John, Noel, Anne, Margaret, Alex
My grandfather, William Robert Williamson, was one of a large family, all of whom I met when I was young. Two of his brothers were coach builders and consequently highly skilled in their trade. Another brother fought in the Bour War. I got my interest in cage birds from them. William Robert spent his career in the newpaper business working for the local paper, the Londonderry Sentenel. He was a machine operator, a compositor, and eventually a reader. he had a good command of the English language and a very wide vocabulary. His failing was that he drank too much and his wife, was left to pick up the pieces. Together they had 7 children.Of these:-
  • James, known as Jim, althogh handicapped with only one leg (the other being amputated above the knee) made a very good living, expanding the business of running a newspaper agents shop into owning the wholesale business for the import of all English newspapers into the city. He eventually sold the wholesale business and retained the shop which was really his life. He was highly intellegent and a very keen chess player. He was the toast of the city when he drew his match with one of the famous Russian masters who visited Londonderry. Most of all, I loved him, because he was my benefactor; he paid for my education at Foyle College Public School and looked after his father in his old age and my mother after my father went to America with his family. Excluding my mother, my Uncle Jim and my Aunt Ida were especially dear to me.
  • Joseph Williamson suffered a tragic accident when he drowned in the River Foyle at a very young age.
  • William R Williamson (3rd from right) with Prince Edward and Lord Aster at The Time Newspaper
  • William Robert Williamson was gifted with words and made great use of his advantage in many ways. He left the Model School at the age of 15 and his mother, conscious of his ability bought him a set of 'Self Educators' which he studied to complete his education. He started work as a journalist with the Belfast Newsletter where he was chosen by management to represent them in London at a conference. It was there that he made himself known to Lord Astor who gave him a job as a reporter on The Times and it was from this position that he rose to be Secretary of the Board. During the troubles in Ireland in the 1919's he was secretary to Lord Roberts and Lord Lectrim and before that he served as an Army Captain in the First World War. It was during the war that he was gassed and he suffered the consequences of the attack for the rest of his life. His wife Una was a very beloved patient woman who tolerated his difficult ways in a saintly fashion. She was a Roman Catholic and ran away form her family in Ireland to London where they married.
  • Eva inherited some of her mothers thrifty ways throughout her long life. Her husband Fred, managed shirt factories in England and Ireland and was an up-and-coming young man when they met in Londonderry and were married. However, despite all his ambitions, he was a gambler by nature and this led to his undoing. He lost many good positions because of his betting on horses and furthermore he was a very difficult man to live with, bearing in mind that Eva too, was a strong character in her own right. Anyway the marriage broke up and Eva returned to Londonderry with her two children, Noel and Alex; Freddie died in his teens from blood cancer, a tragedy from which Eva never really recovered. In many ways she had a hard life with Fred, before that she nursed her mother and later on she nursed my mother and her father. When Jim died she was left alone in Derry and as a result left the town and went to live in Dublin where Bob and Ida Kerr found her a place in St John's Home. Note added by Muriel 'Joyce' Ferguson nee Keogh - Eva had a short but happy second marriage to Gilbert James who had fought in the Great War and was at Dunkirk in the Second War.
  • Elizabeth (written by Murray Ferguson) was by all accounts a gentle lady and a professional pianist. Whilst in her early twenties she met Jim Ferguson, a grocer’s assistant also living in Derry city. By late 1919, Jim and his family, comprising parents and 5 siblings had plans to emigrate to Canada. In December Jim had his passport endorsed for travel. He and his brother John were to form an advance party with the remainder of the family following later. Elizabeth was pregnant by Jim and they were married on 22nd January 1920. Their son Reginald Ferguson was born 3 months later by which time Jim had already left for Canada. It is understood that Elizabeth together with Reginald were due to follow when the remainder of Jim’s family left in the summer of 1920. This was perhaps never realistic. Either way, she never did, and little Reggie grew up with the financial support of Elizabeth’s brother James. Elizabeth had a faulty heart valve and was bedridden for two years before she died in 1940, on Reginald’s 20th birthday.

Family Tree Chart

The family tree can be viewed as a pdf document. Provided you have Adobe Acrobat reader you may view the chart by clicking here.