Alister’s Early Life Memoires

The following article was first published in the January 2005 issue of the newsletter of CDS-USA, The Sporran

Article Introduction by The Sporran’s editor, Sennachie Dave Chagnon

New Zealand, Pacific Ocean Lo-ResA few months ago I received a letter from Mary Davidson, the energetic spouse to the Clan’s Chief, Alister (Jock) Davidson of Davidston. We had exchanged letters last year dealing with a number of subject areas and Mary was tying up some loose ends. Out of the blue, Mary informs me that Jock had been chipping away at writing his memoirs. This might be too fanciful a term… let’s say Jock was attempting to put the bare bones of his rather interesting life to paper, or the electronic equivalent at any rate.

She then floored me with her next question: would I like a copy for The Sporran? To a Scottish Clan newsletter writer this is tantamount to asking a man lost in the desert for 6 months if he’d like a cold beer. “Yes”! I replied, with less than a nanosecond’s thought.

And so it came to pass. Jock is quite tight with his words, spending each one as if it were cast in 24 carat gold. I was asked to “jazz it up” but in all honesty I found the very simplicity of Jock’s prose most compelling. I told Mary I wouldn’t change a word of it other than to correct a few typos and to add some explanation of New Zealand words which would otherwise be a mystery to The Sporran’s readers. Here, then, is the story of the early years of our Clan Chief, Alister Guthrie Davidson of Davidston, as told in his own words.

[I have added notes in italicized brackets to explain what some of the New Zealand terms mean.]

The Beginning

My Grandfather was born in Scotland. Little is known of his early life. It appears that the family at some time lived in Belgium. We understand that the family were in financial strife and went to Belgium to escape the creditors. Grandfather came out to New Zealand in approximately 1880, where he settled in a small township called Otaki. Here he met and married my Grandmother in 1883. Three sons were born. They were Jack, Tom and Bill. The family lived and farmed in Pahiatua, in the Wairarapa. Jack married and he had a family of two – Duncan and Dorothy [Duncan was the Clan Davidson Chief recognized by the Lyon Court in 1996. Jock became Chief upon the death of his cousin Duncan in 1997]. Tom was killed when a teenager in a bicycle accident. Bill, my father, married in 1922. Wendela, his wife, came from Danniverke, in the Hawkes Bay area.