On the Scottish west coast, the Anderson family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the given name Andrew. The given name Andrew is derived from the Greek name Andreas, which means man or manly.The first reference to the given name Andrew was a monk of Dunfermline, who later became the Bishop of Caithness in the reign of David I. The first references to the surname appeared in the 13th century. In 1296, David le fiz Andreu was recorded as a burgess of Peebles (now part of the Strathclyde and Border regions), and Duncan fiz Andreu of Dumfries was recorded as taking an oath of fealty. The Andersons held territories in Moidart, but later moved to Badenoch in the early 14th century. The most prominent branches of the Andersons were the Dowhills, West Ardbrecks and Candacraigs in Strathdon.
The tradition of scholarly erudition has significant roots in Anderson clan history throughout all the disciplines. This tradition was first established by Alexander Anderson who published works on geometry and algebra in Paris between 1612 and 1619. His cousin, David Anderson of Finshaugh, shared a similar skill in mechanics and mathematics that he applied to removing a large rock that had obstructed the entrance to Aberdeen harbour.
This achievement earned him the nick-name 'Davie-Do-a'-Things.'