Paterson is a Scottish form of "Patrick's Son" or "Patrickson", and is one of the most common of Scottish surnames. This popular surname boasts no less than 10 coat of arms and has several variations in spelling, which often makes it difficult to research. These variations are sometimes present even between father and son. It was not uncommon for one to be born with one spelling, married with another, and have yet another version appearing on the headstone. These changes in spelling were sometimes associated with religion, or clan loyalty.
Paterson is a patronymic form of the male given name Pat or Pate, itself a short form of Patrick. Patrick derives ultimately from the Latin word "Patricius", patrician, or "Son of a Nobel Father."
Patrick has been chiefly used in Ireland and Scotland, but was widespread in the North of England from the 12th Century, giving rise to a number of surnames including: Patrickson, Pate(s), Paty, Paton, Patten, Patti(n)son and Pat(t)erson. Its popularity in these parts was largely due to St. Patrick, 5th Century Apostle of Ireland. The original territory of the Clan Pheadirean (Patersons) lay on the north side of Lochfyne where they were formerly numerous.