If any one person can be singled out as the founder of a breed of livestock, Hugh Watson of Keillor, who lived in the vale of Strathmore in Angus, is worthy of that distinction. If not the first real improver of Aberdeen-Angus cattle, he was certainly the most systematic and successful. Both his father and grandfather had been buyers and breeders of the Angus doddies. The family is known to have owned cattle as early as 1735. Hugh Watson was born in 1789 and, in 1808, at the time he was 19 years of age, he became a tenant at Keillor.
When Hugh Watson started his farming activities at Keillor, he received from his father’s herd six of the best and blackest cows, as well as a bull. That same summer, he visited some of the leading Scottish cattle markets and purchased the 10 best heifers and the best bull that he could find that showed characteristics of the Angus cattle that he was striving to breed. The females were of various colors, but the bull was black; Watson decided that the color of his herd should be black and he started selecting in that direction.