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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McCoy family come from? What is the Scottish McCoy family crest and coat of arms? When did the McCoy family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McCoy family history?

In ancient Scotland, the ancestors of the McCoy family were part of a tribe called the Picts. The name McCoy is derived from the personal name Aodh, a cognate of Hugh. The Gaelic form of the name is usually Mac Aoidh and in Inverness, the Gaelic form of the name McCoy is Mac Ai.

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The arts of spelling and translation were yet in their infancies when surnames began, so there are an enormous number of spelling variations of the names in early Scottish records. This is a particular problem with Scottish names because of the numerous times a name might have been loosely translated to English from Gaelic and back. McCoy has been spelled MacKay, MacCay, MacQuey, MacQuoid, MacKaw, MacKy, MacKye, MacCoy, McCoy and many more.

First found in Sutherland (Gaelic: Cataibh), a former county in northern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Highland, where early records show that Gilcrest M'Ay, forefather of the MacKay family of Ugadale, made a payment to the constable of Tarbert in 1326. It is claimed that the Clan is descended from the royal house of MacEth.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCoy research. Another 597 words(43 lines of text) covering the years 1408, 1411, 1429, 1329, 1506, 1575, 1873, 1940, 1640, 1692, 1689, 1726 and 1692 are included under the topic Early McCoy History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 97 words(7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCoy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McCoy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 253 words(18 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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This oppression forced many Scots to leave their homelands. Most of these chose North America as their destination. Although the journey left many sick and poor, these immigrants were welcomed the hardy with great opportunity. Many of these settlers stood up for their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. More recently, Scots abroad have recovered much of their collective heritage through highland games and other patriotic functions and groups. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has located various settlers bearing the name McCoy:

McCoy Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Donald McCoy, who arrived in South Carolina in 1716
  • John McCoy, who landed in South Carolina in 1716
  • Paul McCoy, who arrived in Virginia in 1716
  • Denis McCoy and his wife Catharine, who were colonists in Amelia county, Virginia in 1719
  • Cormack McCoy, who arrived in New York in 1738


McCoy Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Daniel McCoy, who landed in Ohio in 1803
  • Bryan McCoy, aged 32, landed in New York in 1812
  • Dennis McCoy, aged 34, landed in New York in 1812
  • Neil McCoy, aged 32, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Patrick McCoy, aged 16, landed in Buffalo, NY in 1827


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  • Joseph McCoy (1837-1915), American 19th century cattle baron, frequently cited as the inspiration for the phrase "The Real McCoy"
  • William Frederick McCoy (d. 1948), American sea captain and smuggler during the U.S. Prohibition Era, famous for never watering his booze
  • Major General Robert Bruce McCoy (1867-1926), American officer in the National Guard in the early 20th century awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and Croix de guerre during World War I
  • Charlie McCoy (b. 1941), American musician
  • Colt McCoy (b. 1986), American football quarterback
  • Al McCoy (1894-1966), American middleweight champion boxer
  • Timothy John Fitzgerald "Tim" McCoy (1891-1978), American actor so popular with youngsters as a cowboy star that he appeared on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes
  • Major-General Frank Ross McCoy (1874-1954), American Commanding General 2nd Army (1935-1936)
  • Kansas Joe McCoy (1905-1950), American Delta blues musician and songwriter
  • Horace McCoy (1897-1955), American writer, best known for his They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) which was later made into a movie 14 years after his death

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  • Squirrel Huntin' Sam McCoy by Hobert McCoy.
  • The McCoys by Truda Williams McCoy.
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Manu forti
Motto Translation: With a strong hand.

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  1. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  2. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  3. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  11. ...

The McCoy Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McCoy Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 25 February 2014 at 14:47.

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