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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

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

The age-old Pictish-Scottish family name MacKey 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 MacKey is Mac Ai.


In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. MacKey has appeared 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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacKey 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 MacKey History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the MacKey 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.


Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name MacKey:

MacKey Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • John Mackey settled in Boston in 1651
  • Sander Mackey settled in Boston in 1651
  • Hill Mackey, who landed in New England in 1651-1652
  • Neile Mackey, who landed in New England in 1651-1652
  • Hugh Mackey, who arrived in America in 1652

MacKey Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Fran Mackey, who arrived in Virginia in 1718
  • Nancy Mackey, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1775
  • Thomas Mackey, who landed in New York in 1784

MacKey Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Saml Mackey, who landed in America in 1806
  • Thomas MacKey, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • James MacKey, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Ellen MacKey, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Daniel MacKey, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811


  • Lance Mackey (b. 1970), American and dog sled racer who is a four-time winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest and four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
  • John Alexander Mackey (1889-1983), Scottish-born American scholar
  • Bill Mackey (1927-1951), American racecar driver
  • George Whitelaw Mackey (1916-2006), American mathematician elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science
  • Steven Mackey (b. 1956), American composer, guitarist, and music educator
  • Charles Mackey (1814-1889), Scottish songwriter
  • Corporal John Bernard Mackey (1922-1945), Australian soldier awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII
  • Steve Mackey (b. 1966), British musician and record producer
  • Moana Lynore Mackey (b. 1974), New Zealand politician


  • The MacKeys (variously spelled) and Allied Families by Beatrice MacKey Doughtie.
  • Record of Robert MacKey and William MacKey and Their Descendants who Lived Mostly in Pennsylvania and/or Maryland by Wilmer MacKey Sanner.

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. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  2. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  3. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  7. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  9. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  11. ...

The MacKey Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacKey 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 13 September 2014 at 17:51.

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