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

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

The sea-swept Hebrides islands and the west coast of Scotland, made up the ancient Dalriadan kingdom, the ancestral home of the McAlister family. Their name comes from the given name Alexander, which in turn was originally derived from the Greek name, which means defender of men. In the late 11th century, Queen Margaret introduced the name, which she had heard in the Hungarian Court where she was raised, into Scotland by naming one of her sons Alexander. The popularity of the name Alexander was ensured by the fact that it was born by three Scottish kings, the first being Margaret's son who succeeded to the throne of Scotland following the death of Malcolm III.

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Many spelling variations of McAlister have been recorded over the years, including These are the result of the medieval practice of spelling according to sound and repeated translation between Gaelic and English. Alexander, Alistair, MacAlexander, Alisandre, Alischoner, Alsinder, Alastair, MacAlexter, Callestar, Aleckander, Alexandri, Alisdair, Alaisder, Alestare, Alistare and many more.

First found in Kintyre, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McAlister research. Another 925 words(66 lines of text) covering the years 1230, 1295, 1475, 1602, 1200, 1605, 1615, 1765, 1846, 1431, 1570, 1640, 1614, 1588, 1655, 1640, 1643, 1619, 1681, 1665, 1681, 1620, 1665, 1660, 1665, 1653, 1686, 1797 and are included under the topic Early McAlister History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 175 words(12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McAlister Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McAlister family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 187 words(13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many who arrived from Scotland settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would go on to become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many settlers who remained loyal to England went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Their descendants later began to recover the lost Scottish heritage through events such as the highland games that dot North America in the summer months. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the McAlister family emigrate to North America:

McAlister Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Archibald McAlister, who arrived in America in 1730
  • Elizabeth McAlister, who arrived in New York, NY in 1738
  • Florence McAlister, who landed in New York in 1738
  • Angus McAlister, who arrived in New York in 1738
  • Charles McAlister, who landed in New York in 1739


McAlister Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • John McAlister, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1801
  • Anthony McAlister, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Hugh McAlister, aged 26, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1834
  • James McAlister, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1854
  • Susan McAlister, aged 30, landed in New York in 1854

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  • Christopher "Chris" James McAlister (b. 1977), American NFL football player
  • Barbara McAlister, American gold medalist diver at the 1963 Pan American Games featured on the cover of the magazine Sports Illustrated
  • Barbara McAlister (b. 1941), Native-American mezzo soprano opera singer
  • Ernie McAlister (b. 1957), American politician, Mayor of Cary, North Carolina from 2003-2007
  • Fred McAlister (1928-2008), American Minor League baseball player and Major League Baseball scout
  • Jim McAlister (b. 1957), American soccer defender
  • Mary Agnes McMackin McAlister CBE (d. 1976), Irish-born, Scottish nurse and politician
  • Jim McAlister (b. 1985), Scottish footballer
  • Harry Hill McAlister (1875-1959), Governor of Tennessee from 1933 to 1937
  • Charles Luke McAlister (b. 1983), New Zealand rugby union footballer

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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: Per mare, per terras
Motto Translation: By sea, by land.

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  1. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  2. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  3. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  5. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  8. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  11. ...

The McAlister Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McAlister 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 24 July 2014 at 23:53.

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