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

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

The ancient Scottish name McCrea is carried by the descendents of the Pictish people. It was a name for a prosperous person. The Gaelic form of the surname McCrea is Mac Rath, which literally means son of grace or son of prosperity.

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When the first dictionaries were invented in the last few hundred years, spelling gradually became standardized. Before that time, scribes spelled according to sound. Names were often recorded under different spelling variations every time they were written. McCrea has been written MacCrae, MacCraith, MacCrath, MacCraw, MacCray, MacCrea, MacCree, MacCreight, MacCrie, MacReagh, MacRae, MacRay, MacRie and many more.

First found in Inverness-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) divided between the present day Scottish Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles, and consisting of a large northern mainland area and various island areas off the west coast, the shire was anciently both a Pictish and Norwegian stronghold, but their ancient history is often clouded with conjecture. It appears certain that they lived before the 14th century at Clunes, to the west of Inverness in the territories of the Fraser Clan. Consequently the family has always been friendly towards that Clan. From about 1400, they moved to the location with which they are readily associated, Kintail.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCrea research. Another 1095 words(78 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1539, 1539, 1688, 1745, 1425, 1505, 1477, 1505, 1715, 1764 and 1778 are included under the topic Early McCrea History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 353 words(25 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCrea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McCrea family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 105 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The crossing to North America did not seem so great in comparison with the hardships many Scots endured at home. It was long, expensive, and cramped, but also rewarding. North America offered land and the chance for settlers to prove themselves in a new place. And many did prove themselves as they fought to forge a new nation in the American War of Independence. The ancestors of those Scots can now experience much of their once-lost heritage through the Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up across North America in the last century. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of McCrea:

McCrea Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Hugh McCrea, who arrived in New York in 1774
  • William McCrea, who landed in Frederick County, Maryland in 1796

McCrea Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Philip McCrea, who landed in Allekny (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Robert McCrea, aged 30, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803
  • Eliza McCrea, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Jane McCrea, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1817
  • James McCrea, who arrived in Mississippi in 1840


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  • Phil McCrea (b. 1948), American president of the National Association of Biology Teachers
  • Joel Albert McCrea (1905-1990), American film actor
  • Joel Albert McCrea (1905-1990), American actor who appeared in over 90 films, best known for his starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1940), and The Virginian
  • Joel Dee "Jody" McCrea (1934-2009), American film and television actor, son of Joel Albert McCrea
  • John McCrea (b. 1965), American founding member of the band Cake
  • James McCrea (1907-1912), American businessman, 8th President of the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • Phil McCrea (b. 1948), American former President of the National Association of Biology Teachers
  • Francis William McCrea (1896-1981), American Major League Baseball catcher who played for the Cleveland Indians in the 1925 season
  • Jay Nash McCrea (1887-1959), American cyclist at the 1904 Summer Olympics
  • John McCrea (b. 1966), British comic book artist born in Dublin

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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: Fortitudine
Motto Translation: With fortitude.

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  1. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  2. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  6. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  8. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  9. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  10. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  11. ...

The McCrea Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McCrea 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 9 July 2013 at 12:17.

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