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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McGill family come from? When did the McGill family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McGill family history?

The surname McGill was first used in the Scottish/English Borderlands by an ancient Scottish people called the Strathclyde- Britons. It was a name for someone who lived in Galloway. The McGill surname also comes from the Gaelic patronytmic name Mac an Ghoill, which means "son of the stranger."

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The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years McGill has been spelled MacGill, Magill, Makgill and others.

First found in Galloway (Gaelic: Gall-ghaidhealaibh), an area of southwestern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Dumfries and Galloway, that formerly consisted of the counties of Wigtown (West Galloway) and Kirkcudbright (East Galloway), where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGill research. Another 181 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1231, 1579 and 1734 are included under the topic Early McGill History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 75 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McGill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 179 words(13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

McGill Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Archibald McGill, who landed in North Carolina in 1740
  • Andrew McGill, aged 25, landed in Virginia in 1774
  • James McGill, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1799

McGill Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Robert McGill, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Hugh McGill, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Daniel McGill, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Anthony McGill, who arrived in America in 1811
  • Samuel McGill, who landed in America in 1811


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  • Ralph Waldo Emerson McGill (1898-1969), American journalist, Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper editor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Sergeant Troy A. McGill (1914-1944), American soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Bruce Travis McGill (b. 1950), American actor, best known for his role as Jack Dalton on the television series MacGyver
  • Andrew Ryan McGill (1840-1905), American politician, the tenth Governor of Minnesota (1887-1889)
  • Bill "The Hill" McGill (b. 1939), retired American NBA and ABA basketball player
  • Bryant Harrison McGill (b. 1969), American editor and author from Mobile, Alabama
  • David McGill, American Grammy Award-winning bassoonist
  • John McGill (1809-1872), American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Richmond from 1850 until his death in 1872
  • William James McGill (1922-1997), American psychologist, author and academic administrator
  • James McGill (1744-1813), Scottish-born fur trader and philanthropist, endower and eponym of McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 1829

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  • Four Generation of Charles Magill of Ireland by Donald Gary Magill.
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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  3. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  4. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  5. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  6. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  7. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  8. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  9. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  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. ...


This page was last modified on 5 August 2014 at 12:00.

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