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

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

On the Scottish west coast, the McSorley family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the personal name Somhairle, also known as Somerled. The Gaelic form of the name, Mac Somhairle, translates as son of Somhairle or son of Somerled.

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In various documents McSorley has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. MacSorley, MacSorely, MacSourly, MacCoullie, MacSorrill, MacSorrell, MacSurley and many more.

First found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, 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 Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McSorley research. Another 245 words(18 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McSorley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early McSorley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McSorley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 157 words(11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Significant portions of the populations of both the United States and Canada are still made up of the ancestors of Dalriadan families. Some of those in Canada originally settled the United States, but went north as United Empire Loyalists in the American War of Independence. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the ancestors of many Scots on both sides of the border begin to recover their collective national heritage through Clan societies and highland games. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

McSorley Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • John McSorley, who landed in America in 1811
  • James McSorley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1817
  • T McSorley, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Ann McSorley, aged 11, landed in New York in 1854
  • Sarah McSorley, aged 9, arrived in New York in 1854

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  • Erne St Michael McSorley (1912-1975), captain of the ill-fated freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald which sank with all hands in Lake Superior
  • Martin James "Marty" McSorley (b. 1963), former professional NHL hockey player
  • Gerard McSorley (b. 1950), Irish character actor
  • Tom McSorley, Canadian film critic
  • John McSorley, founder of the Irish landmark pub "McSorley's Old Ale House", New York City, in 1854


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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 and by land.

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  1. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The McSorley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McSorley 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 23 February 2014 at 14:25.

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