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

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

On the Scottish west coast, the McTavish family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the personal name Tammas, which is the Lowland Scottish form of Thomas. The Gaelic forms of the name are Mac Tamhais or Mac Thamhais, both of which mean son of Tammas.


In various documents McTavish has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. MacTavish, McTavish, MacTaffish, McTaffish 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 the first recorded Chief was MacGilla Tamhais whose name became anglicized as MacIltavish. A later chief, Collen, called the 'good bald Colin' of Dunardarie, son of Gillespick, was directly descended from the Tavish Corr. Although it is reasonably clear that the Clan was settled in Craignish well before 800 AD, the historical records show little of their activities or family relationships. Although many historians list this Clan as a sept of the Campbells, and others claim that a relationship to the Frasers existed, there is no good reason to suppose these relationships were the result of anything other than geographical proximity. There has also been some confusion between the MacTavishes and the MacThomas. Here also, the relationship is tenuous - the Thomsons being a separate Border Clan with its own Chief at that time. The Chief of the MacTavishes is considered to be the MacTavish of Dunardrie.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McTavish research. Another 527 words(38 lines of text) covering the years 1355, 1858, 1997, 1755 and 1815 are included under the topic Early McTavish History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 65 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McTavish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the McTavish family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 79 words(6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


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:

McTavish Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Simon McTavish, who arrived in New York in 1764
  • Elizabeth McTavish, who came to New York in 1765
  • Elizabeth McTavish, who landed in New York in 1765
  • Simon McTavish, who landed in New York in 1765
  • Donald McTavish, who arrived in Albany, NY between 1772-1790

McTavish Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • James McTavish, who settled in New York in 1822
  • Isabella McTavish, who arrived in Boston in 1849
  • Mr. McTavish, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850


  • Patrick McTavish (b. 1990), American child actor
  • Devon McTavish (b. 1984), American soccer player
  • Megan McTavish (b. 1949), American television actress and soap opera writer
  • Graham McTavish (b. 1961), Scottish television actor
  • John Kay McTavish (1885-1926), Scottish footballer
  • Robert 'Bob' McTavish (1888-1972), Scottish professional footballer
  • Rachel McTavish, British freelance broadcast journalist and presenter
  • Simon McTavish (1750-1804), Scots-Quebecer entrepreneur and the pre-eminent businessman in Canada
  • Dale B. McTavish (b. 1972), Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • Gordon McTavish (b. 1954), former Canadian professional ice hockey centre



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: Non oblitus
Motto Translation: Do Not Forget Me after Death.


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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  8. 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.
  9. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  10. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  11. ...

The McTavish Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McTavish 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 18 March 2013 at 21:57.

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