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

Origins Available: English, Irish, Scottish

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

The clans of the Pictish people in ancient Scotland were the ancestors of the first people to use the name Shaw. It was a name for a person who shared some of the qualities attributed to a wolf. Shaw is a nickname surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. The surname Shaw is derived from the Gaelic first name Sithech, which means wolf.


In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Shaw has appeared Shaw, Shawe, Mac Ghille-Sheathanaich (Gaelic) and others.

First found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland, where the family appears to have been firmly entrenched in the Eastern coastal regions well before 1000 AD. While some claim that the Clan originally descended from a MacDuff, one of the ancient Earls of Fife, the first official mention in documents shows them to be present at the General Council held by King Malcolm at Forfar in 1061. However, this ancient leadership was challenged by many other Clans Commyns (Cummings) who had leased the Shaw lands of Rothiemurchus.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shaw research. Another 424 words(30 lines of text) covering the years 1178, 1226, 1405, 1411, 1527, 1608, 1672, 1692, 1751, 1774, 1776, 1799, 1804, 1826, 1832, 1849, and 1876 are included under the topic Early Shaw History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the Shaw family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 137 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Shaw:

  • Aeneas Shaw, Captain of the Queen's Rangers, Michael Shaw, Butlers Rangers, and William Shaw were registered as United Empire Loyalists

Shaw Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Nich Shaw, who arrived in Virginia in 1618
  • Annis Shaw, who landed in Virginia in 1623
  • Anne Shaw settled in Virginia in 1635 along with Richard and William
  • Roger Shaw, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636
  • Abraham Shaw, who landed in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1637

Shaw Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Eliza Shaw, who arrived in Virginia in 1701-1702
  • Ewen Shaw, who arrived in South Carolina in 1716
  • Angus Shaw, who landed in Virginia in 1716
  • Donald Shaw settled in Virginia in 1716
  • Ewen Shaw settled in South Carolina in 1716 along with John

Shaw Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Robert Shaw, who arrived in America in 1801
  • Joseph Shaw, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Jas Shaw, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Nathaniel Shaw, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1806
  • Elijah Shaw, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808


  • Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), English born American suffragist
  • Wilbur Shaw (1902-1954), American 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500 winner
  • Brewster Hopkinson Shaw (b. 1945), former NASA astronaut with 3 shuttle missions and over 533 hours in space
  • Irwin Shaw (1913-1984), American playwright, screenwriter and novelist
  • Russell Lee Shaw (b. 1976), American football wide receiver/defensive back
  • Michael Shaw (1943-2005), American journalist awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1991
  • Glen Byam Shaw (1904-1986), English actor
  • John Liston Byam Shaw (1872-1919), British artist
  • Martin Edward Fallus Shaw OBE, FRCM (1876-1958), English composer
  • George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish Nobel Prize-winning and Academy Award-winning playwright, essayist and critic, eponym of the Shaw Festival, Niagara on the Lake, Canada



  • Beacon Hill's Colonel Robert Gould Shaw by Marion Whitney Smith.
  • Eight Generations of the Family of John Shaw, 1788-1858 and his Wife, Nancy Worthy Shaw, 1788-1846 of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mississippi by William David McCain.
  • Isaac Towell & his Family by Roy H. Towell.

Shaw Clan Badge
Shaw Clan Badge

Buy JPG Image

A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Shaw
Macay, MacGaraidh, MacGhille-Sheathan, MacHay, McGaraidh, McGhille-Sheathan, McHay, Seath, Seth, Sharr, Shaw, Shawe, Sheach, Shew, Shiach and more.


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  1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  6. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  7. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  8. 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).
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  11. ...

The Shaw Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shaw 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 17 October 2014 at 12:34.

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