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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

One of the most common classes of Scottish surnames is the patronymic surname, which arose out of the vernacular and religious naming traditions. The vernacular or regional naming tradition is the oldest and most pervasive type of patronymic surname. According to this custom, names were originally composed of vocabulary elements from the local language. Patronymic surnames of this type were usually derived from the personal name of the original bearer's father. The surname Adair is derived from the given name Edgar, which means prosperity.


The surname Adair was 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). Tradition has it that the foundation of the family of Adair of Dunskey and Kinhilt originated from a fugitive son of Fitzgerald, Earl Desmond of Adair in Ireland. Desmond was descended from Otto Geraldino, a Norman noble who accompanied William, Duke of Normandy into England in 1066. He also accompanied Strongbow into Ireland in 1172, and became Earl of Desmond. He settled in Kirkcudbright and Wigtown.

Scottish surnames are distinguished by a multitude of spelling variations because, over the centuries, the names were frequently translated into and from Gaelic. Furthermore, the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent because medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. The different versions of a surname, such as the inclusion of the patronymic prefix "Mac", frequently indicated a religious or Clan affiliation or even a division of the family. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into Scotland, accelerating accentuating the alterations to various surnames. The name Adair has also been spelled Adair, Odeir, Edzear, Edgar, Adare and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Adair research. Another 47 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1655, 1722, 1688, 1614, 1625, 1694, 1641, 1622, 1630, 1630, 1640, 1641, 1647 and are included under the topic Early Adair History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Adair Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Adair family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 305 words (22 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Adair, or a variant listed above:

Adair Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Adair, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1730
  • William Adair, who landed in America in 1754
  • James Adair settled in Pennsylvania in 1771
  • Ann Adair settled in New York State, in 1774
  • Agnes Adair, aged 25, landed in New York in 1774

Adair Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Edward Adair, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1807
  • Wm Adair, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816
  • A Adair, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • Mr. Adair, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1822
  • Hon John Adair, who arrived in Tennessee in 1827

Adair Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Henderson Adair, who arrived in Arkansas in 1902

Adair Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

Adair Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Alexander Adair, aged 40, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834

Adair Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Henry Adair arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Winterthur" in 1866
  • Walter Adair, aged 23, a labourer, arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Clarence" in 1875


  • Robert Kemp Adair (b. 1924), American physicist and Sterling Professor Emeritus of physics at Yale University
  • Paul Neal "Red" Adair (1915-2004), renowned American oil field firefighter, the 1968 John Wayne movie "Hellfighters" was based upon the feats of Adair during the 1962 Sahara Desert fire
  • Hazel Adair (1920-2015), British soap opera writer and creator for radio and television, best known for co-creating Crossroads
  • Sir Frederick Edward Shafto Adair (1860-1915), 4th Baronet of Flixton Hall, English peer
  • Sir Robert Shafto Adair (1862-1949), 5th Baronet of Flixton Hall, English peer
  • Sir Hugh Edward Adair (1815-1902), 3rd Baronet of Flixton Hall, Member of Parliament for Ipswich (1847-1874)
  • Robert Alexander Shafto Adair (1811-1886), 1st Baron Waveney, English peer
  • Sir Robert Alexander Shafto Adair (1811-1886), 2nd Baronet, English peer
  • Sir Robert Shafto Adair (1786-1869), 1st Baronet of Flixton Hall, English peer
  • John Ronald Shafto Adair (1893-1960), Australian aviator and businessman



  • The Descendants of James Adair by Miriam Dabbs Adair.

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: Loyal au mort
Motto Translation: Faithful unto death.


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  1. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  3. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  4. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  5. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  6. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  10. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  11. ...

The Adair Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Adair 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 May 2016 at 20:09.

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