Allister History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Allister family history stretches back to the clans of the Dalriadan kingdom on the sea-swept Hebrides islands and mountainous western coast of Scotland. The name Allister is derived from the given name Alexander, which in turn was originally derived from the Greek name, which means defender of men. In the late 11th century, Queen Margaret introduced the name, which she had heard in the Hungarian Court where she was raised, into Scotland by naming one of her sons Alexander. The popularity of the name Alexander was ensured by the fact that it was born by three Scottish kings, the first being Margaret's son who succeeded to the throne of Scotland following the death of Malcolm III.

Early Origins of the Allister family

The surname Allister was first found in Kintyre, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

"As a surname Alexander is very common on the west coast, where, according to the authors of Clan Donald, some of the descendants of Godfrey, second son of Alastair Mor, appear to have settled in the Carrick district of Ayrshire. " [1]

The Clan MacAllistair, Alisdair being the Gaelic for Alexander, are descended from the great King Somerled. Somerled had five sons, by his marriage to Ragnhildis, daughter of the Norwegian King of the Isles, Olaf Morsel. In the MacAllister line, Ranald had two sons, Ruari and Donald, and Donald had two sons, Angus and Alisdair. Alisdair living about 1230 to 1295 claimed the territory in South Knapdale, Kintyre, the ancient Clan seat was at Ard Phadraid (Patrick's Point) on the south side of Loch Tarbot. Alisdair (known as Alisdair Mor (the big)) is the recognized founder of the Clan. On his death, his estates were given to his brother and heir who was one of Bruce's supporters, Angus Mor.

Early History of the Allister family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Allister research. Another 462 words (33 lines of text) covering the years 1230, 1295, 1475, 1602, 1200, 1605, 1615, 1765, 1846, 1431, 1570, 1640, 1614, 1588, 1655, 1640, 1643, 1619, 1681, 1665, 1681, 1620, 1665, 1660, 1665, 1653, 1686, 1743, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Allister History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Allister Spelling Variations

Medieval translation of Gaelic names could not be referred to as an accurate process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and names in documents from that era are riddled with spelling variations. Allister has been written as Alexander, Alistair, MacAlexander, Alisandre, Alischoner, Alsinder, Alastair, MacAlexter, Callestar, Aleckander, Alexandri, Alisdair, Alaisder, Alestare, Alistare and many more.

Early Notables of the Allister family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Sir William Alexander (circa 1570-1640), 1st Earl of Stirling, Scottish government official, knighted in 1614, appointed Governor of the barony of Nova Scotia; William Allestry (Allestrie) (1588-1655), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons of England (1640-1643)...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Allister Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Allister family to Ireland

Some of the Allister family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 153 words (11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia Allister migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Allister Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Allister, aged 32, a farm labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "William Hammond" [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Allister (post 1700) +

  • Mrs. Siobhan Mary Allister B.E.M., British recipient of the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for charitable services [3]
  • Trygve Allister Diesen, Director
  • Allister Wences "Al" MacNeil (b. 1935), Canadian former National Hockey League player and coach from Sydney, Nova Scotia
  • Allister Wilbert Surette (b. 1961), Canadian politician and academic, President and Vice-Chancellor of Université Sainte-Anne (2011-)
  • Allister Haddon Sparks (b. 1933), South African writer, journalist and political commentator
  • Brigadier Allister Thompson MacLean, Canadian Chief Engineer 1st Canadian Army, England [4]


The Allister Motto +

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, by land.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 20th January 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Willaim Hammond 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/williamhammond1854.shtml.
  3. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 31 October 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1
  4. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 3) Allister MacLean. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/MacLean/Allister_Thompson/Canada.html


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