Cairnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Cairnay family were part of an ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. They lived on the lands of Cardney in Perthshire.

Early Origins of the Cairnay family

The surname Cairnay was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland.

Cairnie is a parish in Aberdeenshire. "This place once formed part of the lordship of Strathbogie, which was granted to Sir Adam Gordon, by King Robert Bruce, after the defeat and attainder of Cumin, Earl of Badenoch, and was the original estate of the family of Gordon, whose property, since that period, has become very greatly extended." [1]

Early History of the Cairnay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cairnay research. Another 94 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1320 and 1546 are included under the topic Early Cairnay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cairnay Spelling Variations

In medieval Scotland, names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules. An enormous number of spelling variations were the result. Over the years, the name Cairnay has been spelled Cairney, Cairnie, Cardney, Cairnie and others.

Early Notables of the Cairnay family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Cairnay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Cairnay family

In such difficult times, Ireland, Australia, and North America looked like better homes for many Scots. The trips were expensive and grueling, but also rewarding, as the colonies were havens for those unwelcome in the old country. That legacy did not die easily, though, and many were forced to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. The Scottish legacy has resurface in more recent times, though, through Clan societies, highland games, and other organizations. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the old Scottish name of Cairnay: John Cairney arrived in New York in 1836.



The Cairnay 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: Ad alta
Motto Translation: To high things.


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.


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