Show ContentsFaile History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Picts were the ancient Scottish tribe where the ancestors of the Faile family lived. The name Faile comes from the personal name Paul. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Phàil. [1]

Another source notes the name is from "Mac Phail, ‘Paul's Son'. Phail is Anglicised from Maelfabhaill. ‘Maelfabhaill, son of Muircheartach, slain by the Norsemen'. " [2]

Early Origins of the Faile family

The surname Faile was first found in Inverness, where one of the first records was of Gillemore M'Phale who was one of an inquest at Inverness in 1414. [3]

From this earliest record, spellings were frequently changed. "Donald M'Pawle witnessed an indenture between Doncan Makyntosche and Huchone the Rois, Baron of Kylraok, 1490, and Donald Makfaill and Gylleis Makfaill were witnesses to a contract of friendship between Dunbar of Westfield and the Clanchattan, 1492. Finlay MacChaell, bailie of Rothesay, 1501, appears in 1503 as Macfaill, and again in 1506 as Makcaill, under which name he received a grant of a third of the lands of Dunallirde in Bute. The lands of Dulatyr in the lordship of Petty were let to Gilleis McFale in 1504. Sir John Mcfaell, a Pope's knight, who witnessed a bond of manrent in 1533, is possibly D John M'Fale who witnessed a charter relating to the church of Lindichty, 1535, and in 1538 appears as rector of the church." [3]

Early History of the Faile family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Faile research. Another 420 words (30 lines of text) covering the years 1490, 1533, 1547, 1548, 1557, 1578, 1579, 1583, 1589, 1618, 1686, 1711, 1678, 1411, 1684, 1706, 1736, 1603, 1502, 1481, 1692, 1588, 1510, 1711, 1583, 1575, 1692, 1684, 1699, 1670, 1671, 1786, 1805, 1754, 1794, 1785 and are included under the topic Early Faile History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Faile Spelling Variations

When the first dictionaries were invented in the last few hundred years, spelling gradually became standardized. Before that time, scribes spelled according to sound. Names were often recorded under different spelling variations every time they were written. Faile has been written MacPhail, MacPhial, MacPhiel, MacFail, MacFall, MacFaul, MacVail, MacPhale, MacPail, MacPhaul, MacFale, Phail, Fayle and many more.

Early Notables of the Faile family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was James MacPhail (fl. 1786-1805), gardener, the son of a highland peasant, born in Aberdeenshire in 1754. In his seventeenth year he obtained employment as a farm labourer. 'I ate and drank,' he says, 'at the same table as my master and mistress, for I was the only servant or labourer they kept' (Hints and Observations on the Improvement of...
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Faile Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Faile family to Ireland

Some of the Faile family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Faile migration to the United States +

The crossing to North America did not seem so great in comparison with the hardships many Scots endured at home. It was long, expensive, and cramped, but also rewarding. North America offered land and the chance for settlers to prove themselves in a new place. And many did prove themselves as they fought to forge a new nation in the American War of Independence. The ancestors of those Scots can now experience much of their once-lost heritage through the Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up across North America in the last century. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Faile:

Faile Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Walter H. Faile, aged 35, who arrived in New York in 1896 aboard the ship "Lucania" from Liverpool & Queenstown [4]
Faile Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Cecilia D. Faile, aged 60, who arrived in New York in 1906 aboard the ship "Umbria" from Liverpool, England [4]
  • Marguerite Faile, aged 33, who arrived in New York in 1921 aboard the ship "Fort Victoria" from Hamilton, Bermuda [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Faile (post 1700) +

  • Tommy Faile (1928-1998), American songwriter and singer best known for writing "Phantom 309" and singing "The Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights"
  • Samuel Faile, American Republican politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Westchester County 5th District, 1949-52 [5]

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Moore, A.W., Manx Names. London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1906. Print
  3. 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)
  4. Ellis Island Search retrieved 15th November 2022. Retrieved from
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, March 16) . Retrieved from on Facebook