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


The age-old Pictish-Scottish family name Finlayson is derived from the Gaelic MacFhionnlaigh which means 'son of Finlay' or which is often Anglicized to fair hero.

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The surname Finlayson was first found in Stirlingshire, where traditionally this Clan is descended from Finlay Mor Farquharson, in turn descended from the ancient 11th century Thanes of Fife, through Shaw MacDuff, the first progenitor of the Farquharsons of the Braes of Mar. The descendants of Finlay Mor, a giant of a man, a man of daring and unequalled courage, settled in the lowlands with the name MacIanla, though, strangely, they had previously been called the Clan Eracher. It is claimed that the MacErachers of Perth also are descended from Finlay Mor. In the lowlands they became the Clan MacIanla. This was in turn anglicized to Finlayson, having many spellings, but approximately the same sound. The first Finlay married the heiress of the Garden, 'of that Ilk', and acquired those estates.

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 Finlayson has been spelled Finlayson, Finleyson, Finlaison, Finlawson, Fynlawsone, Findlayson, Findleyson, Finlason, Findlaysoun, Finlaisone, Fynloson, McIanley, MacIanlay, MacKinlay, MacEracher, McEracher and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Finlayson research. Another 183 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1450, 1455, 1478, and 1585 are included under the topic Early Finlayson History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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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 Finlayson:

Finlayson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • George Finlayson settled in Maryland in 1774
  • James Finlayson, who landed in Virginia in 1793

Finlayson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • John, Lewis and Thomas Finlayson all arrived in Pennsylvania between 1813 and 1832
  • Alexander Finlayson, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1850

Finlayson Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Francis Donald Finlayson, who landed in Colorado in 1907

Finlayson Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Thos Finlayson, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Thomas Finlayson, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750

Finlayson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Grame Finlayson, Scottish convict from Stirling, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" on October 16, 1826, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • William Finlayson arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "John Renwick" in 1837
  • Helen Finlayson arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "John Renwick" in 1837
  • D. Finlayson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Caroline" in 1849
  • Eric Finlayson arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Stebonheath" in 1850


Finlayson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Finlayson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Pegasus" in 1865
  • Donald Finlayson, aged 31, a railway porter, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879
  • Bella Finlayson, aged 31, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879
  • Roderick Finlayson, aged 3, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879
  • James Finlayson, aged 1, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879

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  • Patty Finlayson, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Delaware, 2004
  • John L. Finlayson, American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates from Harrison County, 1934
  • James R. Finlayson, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 9th District, 1880-81
  • H. A. Finlayson, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Minnesota 10th District, 1920
  • George P. Finlayson (b. 1886), American politician, U.S. Consular Agent in Arica, 1917-18
  • Frank Graham Finlayson (1864-1947), American Republican politician, Member of California State Assembly, 1893-94; Superior Court Judge in California, 1911-19; Judge, California Court of Appeal, 1919-26
  • Alex Finlayson, American playwright
  • Paul Finlayson, American engineer in the Outer Planets Mission Analysis Group at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena
  • James Finlayson (1887-1953), Scottish born comedic actor, best known for his roles in Laurel & Hardy films
  • James Finlayson (1772-1852), Scottish self-trained engineer, founder of Finlayson & Compagnie

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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: Coelitus datum
Motto Translation: Given by God.

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  1. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  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. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  5. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  6. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  7. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  8. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  9. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  10. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  11. ...

The Finlayson Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Finlayson 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 3 March 2016 at 11:11.

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