MacAdam History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Scotland, the ancestors of the first people to use the name MacAdam were part of a tribe known as the Strathclyde Britons. The name is derived from the given name Adam, which is itself derived from the Latin name Adamus which means earth.

The MacAdams "of Waterhead, co. Ayr, claim descent from the head of the Clan Macgregor; but the name was changed, early in the XVI. century, from Macgregor to Macadam, in consequence of political troubles." [1]

Another source agrees with the postulation: "The family are descended from Adam Macgregor, grandson of Gregor Macgregor, chief of the clan Gregor." [2]

However, our research has shown the family existed far before Adam Macgregror as we shall soon show. In fact, "The Macadams of Waterhead, Ayrshire, of whom John Loudon Macadam the famous road-builder was a member, claim to be descended from a Macgregor of the first half of the sixteenth century who fled to Ayrshire. Recently Mr. Roy Devereux, great-grandson of the roadbuilder, in a letter to the press says: 'During my researches for the biography of my ancestor which I am now writing I have found no evidence whatever in support of the tradition that the McAdams are descended from the McGregors.'" [3]

Early Origins of the MacAdam family

The surname MacAdam was first found in Annandale, where they held a family seat at Kynemund and at Waterhead in the Stewartry of Kirkudbright.

"Adam of Caithness (d. 1222), Scottish bishop, was probably a native of the south of Scotland. The tradition is that he was a foundling exposed at the church door. He first appears in 1207, when we find that he, already prior of the Cistercians at Melrose, became abbot. " [4]

The name is MacAdaim in Gaelic, denoting "son of Adam" and the first record was "Dolfinus mach Adam witnessed a charter by Ernaldus, bishop of St. Andrews, c. 1160-1162." [3] This is likely the same aforementioned "Adam of Caithness" mentioned above but the Latin form of the name was used for this entry.

Early History of the MacAdam family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacAdam research. Another 246 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1189, 1329, 1460, 1460, 1728, 1792 and 1891 are included under the topic Early MacAdam History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacAdam Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: MacAdam, MacAdams, McAdam, McAdams, MacCaw and others.

Early Notables of the MacAdam family (pre 1700)

Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacAdam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacAdam family to Ireland

Some of the MacAdam family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States MacAdam migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

MacAdam Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William MacAdam, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1892 aboard the ship "Circassia" from Londonderry, Ireland [5]
MacAdam Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Isabel Bennett MacAdam, aged 26, arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Adriatic" from Southampton, England [6]
  • Francis Macadam, aged 27, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentine, arrived in New York City, New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Royal George" from Liverpool, England [7]
  • Sydney E. Mac Adam, arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Baltic" from Liverpool, England [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name MacAdam (post 1700) +

  • Dr. David Lewis MacAdam (1910-1998), American physicist and color scientist who identified the MacAdam ellipse
  • J. E. L. MacAdam, American Republican politician, Presidential Elector for Ohio, 1956 [9]
  • David L. MacAdam, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York, 1964, 1974 [9]
  • David H. MacAdam, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Honolulu, Hawaii, 1917-26 [9]
  • Sir Ivison Stevenson Macadam KCVO, CBE, FRSE (1894-1974), Scottish first Director-General of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), founding President of the National Union of Students
  • Dr. John Macadam (1827-1865), Scottish-born, Australian chemist, medical teacher and politician, eponym of the genus Macadamia and Macadam
  • Reginald Alan MacAdam (b. 1952), Canadian retired professional NHL ice hockey player who played from 1973 to 1985
  • Kevin MacAdam (b. 1967), Canadian former politician and current political advisor


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. 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. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6PY-QQ3 : 6 December 2014), William MacAdam, 12 Apr 1892; citing departure port Londonderry, arrival port New York, ship name Circassia, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  6. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6Q7-MM7 : 6 December 2014), Isabel Bennett MacAdam, 28 Dec 1919; citing departure port Southampton, arrival port New York, ship name Adriatic, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  7. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6QY-1PV : 6 December 2014), Francis Macadam, 27 Mar 1919; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York City, New York, New York, ship name Royal George, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  8. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J67J-XQ7 : 6 December 2014), Sydney E. Mac Adam, 09 May 1919; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Baltic, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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