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

Origins Available: Scottish-Alt, Scottish


The ancestors of the MacDonald family come from the ancient Scottish kingdom of Dalriada. The family name comes from the Anglicized version of the Gaelic personal name Mac Dhomhnuill. MacDonald is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. The surname MacDonald arose from the vernacular naming tradition, whereby surnames were formed by adopting the given name of one's father, or another ancestor. This name was first found in Kintyre, where members of this family had resided for many years.

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Historical recordings of the name MacDonald include many spelling variations. They are the result of repeated translations of the name from Gaelic to English and inconsistencies in spelling rules. They include MacDonald, Macdonald, McDonald, Donaldson, MacDonny and many more.

First found in Kintyre, and much of the Eastern islands and coast-lands where members of this Clan, descended through Somerled, Lord of the Isles and had resided for many years.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacDonald research. Another 435 words (31 lines of text) covering the years 1336, 1386, 1423, 1437, 1449, 1603, and 1692 are included under the topic Early MacDonald History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacDonald Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the MacDonald family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 164 words (12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Dalriadan families proliferated in North America. Their descendants still populate many communities in the eastern parts of both the United States and Canada. Some settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists, in the wake of the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border have recovered much of their heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and highland games. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name MacDonald or a variant listed above:

MacDonald Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Daniel MacDonald, who landed in Virginia in 1731
  • Norman and Elizabeth Macdonald, and their two children who settled in Georgia in 1741
  • Daniel Macdonald, who came to New Jersey sometime between 1730 and 1749
  • Archibald MacDonald, who arrived in America in 1760-1763
  • James Macdonald, who landed in North Carolina in 1772


MacDonald Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Alastair Macdonald, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1803
  • Moore MacDonald, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Robert MacDonald, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • William MacDonald, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Thos MacDonald, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816


MacDonald Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • John J Macdonald, who landed in California in 1900
  • James Ernest Macdonald, who arrived in Colorado in 1903
  • Samuel MacDonald, who arrived in Colorado in 1903
  • Alexander MacDonald, who arrived in Mississippi in 1905
  • Carmen Claude MacDonald, who landed in Alabama in 1920


MacDonald Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Charles MacDonald, who arrived in Halifax, NS from Skye, in 1776
  • Ensign. Soirle MacDonald U.E., (Soril, Soirlee, Sorley, Samuel, Soyle) (b. 1730) born in Isle of Skye, Scotland from North Carolina, USA who settled in Port Roseway, [Shelbourne], Nova Scotia c. 1783, returned to the Isle of Skye, Scotland in 1790 originally arriving in America in m1771, listed as serving in the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment, married to Flora Nicolson in Scotland in 1765 having 4 children he died in 1830
  • Private. Alexander MacDonald U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784 he served in the Queen's Loyal Rangers
  • Mr. Alexander MacDonald Sr., U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784
  • Mr. Alan MacDonald U.E. born in Scotland from North Carolina, USA who settled in Douglas Township [Kennetcook], Hants County, Nova Scotia c. 1784, then moved to England before finally settling Isle of Skye in Scotland he served in the Royal Highlands Emigrants, and the 84th Regiment, married to Flora they had 6 children


MacDonald Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Donald Macdonald, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Ronald Macdonald, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Janet Macdonald, aged 3, landed in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • John MacDonald, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Jon Macdonald, aged 6, arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801


MacDonald Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Edward MacDonald, English convict from Warwick, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • William Macdonald, Scottish convict from Edinburgh, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on July 29th, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Hugh MacDonald, aged 29, a shepherd, arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Africaine" in 1836
  • John MacDonald arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Lilford" in 1839
  • John MacDonald arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1839


MacDonald Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Alexander Macdonald, aged 24, arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Accrington" in 1863
  • John MacDonald, aged 28, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Margaret MacDonald, aged 25, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864

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  • Ian Pirie MacDonald (1867-1942), American portrait photographer
  • Dwight MacDonald (1906-1982), American writer, editor, social critic, philosopher, and political radical
  • Rory MacDonald (b. 1949), Scottish folk-rock musician and songwriter
  • Alexander MacDonald (b. 1948), Scottish professional footballer and manager
  • Malcolm Macdonald (1901-1981), Scottish administrator
  • George Macdonald (1824-1905), Scottish poet and novelist
  • Thomas Logie MacDonald (1901-1973), Scottish astronomer and politician
  • Cyril Pius "Cy" MacDonald (1928-2015), Canadian educator and politician who represented Milestone from 1964 to 1975 and Qu'Appelle-Wolseley from 1975 to 1982 in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
  • Flora MacDonald PC CC OOnt ONS (1926-2015), Canadian politician, Minister of Communications (1986-1988), Minister of Employment and Immigration (1984-1986), 16th Secretary of State for External Affairs (1979-1980), MP for Kingston and the Islands (1972-1988)
  • Pierre MacDonald (1936-2015), Canadian politician, member of the National Assembly of Quebec (1985-1989)

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  • Adam and Susan Fickas: their Descendants and Allied Families by Viva Fickas Freeman.
  • McDaniel/MacDonald Notes by Ellen Byrne.
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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: Per mare per terras
Motto Translation: By sea and by land.

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MacDonald Clan Badge
MacDonald Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name MacDonald
Aisles, Alwraith, Alwraithy, Alwraord, Alwraorde, Alwraork, Alwraorth, Alwraorthe, Alwraorthy, Asparran, Asparrand, Asparrane, Asparrant, Asparren, Asparrend, Asparrent, Asparrind, Asparrint, Asparryn, Asparrynd, Bait, Baith, Baithy, Balach, Balack, Balake, Balech, Baleck, Balick, Balitch, Ballach, Ballack, Ballak, Ballake, Ballech, Balleck, Ballick, Ballitch, Balloch, Ballock, Ballok, Ballox, Ballyck, Ballyke, Baloch, Balock, Balox, Balyck, Balyke, Baorde and more.

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  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  3. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  7. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The MacDonald Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacDonald 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 12 March 2016 at 23:01.

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