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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Scottish-Alt, Scottish

Where did the Scottish MacDonald family come from? What is the Scottish MacDonald family crest and coat of arms? When did the MacDonald family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the MacDonald family history?

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

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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  • 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. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  3. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  5. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  6. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  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 13 July 2015 at 16:17.

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