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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

The name MacMaster was first used centuries ago in the region that was once the Scottish kingdom of Dalriada. It was a name for a cleric. The Middle Gaelic word magisder is borrowed from the Latin magister. The Gaelic form of the surname is Mac a Mhaighstir, which means son of the Master.


The surname MacMaster was first found in Ardgour (Scottish Gaelic: Ard Ghobhar, meaning Height of the goats), where they were anciently derived from members of the Clan MacInnes, who changed their name.

Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents MacMaster has been spelled MacMaster, McMaster, M'Master, Mac a' Mhaighstir (Gaelic) and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacMaster research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1433 and 1498 are included under the topic Early MacMaster History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the MacMaster family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 145 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


These settlers arrived in North America at a time when the east was burgeoning with prosperous colonies and the expanses of the west were just being opened up. The American War of Independence was also imminent. Some Scots stayed to fight for a new country, while others who remained loyal went north as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of them went on to rediscover their heritage in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic Scottish events. The MacMaster were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

MacMaster Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Elizabeth MacMaster sailed to New York in 1774
  • Elizabeth Macmaster, aged 21, arrived in New York in 1774

MacMaster Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Wm. Macmaster, aged 36, who settled in America, in 1894

MacMaster Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Dora MacMaster, aged 25, who settled in America from Belfast, in 1905
  • John MacMaster, aged 41, who emigrated to America from Leslie, Scotland, in 1907
  • Archibald Macmaster, aged 45, who landed in America from London, England, in 1910
  • Henry Vere Macmaster, aged 32, who landed in America from London, England, in 1913
  • Donald Macmaster, aged 56, who emigrated to the United States from London, England, in 1914

MacMaster Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Angus MacMaster migrated from Lochaber, Inverness to Inverness County, Nova Scotia in 1802
  • William MacMaster (1811-1887), born in County Tyrone was the founder of the University of Toronto

MacMaster Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • Charles Adolphus MacMaster, aged 66, who emigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1919


  • Erasmus D. MacMaster D.D. (1806-1866), American Presbyterian pastor, academic and theologian, President of Hanover College and Miami University
  • John Bach MacMaster (1852-1932), American historian
  • Mary Macmaster (b. 1955), Scottish harpist, known for her work with The Poozies and the duo Sileas
  • Kenneth "Ken" MacMaster (b. 1934), Canadian politician, member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1977 to 1981
  • Daniel Stewart MacMaster (1968-2008), Canadian singer, lead vocalist for the Canadian/British hard rock band Bonham
  • Sir Donald Macmaster KC (1846-1922), 1st Baronet, Canadian lawyer and a politician
  • Hugh Alan "Buddy" MacMaster CM, ONS (1924-2014), Canadian fiddle player, known as King of the Jigs, uncle of Natalie MacMaster
  • Allan MacMaster (b. 1974), Canadian politician in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly
  • Natalie MacMaster CM (b. 1973), Canadian two-time Juno Award winning fiddler from Inverness County, Nova Scotia


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: MacAonghais a-rithist
Motto Translation: Again MacInnes


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  1. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  4. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  5. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  6. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  7. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  9. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The MacMaster Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacMaster 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 5 November 2015 at 14:12.

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