MacPhail History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the ancestors of the MacPhail family begins among the Pictish clans ancient Scotland. The name MacPhail comes from the personal name Paul. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Phàil. [1]

Another source notes the name is from "Mac Phail, ‘Paul's Son'. Phail is Anglicised from Maelfabhaill. ‘Maelfabhaill, son of Muircheartach, slain by the Norsemen'. " [2]

Early Origins of the MacPhail family

The surname MacPhail was first found in Inverness, where one of the first records was of Gillemore M'Phale who was one of an inquest at Inverness in 1414. [3]

From this earliest record, spellings were frequently changed. "Donald M'Pawle witnessed an indenture between Doncan Makyntosche and Huchone the Rois, Baron of Kylraok, 1490, and Donald Makfaill and Gylleis Makfaill were witnesses to a contract of friendship between Dunbar of Westfield and the Clanchattan, 1492. Finlay MacChaell, bailie of Rothesay, 1501, appears in 1503 as Macfaill, and again in 1506 as Makcaill, under which name he received a grant of a third of the lands of Dunallirde in Bute. The lands of Dulatyr in the lordship of Petty were let to Gilleis McFale in 1504. Sir John Mcfaell, a Pope's knight, who witnessed a bond of manrent in 1533, is possibly D John M'Fale who witnessed a charter relating to the church of Lindichty, 1535, and in 1538 appears as rector of the church." [3]

Early History of the MacPhail family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacPhail research. Another 420 words (30 lines of text) covering the years 1490, 1533, 1547, 1548, 1557, 1578, 1579, 1583, 1589, 1618, 1686, 1711, 1678, 1411, 1684, 1706, 1736, 1603, 1502, 1481, 1692, 1588, 1510, 1711, 1583, 1575, 1692, 1684, 1699, 1670, 1671, 1786, 1805, 1754, 1794, 1785 and are included under the topic Early MacPhail History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacPhail Spelling Variations

Prior to the invention of the printing press in the last hundred years, documents were basically unique. Names were written according to sound, and often appeared differently each time they were recorded. Spelling variations of the name MacPhail include MacPhail, MacPhial, MacPhiel, MacFail, MacFall, MacFaul, MacVail, MacPhale, MacPail, MacPhaul, MacFale, Phail, Fayle and many more.

Early Notables of the MacPhail family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was James MacPhail (fl. 1786-1805), gardener, the son of a highland peasant, born in Aberdeenshire in 1754. In his seventeenth year he obtained employment as a farm labourer. 'I ate and drank,' he says, 'at the same table as my master and mistress, for I was the only servant or labourer they kept' (Hints and Observations on the Improvement of...
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacPhail Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacPhail family to Ireland

Some of the MacPhail family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States MacPhail migration to the United States +

The freedom of the North American colonies was enticing, and many Scots left to make the great crossing. It was a long and hard journey, but its reward was a place where there was more land than people and tolerance was far easier to come by. Many of these people came together to fight for a new nation in the American War of Independence, while others remained loyal to the old order as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of Scots in North America have recovered much of this heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and other such organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important and early immigrants to North America bearing the name of MacPhail:

MacPhail Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Macphail, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854 [4]
  • John I MacPhail, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1855 [4]
  • Leonard Macphail, aged 9, who arrived in America from Cheetham, in 1897
MacPhail Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • William Macphail, aged 33, who arrived in America from Greenock, Scotland, in 1907
  • Lorne S. MacPhail, aged 28, who arrived in America from London, England, in 1908
  • Hugh Macphail, aged 35, who arrived in America from Nairn, Scotland, in 1913
  • Peter Macphail, aged 37, who arrived in America from Dunblane, Scotland, in 1918
  • Francis D. MacPhail, aged 29, who arrived in America from Kingston, Jamaica, in 1919
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada MacPhail migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

MacPhail Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Andrew Macphail, aged 43, who arrived in Montreal, Canada, in 1909
  • William MacPhail, aged 37, who arrived in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1910
  • Ethel MacPhail, aged 23, who arrived in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1910
  • Donald G. Macphail, aged 30, who arrived in Vancouver, Canada, in 1911
  • Dorothy Macphail, aged 25, who arrived in Montreal, Canada, in 1921
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name MacPhail (post 1700) +

  • Andy MacPhail (b. 1953), American former President of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles (2007-2011), Chicago Cubs President and CEO (1994-2006)
  • Leland Stanford "Lee" MacPhail Jr. (1917-2012), American front-office executive in Major League Baseball, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998
  • Leland Stanford "Larry" MacPhail Sr. (1890-1975), American executive and innovator in Major League Baseball, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Catherine MacPhail (1946-2021), Scottish author from Greenock; after she had won a romantic story competition in Woman's Weekly and later was the author of the BBC Radio 2 series, My Mammy And Me
  • Iain Duncan Macphail (1938-2009), Lord Macphail, a Scottish lawyer, Senator of the College of Justice (2005-2009)
  • John MacPhail (b. 1955), Scottish former football defender who played from 1975 to 1994
  • James Alexander "Sandy" Macphail (1870-1949), Canadian engineer, educator and politician who represented 4th Queens in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island from 1911 to 1915
  • Richard Paul MacPhail (b. 1950), English former musician, best known for being involved in the early tours of rock band Genesis
  • Sir John Andrew Macphail (1864-1938), Canadian physician, author, professor of medicine, and soldier
  • Joy MacPhail, former Canadian politician in British Columbia who held numerous ministerial posts from 1991 to 2005
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Moore, A.W., Manx Names. London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1906. 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. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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