MacRae History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The clans of the ancient Scottish Pictish tribe were the ancestors of the first person to use the name MacRae. It was name for a prosperous person. The Gaelic form of the surname MacRae is Mac Rath, which literally means son of grace or son of prosperity.

Early Origins of the MacRae family

The surname MacRae was first found in Inverness-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) divided between the present day Scottish Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles, and consisting of a large northern mainland area and various island areas off the west coast, the shire was anciently both a Pictish and Norwegian stronghold, but their ancient history is often clouded with conjecture. It appears certain that they lived before the 14th century at Clunes, to the west of Inverness in the territories of the Fraser Clan. Consequently the family has always been friendly towards that Clan. From about 1400, they moved to the location with which they are readily associated, Kintail.

Early History of the MacRae family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacRae research. Another 548 words (39 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1539, 1539, 1688, 1745, 1425, 1505, 1477, 1505, 1715, 1764 and 1778 are included under the topic Early MacRae History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacRae Spelling Variations

Scribes in the Middle Ages did not have access to a set of spelling rules. They spelled according to sound, the result was a great number of spelling variations. In various documents, MacRae has been spelled MacCrae, MacCraith, MacCrath, MacCraw, MacCray, MacCrea, MacCree, MacCreight, MacCrie, MacReagh, MacRae, MacRay, MacRie and many more.

Early Notables of the MacRae family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Finghin MacCarthy Reagh (c.1425-1505), the 8th Prince of Carbery from 1477 to 1505, belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty; the Earl of Seaforth who forfeited his lands in 1715, but in 1764 was allowed to buy the lands back from the Government. In gratitude he offered to raise a regiment to be known as the Seaforth Highlanders (the 78th Regiment). Composed largely of MacKenzies and MacRaes (always loyal supporters of the MacKenzies whose Chief commanded the Regiment), it was embodied at Elgin in May 1778...
Another 92 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacRae Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacRae family to Ireland

Some of the MacRae family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States MacRae migration to the United States +

The cruelties suffered under the new government forced many to leave their ancient homeland for the freedom of the North American colonies. Those who arrived safely found land, freedom, and opportunity for the taking. These hardy settlers gave their strength and perseverance to the young nations that would become the United States and Canada. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the name MacRae:

MacRae Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Nancy Macrae, who arrived in North Carolina in 1771 [1]
  • Nancy MacRae, who landed in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1772 [1]
MacRae Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Duncan MacRae, who arrived in New York, NY in 1836 [1]
  • Roderick and John MacRae, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1840
  • John MacRae, aged 27, who landed in New York, NY in 1893 [1]
MacRae Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Alexander Macrae, aged 22, who immigrated to the United States from Aultchruin, Scotland, in 1908
  • Agnes Macrae, aged 28, who settled in America from Coupar, Scotland, in 1909
  • Anna B. Macrae, aged 19, who settled in America from Maryburgh, Scotland, in 1910
  • Alexander Macrae, aged 25, who immigrated to America from Strathcarron, Scotland, in 1913
  • Bella MacRae, aged 8, who landed in America from Stornaway, Scotland, in 1919
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada MacRae migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

MacRae Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Blanche L. MacRae, aged 33, who settled in Vancouver, Canada, in 1911

Australia MacRae migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

MacRae Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Macrae, aged 24, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [2]
  • Anne Macrae, aged 20, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [2]
  • Mary Macrae, aged 16, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [2]
  • Archibald Macrae, aged 14, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [2]
  • Duncan Macrae, aged 11, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [2]

New Zealand MacRae migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

MacRae Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Macrae, aged 18, a farm labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1878
  • Mr. Duncan Macrae, (b. 1849), aged 29, Scottish shephrd from Ross departing on 10th August 1878 aboard the ship "Hydaspes" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 9th November 1878

Contemporary Notables of the name MacRae (post 1700) +

  • Sheila MacRae (1922-2014), American actress, probably best known for her role as Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of "The Honeymoooners" with Jackie Gleason
  • Heather MacRae (b. 1946), American stage, film and television actress, best known for her work with Woody Allen
  • Meredith Lynn MacRae (1944-2000), American actress and singer, best known for her roles as Sally Ann on My Three Sons (1963-1965) and as Billie Jo on Petticoat Junction (1966-1970)
  • William MacRae (1834-1882), American brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War
  • Gordon MacRae (1921-1986), American two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominated actor and singer, known for his roles in two Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956)
  • Calum MacRae (b. 1980), Scottish rugby union skills coach
  • John Duncan Macrae (1905-1967), Scottish actor
  • Duncan Macrae (1905-1967), Scottish actor and comedian
  • Stuart MacRae (b. 1982), Canadian professional ice hockey forward
  • Colonel Robert Stuart Macrae TD, English inventor for inventing the sticky bomb used during World War II
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The MacRae Motto +

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: Fortitudine
Motto Translation: With fortitude.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LYSANDER 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Lysander.htm


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