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

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

The ancient Dalriadan clans of Scotland spawned the name MacSorley. It is derived from the personal name Somhairle, also known as Somerled. The Gaelic form of the name, Mac Somhairle, translates as son of Somhairle or son of Somerled.

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In the Middle Ages, the translation between Gaelic and English was not a highly developed process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and so, an enormous number of spelling variations appear in records of early Scottish names. MacSorley has appeared as MacSorley, MacSorely, MacSourly, MacCoullie, MacSorrill, MacSorrell, MacSurley and many more.

First found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacSorley research. Another 245 words(18 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacSorley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Some of the MacSorley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 157 words(11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The MacSorley were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown: James McSorely, who settled in Philadelphia in 1827; Alexander, Bernard, Charles, Denis, Francis, James, John, Michael, Patrick and Thomas McSorly all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.

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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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  1. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  2. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  3. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  4. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  8. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  9. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The MacSorley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacSorley 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 27 October 2010 at 13:49.

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