MacTavish History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The west coast of Scotland and the rocky Hebrides islands are the ancient home of the MacTavish family. The root of their name is the personal name Tammas, which is the Lowland Scottish form of Thomas. The Gaelic forms of the name are Mac Tamhais or Mac Thamhais, both of which mean son of Tammas.

Early Origins of the MacTavish family

The surname MacTavish was 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 the first recorded Chief was MacGilla Tamhais whose name became anglicized as MacIltavish. A later Chief, Collen, called the 'good bald Colin' of Dunardarie, son of Gillespick, was directly descended from the Tavish Corr. Although it is reasonably clear that the Clan was settled in Craignish well before 800 AD, the historical records show little of their activities or family relationships.

Although many historians list this Clan as a sept of the Campbells, and others claim that a relationship to the Frasers existed, there is no good reason to suppose these relationships were the result of anything other than geographical proximity. There has also been some confusion between the MacTavishes and the MacThomas. Here also, the relationship is tenuous - the Thomsons being a separate Border Clan with its own Chief at that time. The Chief of the MacTavishes is considered to be the MacTavish of Dunardrie.

Early History of the MacTavish family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacTavish research. Another 264 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1355, 1858, 1997, 1755 and 1815 are included under the topic Early MacTavish History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacTavish Spelling Variations

Spelling and translation were not standardized practices until the last few centuries. Spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. MacTavish has been spelled MacTavish, McTavish, MacTaffish, McTaffish and many more.

Early Notables of the MacTavish family (pre 1700)

Another 40 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacTavish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacTavish family to Ireland

Some of the MacTavish family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 45 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada MacTavish migration to Canada +

Numerous Scottish settlers settled along the east coast of the colonies that would become the United States and Canada. Others traveled to the open country of the west. At the time of the American War of Independence, some remained in the United States, while those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The highland games and Clan societies that sprang up across North America in the 20th century have helped many Scots to recover parts of their lost traditions. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first MacTavishs to arrive in North America:

MacTavish Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John George Mactavish, was on record in Montreal, Canada between the years 1782-1798
MacTavish Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Christene Mactavish, who settled in Prince Edward Island in 1803

Contemporary Notables of the name MacTavish (post 1700) +

  • Elspeth MacTavish, American actress, known for Oscar and Lucinda (1997), Children of the Revolution (1996) and Kevin Rampenbacker and the Electric Kettle (1994)
  • Gregory MacTavish, American actor, known for his work on Darkness Road (2006), Biology 101 (2011) and Peter's Price (2005)
  • Scott Mactavish, American filmmaker and author, known for his work on Murph: The Protector (2013), Summer Running: The Race to Cure Breast Cancer (2006) and God and Country: Untold Stories of the American Military (2008)
  • Don MacTavish, American stock car racer, who won the 1966 NASCAR National Sportsman Championship
  • Letitia MacTavish Hargrave (1813-1854), born Letitia MacTavish, Scottish-born, Canadian author of letters published as memoirs of 19th-century pioneer women in Canada; she married Hudson's Bay Company Chief Trader James Hargrave
  • John MacTavish (1787-1852), Scottish-born, Canadian heir to the North West Company and British Consul to the State of Maryland, nephew of Simon McTavish
  • Anne L. Mactavish, Canadian Federal Court trial judge
  • Craig MacTavish (b. 1958), Canadian former professional NHL hockey player, current Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers
  • Letitia MacTavish Hargrave (1813-1854), born Letitia MacTavish, Scottish-born, Canadian author of letters published as memoirs of 19th-century pioneer women in Canada; she married Hudson's Bay Company Chief Trader James Hargrave
  • Alastair MacTavish Dunnett (1908-1998), Scottish journalist and newspaper editor, editor of "The Scotsman" (1956-1972)


The MacTavish 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: Non oblitus
Motto Translation: Do Not Forget Me after Death.


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