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


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.

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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.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacTavish research. Another 527 words (38 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.

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Another 65 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacTavish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the MacTavish family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

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 came to Prince Edward Island in 1803

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  • 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


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

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MacTavish Clan Badge
MacTavish Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name MacTavish
Cauladge, Caulage, Cauledge, Caulege, Caulidge, Caulige, Caulish, Caulitch, Cavadge, Cavage, Cavedge, Cavege, Cavidge, Cavige, Cavish, Cavitch, Cawladge, Cawlage, Cawledge, Cawlege, Cawlidge, Cawlige, Cawlish, Cawlitch, Gavadge, Gavage, Gavedge, Gavege, Gavidge, Gavige, Gavish, Gavitch, Gawladge, Gawlage, Gawledge, Gawlege, Gawlidge, Gawlige, Gawlish, Gawlitch, Kavadge, Kavage, Kavedge, Kavege, Kavidge, Kavige, Kavish, Kavitch, MacCauladge, MacCaulage and more.

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  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. 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).
  3. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  4. 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).
  5. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  6. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  9. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  10. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  11. ...

The MacTavish Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacTavish 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 19 November 2015 at 13:51.

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