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

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

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.


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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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


  • Don MacTavish, American stock car racer, who won the 1966 NASCAR National Sportsman Championship
  • Craig MacTavish, Canadian professional (NHL) hockey player


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.


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...


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. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  2. 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).
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  9. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  10. 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.
  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 24 May 2014 at 00:24.

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