Show ContentsMar History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the first family to use the name Mar lived among the ancient Scottish people called the Picts. The Mar family lived in a place called Mar, which was in the county of Aberdeen. It may come from the Old Norse word marr, which was an extremely rare word, that was usually associated with the sea, but sometimes referred to a marsh or a fen. In this sense, Mar would be a habitational name. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Mar family

The surname Mar was first found in the West Riding of Yorkshire at Marr, a parish, in the union of Doncaster, N. division of the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill. [3]

It was here in England that James de Mar was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of 1182. Ralph atte Mar was also listed in Yorkshire in the Subsidy Rolls of 1297 as was William del Marre in the Subsidy Rolls for 1302. [2] The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included Johannes de Merre; and Henricus de Marre. [4]

However the lion's share of the family claim Scotland as their ancient homeland. Here Mar is a parish in Aberdeenshire where "the name is of local or territorial origin from the district in Aberdeenshire so named." [5]

This same source postulates that the name was "probably also from Marr in Yorkshire. In the Yorkshire dialect mar is used of 'marshy land, sodden or reedy ground.' " [5]

"In 1235 William de Mer, perhaps the earliest of the name in record [in Scotland], witnessed a grant by Radulf Manus to the Abbey of Kelso. Gilberd or Gilbert de Mar of Fifeshire, John of Mar, bailiff of Linlithgow, and James de Mer of Aberdeenshire, all rendered homage in 1296 [to King Edward I of England]. Richard Mar was present at inquest made at St. Andrews, 1302-1303. John de Marr, c. 1316, witnessed a charter of the lands of Linton-Rothirrik, and David de Marre was king's messenger in 1327. A canonry of Glasgow was granted to John de Mair, chaplain to Joan, queen of Scotland, 1346. Roger dictus Mer held land of the Abbey of Arbroath in 1329, Donald de Marre is mentioned in 1353 as late archdeacon of Brechin, Master David of Mer was treasurer of Moray, 1358, and Alexander de Marr was custumar of Dundee in 1359. " [5]

To better understand the York, England and Scotland relationship in the family, we found "William Mar, ninth Earl of Mar (d. 1281?), the son of Duncan, eighth earl of Mar, and grandson of Morgrund, fifth earl. He succeeded his father in or before 1237, when he attested at York the agreement between Henry III of England and Alexander II of Scotland. His right of succession was contested by Alan Durward, who asserted that William's father and grandfather were both of illegitimate birth, and that he ought to succeed as lawful heir. But apparently the case was arranged on the footing of an agreement which had been made about 1228 with Thomas Durward, father of Alan, who received a large accession of territory in Mar ; and the earldom remained with William de Mar. In 1249, during the minority of Alexander III, he was appointed one of the regents of Scotland." [6]

William's son, Donald Mar, tenth Earl of Mar (d. 1297), was knighted by Alexander III at Scone in 1270, and succeeded as earl before 25 July 1281, when he took oath at Roxburgh to observe the treaty for the marriage of Princess Margaret of Scotland and Eric, king of Norway. [6]

Early History of the Mar family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Mar research. Another 230 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1120, 1366, 1403, 1391, 1439, 1130, 1408, 1439, 1475, 1734, 1501 and 1748 are included under the topic Early Mar History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Mar Spelling Variations

In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Mar has appeared Marr, Mar, Marre, Mare and others.

Early Notables of the Mar family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Mar Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Mar Ranking

In the United States, the name Mar is the 14,249th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [7] However, in France, the name Mar is ranked the 7,098th most popular surname with an estimated 1,000 - 1,500 people with that name. [8]

United States Mar migration to the United States +

Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Mar:

Mar Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Mar, who arrived in Virginia in 1662 [9]
Mar Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Nicti Mar, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [9]
  • Joseph Mar, who settled in Louisiana in 1721
  • Andrew Murray Mar, aged 25, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1774 [9]
  • G F Mar, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1788 [9]
Mar Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Hernando DeLa Mar, who landed in America in 1813 [9]
  • Fco Mar, aged 25, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1826 [9]
  • D Mar, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [9]
  • Jose Mar, aged 25, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1853 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Mar (post 1700) +

  • J. Ernest Mar, American politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Orange, 1912 [10]
  • Emma Wong Mar, American politician, Representative from California 9th District, 1994 [10]
  • John Erskine Mar (1675-1732), Scottish Jacobite
  • Eric Lee Mar (b. 1962), American California politician
  • Norman Del Mar CBE (1919-1994), British conductor, horn player, and biographer
  • Gary Glen Mar QC (b. 1962), Canadian politician in Alberta
  • Mar Toma "Thomas" Audo (1854-1918), Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Ralph B La Mar, American Fire Controlman Third Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [11]

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. 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)
  6. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  7. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. 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)
  10. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 22) . Retrieved from
  11. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook