McAdam History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Scotland, the ancestors of the first people to use the name McAdam were part of a tribe known as the Strathclyde Britons. The name is derived from the given name Adam, which is itself derived from the Latin name Adamus which means earth.

The MacAdams "of Waterhead, co. Ayr, claim descent from the head of the Clan Macgregor; but the name was changed, early in the XVI. century, from Macgregor to Macadam, in consequence of political troubles." [1]

Another source agrees with the postulation: "The family are descended from Adam Macgregor, grandson of Gregor Macgregor, chief of the clan Gregor." [2]

However, our research has shown the family existed far before Adam Macgregror as we shall soon show. In fact, "The Macadams of Waterhead, Ayrshire, of whom John Loudon Macadam the famous road-builder was a member, claim to be descended from a Macgregor of the first half of the sixteenth century who fled to Ayrshire. Recently Mr. Roy Devereux, great-grandson of the roadbuilder, in a letter to the press says: 'During my researches for the biography of my ancestor which I am now writing I have found no evidence whatever in support of the tradition that the McAdams are descended from the McGregors.'" [3]

Early Origins of the McAdam family

The surname McAdam was first found in Annandale, where they held a family seat at Kynemund and at Waterhead in the Stewartry of Kirkudbright.

"Adam of Caithness (d. 1222), Scottish bishop, was probably a native of the south of Scotland. The tradition is that he was a foundling exposed at the church door. He first appears in 1207, when we find that he, already prior of the Cistercians at Melrose, became abbot. " [4]

The name is MacAdaim in Gaelic, denoting "son of Adam" and the first record was "Dolfinus mach Adam witnessed a charter by Ernaldus, bishop of St. Andrews, c. 1160-1162." [3] This is likely the same aforementioned "Adam of Caithness" mentioned above but the Latin form of the name was used for this entry.

Early History of the McAdam family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McAdam research. Another 246 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1189, 1329, 1460, 1460, 1728, 1792 and 1891 are included under the topic Early McAdam History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McAdam Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: MacAdam, MacAdams, McAdam, McAdams, MacCaw and others.

Early Notables of the McAdam family (pre 1700)

Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McAdam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McAdam family to Ireland

Some of the McAdam family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McAdam migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McAdam Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Archibald McAdam, who landed in New England in 1685 [5]
  • George McAdam, who arrived in New Jersey in 1685 [5]
McAdam Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Joseph McAdam, who landed in Virginia in 1769 [5]
  • William McAdam, aged 28, who arrived in New York in 1774 [5]
McAdam Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Elizth McAdam, who landed in America in 1804 [5]
  • Elijah McAdam, who arrived in America in 1805 [5]
  • John McAdam, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1807 [5]
  • James G McAdam, who landed in New York in 1835 [5]
  • Peter McAdam, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McAdam migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McAdam Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James McAdam, aged 18, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Mr. Joseph McAdam who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Sobraon" departing 8th May 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 29th June 1847 but he died on board [6]

Australia McAdam migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

McAdam Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Sarah McAdam, aged 30, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry" [7]
  • David McAdam, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Constantine"
  • Henry McAdam (aged 31), a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Aurora"

New Zealand McAdam migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

McAdam Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Mcadam, (b. 1835), aged 23, British shepherd travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [8]
  • Mr. James Mcadam, (b. 1837), aged 21, British shepherd travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Indiana" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 28th November 1858 [8]
  • Mr. James Mcadam, (b. 1838), aged 26, Scottish shepherd from Kirkcudbright travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "William Miles" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 22nd October 1864 [9]
  • Mr. William Edward McAdam, (b. 1843), aged 31, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Peter Denny" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 26th July 1874 [9]
  • Mr. William McAdam, (b. 1848), aged 26, Scottish farm labourer from Berwickshire travelling from London aboard the ship "Tweed" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name McAdam (post 1700) +

  • Heather McAdam (b. 1968), American Young Artist Award nominated actress and yoga instructor
  • Doug McAdam, American Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003
  • Sean McAdam, American baseball writer for FoxSports.com, CSNNE.com, and the Boston Herald
  • William McAdam, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1880 (alternate), 1884 [10]
  • Lon J. McAdam, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Niagara County 1st District, 1934, 1935 [10]
  • James McAdam, American politician, Mayor of Cadillac, Michigan, 1887-88 [10]
  • James McAdam, American politician, U.S. Consul in Belfast, 1854 [10]
  • George H. McAdam, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 15th District, 1887 [10]
  • George G. McAdam, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Oneida County 2nd District, 1888-89 [10]
  • Clarence McAdam, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 11th District, 1902 [10]
  • ... (Another 12 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. William McAdam, British Greaser from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [11]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Michael Mcadam, English Fireman from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [12]


Suggested Readings for the name McAdam +

  • Isaac Towell & his Family by Roy H. Towell.
  • My Findings by Lillian Vesta Brown Johnson.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 85)
  7. ^ South Australian Register Monday 27th March 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Sir Edward Parry 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/siredwardparry1854.shtml
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  11. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  12. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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