McAdams History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Scotland, the ancestors of the first people to use the name McAdams 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 McAdams family

The surname McAdams 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 McAdams family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McAdams 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 McAdams History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McAdams Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the McAdams family (pre 1700)

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

McAdams Ranking

In the United States, the name McAdams is the 2,769th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the McAdams family to Ireland

Some of the McAdams 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 McAdams migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McAdams Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George McAdams, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1803-1827 [6]
  • Robert McAdams, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 [6]
  • William McAdams, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1841 [6]
  • Samuel McAdams, who landed in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania in 1843 [6]
  • John McAdams, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1853 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
McAdams Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Alex McAdams, aged 14, who immigrated to the United States from Glasgow, in 1901
  • George McAdams, aged 39, who landed in America from Aberdeen, in 1906
  • George McAdams, aged 26, who settled in America from Sligo, in 1906
  • Bridget McAdams, aged 40, who settled in America from Leitrim, Ireland, in 1907
  • Edward McAdams, aged 33, who landed in America, in 1908
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McAdams migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McAdams Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Catherine McAdams, aged 77, who immigrated to Sarnia, Canada, in 1921
  • James McAdams, aged 21, who settled in Halifax, Canada, in 1921

Australia McAdams migration to Australia +

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

McAdams Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Francis Mcadams, (b. 1808), aged 19, Irish groom who was convicted in Meath, Ireland for life for house robbery, transported aboard the "Cambridge" on 2nd June 1827, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name McAdams (post 1700) +

  • John Charles McAdams (1945-2021), American associate professor of political science at Marquette University
  • Scott McAdams (b. 1970), American politician, Mayor of Sitka, Alaska and Democratic nominee for United States Senator from Alaska in 2010
  • Carl McAdams (b. 1944), American professional football player who played for the New York Jets (1967-1969)
  • Janet McAdams, American author of partial Native American descent, recipient of the American Book Award in 2001
  • Francis H. McAdams (1915-1985), American member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
  • Dona Ann McAdams (b. 1954), American photographer
  • James McAdams, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, 1992 [8]
  • James McAdams, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Albany County 3rd District, 1915 [8]
  • J. L. C. McAdams, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Indiana, 1904 [8]
  • Harry Mayhew McAdams (1916-2008), American Democratic Party politician [8]
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/cambridge
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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