McCaw History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

The surname McCaw 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 McCaw family

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

McCaw Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the McCaw family (pre 1700)

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

McCaw Ranking

In the United States, the name McCaw is the 13,008th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the McCaw family to Ireland

Some of the McCaw 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 McCaw migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McCaw Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James McCaw, who landed in Norfolk, Va in 1771 [6]
McCaw Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert McCaw, aged 39, who arrived in Maryland in 1812 [6]
  • Hugh M McCaw, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1841 [6]
  • Charles McCaw, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854 [6]
  • Alexander McCaw, who arrived in California in 1869 [6]

New Zealand McCaw 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:

McCaw Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Mccaw, (b. 1846), aged 20, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 5th January 1867 [7]
  • Miss S. McCaw, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Oamaru" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 17th February 1875 [8]
  • Mr. McCaw, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Oamaru" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 17th February 1875 [8]
  • James McCaw, aged 25, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Isabella McCaw, aged 33, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name McCaw (post 1700) +

  • Wendy McCaw, American businesswoman, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press
  • Patrick Andrew McCaw (b. 1995), American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors
  • Susan Rasinski McCaw (b. 1962), American politician and diplomat, U.S. Ambassador to Austria (2005-2007)
  • Craig McCaw (b. 1949), American businessman and entrepreneur, founder of McCaw Cellular (now part of AT&T Mobility) and Clearwire Corporation
  • Christian "Chip" McCaw (b. 1973), American Olympic volleyball player
  • John McCaw Jr. (b. 1951), American businessman who formerly owned McCaw Cellular in Seattle, Washington and a former part-owner of the Vancouver Canucks NHL franchise
  • Richard Hugh "Richie" McCaw (b. 1980), New Zealand rugby union player; he captained the national team, the All Blacks, in 110 out of his 148 test matches, and won two Rugby World Cups
  • William Alexander "Bill" McCaw (b. 1927), former New Zealand international rugby player
  • Sir Kenneth Malcolm McCaw QC (1907-1989), Australian politician, 40th Attorney-General of New South Wales (1965-1975), Member of the New South Wales Parliament for Lane Cove (1947-1975)
  • Jo McCaw (b. 1983), New Zealand netball player

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Robert W McCaw (b. 1921), Scottish Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Anderton, Lanarkshire, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [9]


  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. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm


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