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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

The ancient Pictish-Scottish name McCay comes from the personal name Aodh, a cognate of Hugh. The Gaelic form of the name is usually Mac Aoidh and in Inverness, the Gaelic form of the name McCay is Mac Ai.


Scribes in the Middle Ages did not have access to a set of spelling rules. They spelled according to sound, the result was a great number of spelling variations. In various documents, McCay has been spelled MacKay, MacCay, MacQuey, MacQuoid, MacKaw, MacKy, MacKye, MacCoy, McCoy and many more.

First found in Sutherland (Gaelic: Cataibh), a former county in northern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Highland, where early records show that Gilcrest M'Ay, forefather of the MacKay family of Ugadale, made a payment to the constable of Tarbert in 1326. It is claimed that the Clan is descended from the royal house of MacEth.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCay research. Another 597 words (43 lines of text) covering the years 1408, 1411, 1429, 1329, 1506, 1575, 1873, 1940, 1640, 1692, 1689, 1726 and 1692 are included under the topic Early McCay History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 97 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the McCay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 253 words (18 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


The cruelties suffered under the new government forced many to leave their ancient homeland for the freedom of the North American colonies. Those who arrived safely found land, freedom, and opportunity for the taking. These hardy settlers gave their strength and perseverance to the young nations that would become the United States and Canada. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the name McCay:

McCay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • James McCay, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746
  • Donald McCay, who arrived in America in 1758

McCay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Robert McCay, aged 24, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • Alexander McCay, aged 30, landed in North Carolina in 1812
  • John McCay, aged 37, landed in Georgia in 1812
  • Daniel McCay, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812
  • Campbell McCay, who arrived in Mississippi in 1823

McCay Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Mr. Duncan McCay U.E. who settled in Saint Johns, New Brunswick c. 1784

McCay Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Mary McCay, aged 26, arrived in St John, New Brunswick in 1833
  • Ann McCay, aged 18, landed in Quebec in 1834


  • Patrick McCay, Irish-born, American painter
  • Clive Maine McCay (1898-1967), American biochemist, nutritionist, gerontologist, and professor of Animal Husbandry at Cornell University from 1927-1963
  • Peggy Ann McCay, American actress, best known for her role as Caroline Brady on the NBC drama, Days of our Lives
  • Winsor Zenic McCay (1869-1934), American cartoonist and animator, best known for his Little Nemo character
  • Ryan McCay (b. 1986), Scottish footballer
  • Beatrix Waring McCay (1901-1972), one of Australian earliest barristers and magistrates, the second women to sign the Victorian Bar and the first female 'Reader' of the Bar
  • Henry Kent McCay (1820-1886), United States federal judge
  • Lieutenant General Sir James Whiteside McCay KCMG, KBE, CB, VD (1864-1930), Australian general and politician


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: Manu forti
Motto Translation: With a strong hand.


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  1. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  7. 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).
  8. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  9. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  10. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  11. ...

The McCay Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The McCay 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 2 March 2016 at 13:23.

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