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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McCay family come from? What is the Scottish McCay family crest and coat of arms? When did the McCay family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McCay family history?

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.

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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.


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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.

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

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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.

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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 19th Century


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

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


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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. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  3. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  5. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  6. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  7. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  8. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  9. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  10. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The McCay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com 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 5 July 2015 at 07:08.

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