McClay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The name McClay came to England with the ancestors of the McClay family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The McClay family lived in Lincolnshire, where they held a family seat at Claye.
Early Origins of the McClay family
The surname McClay was first found in Lincolnshire where the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list William del Cley and Robert del Clay as holding lands there at that time. The same rolls also listed Alicia in le Clay, Huntingdonshire. 
Later, in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Agnes del Clay; Johannes del Clay; and Adam del Clay, Howdenshire. 
"Clay has long been a Notts surname. It was represented in the parish of Hayton in the time of Henry VII. Hercules Clay was a mayor of Newark in the reign of Charles I. (S.), and Clay is still a Newark name. The Clays of Southwell during last century carried their pedigree back 200 years, and their name is yet in the town. Six centuries ago Clay was a common name in the east of England, especially in Essex, Lincolnshire, Hunts, Cambridgeshire, and Beds. It is still well established in Lincolnshire, as well as in Notts and Derbyshire." 
Early History of the McClay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McClay research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1457 and 1537 are included under the topic Early McClay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
McClay Spelling Variations
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like McClay are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name McClay include Clay, Claye, Cley, Cleye, McClay and others.
Early Notables of the McClay family (pre 1700)
Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McClay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the McClay family to Ireland
Some of the McClay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
McClay migration to the United States +
Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name McClay, or a variant listed above:
McClay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Archibald McClay, who arrived in New York in 1811 
- David McClay, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1856 
- William McClay, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 
Contemporary Notables of the name McClay (post 1700) +
- Wilfred M. McClay, American historian and a noted conservative public intellectual
- Ryan McClay (b. 1981), American lacrosse player
- Will McClay (b. 1966), American Arena Football League coach
- Andrew "Andy" McClay (b. 1972), Scottish footballer
- Sir Allen McClay (1932-2010), Northern Irish multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist
- Roger Neville McClay (b. 1945), former New Zealand politician
- Todd Michael McClay (b. 1968), New Zealand politician and former ambassador
Related Stories +
The McClay Motto +
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: Per orbem
Motto Translation: Through the world.
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
- ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
- ^ 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)