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

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McCoy family come from? When did the McCoy family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McCoy family history?

The roots of the name McCoy are found among the Pictish clans of ancient Scotland. The name 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 McCoy is Mac Ai.


Although Medieval Scotland lacked a basic set of spelling rules, which meant that scribes recorded names according to their sounds it was not uncommon for the names of a father and son to be recorded differently. As a result, there are many spelling variations of Scottish single names. McCoy has been written 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 McCoy 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 McCoy History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the McCoy 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.


Thousands of Scots left their home country to travel to Ireland or Australia, or to cross the Atlantic for the North American colonies. The difficult crossing was an enormous hurdle, but those who survived found freedom and opportunity in ample measure. Some Scots even fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence. This century, their ancestors have become aware of the illustrious history of the Scots in North America and at home through clan societies and other organizations. Passenger and immigration lists show many early and influential immigrants bearing the name McCoy:

McCoy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Donald McCoy, who arrived in South Carolina in 1716
  • John McCoy, who landed in South Carolina in 1716
  • Paul McCoy, who arrived in Virginia in 1716
  • Denis McCoy and his wife Catharine, who were colonists in Amelia county, Virginia in 1719
  • Cormack McCoy, who arrived in New York in 1738

McCoy Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Daniel McCoy, who landed in Ohio in 1803
  • Bryan McCoy, aged 32, landed in New York in 1812
  • Dennis McCoy, aged 34, landed in New York in 1812
  • Neil McCoy, aged 32, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Patrick McCoy, aged 16, landed in Buffalo, NY in 1827

McCoy Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Thomas McCoy, who arrived in Quebec in 1838
  • Samuel McCoy, who arrived in Canada in 1839

McCoy Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Mary A. McCoy, aged 20, a servant, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jessie Osborne" in 1867
  • Thomas McCoy, aged 33, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Ann McCoy, aged 29, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • George McCoy, aged 1, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Anne McCoy, aged 26, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875


  • Matt McCoy (b. 1958), American actor
  • Horace McCoy (1897-1955), American writer, best known for his They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) which was later made into a movie 14 years after his death
  • Kansas Joe McCoy (1905-1950), American Delta blues musician and songwriter
  • Major-General Frank Ross McCoy (1874-1954), American Commanding General 2nd Army (1935-1936)
  • Timothy John Fitzgerald "Tim" McCoy (1891-1978), American actor so popular with youngsters as a cowboy star that he appeared on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes
  • Al McCoy (1894-1966), American middleweight champion boxer
  • Colt McCoy (b. 1986), American football quarterback
  • Charlie McCoy (b. 1941), American musician
  • Major General Robert Bruce McCoy (1867-1926), American officer in the National Guard in the early 20th century awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and Croix de guerre during World War I
  • William Frederick McCoy (d. 1948), American sea captain and smuggler during the U.S. Prohibition Era, famous for never watering his booze



  • Squirrel Huntin' Sam McCoy by Hobert McCoy.
  • The McCoys by Truda Williams McCoy.


  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  5. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  6. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  10. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 6 November 2015 at 01:25.

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