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

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

McCray was first used as a surname among the descendants of the ancient Scottish people known as the Picts. It was a name for a prosperous person. The Gaelic form of the surname McCray is Mac Rath, which literally means son of grace or son of prosperity.

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Repeated and inaccurate translation of Scottish names from Gaelic to English and back resulted in a wide variety of spelling variations with single names. McCray has appeared MacCrae, MacCraith, MacCrath, MacCraw, MacCray, MacCrea, MacCree, MacCreight, MacCrie, MacReagh, MacRae, MacRay, MacRie and many more.

First found in Inverness-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) divided between the present day Scottish Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles, and consisting of a large northern mainland area and various island areas off the west coast, the shire was anciently both a Pictish and Norwegian stronghold, but their ancient history is often clouded with conjecture. It appears certain that they lived before the 14th century at Clunes, to the west of Inverness in the territories of the Fraser Clan. Consequently the family has always been friendly towards that Clan. From about 1400, they moved to the location with which they are readily associated, Kintail.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCray research. Another 1095 words(78 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1539, 1539, 1688, 1745, 1425, 1505, 1477, 1505, 1715, 1764 and 1778 are included under the topic Early McCray History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 353 words(25 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McCray family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 105 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many Scottish families suffered enormous hardships and were compelled to leave their country of birth. They traveled to Ireland and Australia, but mostly to the colonies of North America, where many found the freedom and opportunity they sought. It was not without a fight, though, as many were forced to stand up and defend their freedom in the American War of Independence. The ancestors of these Scots abroad have rediscovered their heritage in the last century through the Clan societies and other organizations that have sprung up across North America. Immigration and passenger ship lists show some important early immigrants bearing the name McCray:

McCray Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • John McCray, who arrived in Virginia in 1717

McCray Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • George McCray, aged 20, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • Mary McCray, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1855
  • J McCray, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1860

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  • Rodney Earl McCray (b. 1961), retired American basketball player
  • Warren Terry McCray (1865-1938), Governor of the U.S. state of Indiana from 1921 to 1924
  • Nikki McCray (b. 1971), American former professional women's basketball player
  • Larry McCray (b. 1960), American blues guitarist and singer
  • Chris McCray (b. 1984), American professional basketball player
  • Danny DeWayne McCray (b. 1988), American NFL football defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys
  • Meagan Kelly McCray (b. 1987), American soccer player
  • James McCray, American operatic tenor and voice teacher
  • Carrie Allen McCray (1913-2008), African-American writer
  • John Kennedy McCray (b. 1961), American artist, actor, author, screenwriter, director and film/stage producer

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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: Fortitudine
Motto Translation: With fortitude.

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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. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  3. 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.
  4. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  5. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  8. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  9. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The McCray Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McCray 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 8 December 2014 at 13:22.

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