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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

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

The Irish surname McElwee originally appeared in Gaelic as "Mac Fhiodhbhuidhe," which is probably derived from the word "fiodhbhadhach," referring to "a woodman."


Just like the English language, the Gaelic language of Ireland was not standardized in the Middle Ages. Therefore, one's name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origins of the McElwee family name include McEvoy, Evoy, McGilloway, McVeagh, McVeigh, McAvoy, McElwee, McElwy and many more.

First found in Wexford (Irish: Loch Garman), founded by Vikings as Waesfjord, and located in Southeastern Ireland, in the province of Leinster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McElwee research. Another 241 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1100 and 1563 are included under the topic Early McElwee History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early McElwee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the McElwee family came to North America quite early:

McElwee Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • William McElwee, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878

McElwee Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Amie McElwee, aged 20, who settled in America from Donegal, in 1904
  • Bridget McElwee, aged 21, who landed in America from Donegal, Ireland, in 1908
  • Agnes McElwee, aged 21, who landed in America from Carrigart, Ireland, in 1909
  • Fanny McElwee, aged 20, who landed in America from Tamney, Ireland, in 1911
  • James McElwee, aged 27, who emigrated to the United States from Liverpool, England, in 1911

McElwee Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Eliza McElwee, aged 22, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Fitzjames"
  • Sarah McElwee, aged 25, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Fitzjames"


  • Samuel McElwee (1857-1914), American slave from Madison County, Tennessee who was nominated by U.S. Senator Roderick R. Butler to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, but lost
  • Leland Stanford McElwee (1894-1957), American Major League Baseball player who played for the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1916 season
  • Ross McElwee (b. 1947), American documentary film maker and cinematographer, Harvard professor
  • Robert T. "Bob" McElwee (b. 1935), former American NFL football official
  • Robert "Rob" McElwee (b. 1961), BBC Weather's longest-serving weather forecaster
  • George Johnston McElwee (b. 1879), Australian politician, Labour member of the Tasmanian Legislative Council
  • Andrew McElwee (d. 1968), British trade unionist


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  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. 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).
  5. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  6. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  7. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  8. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  11. ...

The McElwee Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McElwee 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 28 April 2014 at 01:07.

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