Show ContentsMcFay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Originally, McFay was a nickname for a dark-featured, peaceful person. The Gaelic name of the Clan is Mac Dubhshithe, which translates as black one of peace. One branch of the Clan on the island of North Uist was known as Dubh-sidh, meaning 'black fairy,' due to their whimsical association with the faerie folk. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the McFay family

The surname McFay was first found in on the Isle of Colonsay, where the eponymous ancestor of the Clan may be Dubhshith, also called Dubside, who was lector at the Cathedral on the sacred isle of Iona in 1164. As the name MacFee is one of the oldest of all Dalriadan surnames it appears in records as early as the reign of Alexander II, when Johannes Macdufthi was witness to a charter in Dumfriesshire. In 1296, Thomas Macdoffy swore an oath of allegiance to King Edward I of England. [2]

Early History of the McFay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McFay research. Another 398 words (28 lines of text) covering the years 1506, 1512, 1531, 1532, 1541, 1569, 1585, 1595, 1605, 1609, 1626, 1681, 1703, 1723, 1747, 1838, 1845, 1850, 1890 and 1981 are included under the topic Early McFay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McFay Spelling Variations

Spelling variations were extremely common in medieval names, since scribes from that era recorded names according to sound rather than a standard set of rules. McFay has appeared in various documents spelled MacFie, McFey, MacFee, MacDuffie, MacPhee, MacGuffie, MacCuffie, MacPhie, Maffie, Maffey, MacDubh-shithe (Gaelic) and many more.

Early Notables of the McFay family

More information is included under the topic Early McFay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McFay family to Ireland

Some of the McFay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States McFay migration to the United States +

Descendents of Dalriadan-Scottish families still populate many communities across North America. They are particularly common in Canada, since many went north as United Empire Loyalists at the time of the American War of Independence. Much later, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the highland games and Clan societies that now dot North America sprang up, allowing many Scots to recover their lost national heritage. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name McFay, or a variant listed above:

McFay Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Emaus McFay, aged 40, who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica, in 1920

Contemporary Notables of the name McFay (post 1700) +

  • Nathaniel Jack "Monk" McFay (1908-1994), American jazz drummer and bandleader
  • James McFay (b. 1985), birth name of James MacLurcan, an Australian actor, director, and model

The McFay 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: Pro Rege
Motto Translation: For the King.

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3) on Facebook