McGaffin History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Scottish name McGaffin is carried by the descendents of the Pictish people. It was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith. [1]

Early Origins of the McGaffin family

The surname McGaffin was 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, where the name is from the Gaelic 'Govha' meaning 'a blacksmith' and as such could have been a name that applied to people throughout Scotland.

However, as in the case of clans like the Fletchers or Clarks, eventually the name became attributed to a specific area or region. As such, The Clan was also located in Nithsfield in the 12th century, and recorded as a Border Clan. To the west in Elgin and Galloway they were known as the MacGavins.

Early History of the McGaffin family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGaffin research. Another 158 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698, 1725, 1631, 1683, 1631, 1658, 1661 and are included under the topic Early McGaffin History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGaffin Spelling Variations

Translation has done much to alter the appearance of many Scottish names. It was a haphazard process that lacked a basic system of rules. Spelling variations were a common result of this process. McGaffin has appeared MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.

Early Notables of the McGaffin family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was John Gow (c. 1698-1725), Scottish notorious pirate probably born in Wick, Caithness whose short career was immortalized by Charles Johnson in "A General History of the Pyrates." Thomas Gowan (1631-1683), was a writer on logic, "born at Caldermuir, Scotland...
Another 46 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGaffin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McGaffin family to Ireland

Some of the McGaffin family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 99 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia McGaffin migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

McGaffin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John McGaffin, aged 38, a farm servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Admiral Boxer"
  • John McGaffin, aged 14, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Admiral Boxer"
  • Catherine McGaffin, aged 19, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Admiral Boxer"
  • Cecilia McGaffin, aged 16, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Admiral Boxer"

Contemporary Notables of the name McGaffin (post 1700) +

  • Keely McGaffin, American director, known for her work on Last Call at Murray's (2015), Our Father (2014) and Carbon Dating (2015)


The McGaffin 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: Juncta arma decori
Motto Translation: Arms united to merit.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print


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