McGair History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the McGair family arrived in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name McGair came from the baptismal name Garrison, which means Gerard. That name was originally derived from the Old German Gerhard, which literally means spear-brave. [1]

Baptismal names began to appear as surnames relatively late in the growth of the naming tradition. This is a little surprising, given the popularity of biblical figures in the Christian countries of Europe. Nevertheless, surnames derived from baptismal names grew in popularity during the Middle Ages, and have become one of the foremost sources for surnames.

Early Origins of the McGair family

The surname McGair was first found in the North Riding of Yorkshire where the family originated in Garriston, a small township, in the parish of Haukswell, union of Leyburn, wapentake of Hang-West. [2] [3]

Early History of the McGair family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGair research. Another 130 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1066 and 1613 are included under the topic Early McGair History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGair Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gear, Gayre, Gyre, Garrison, McGair, Kerrison and many more.

Early Notables of the McGair family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the McGair family

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name McGair or a variant listed above: William Lloyd Garrison who was mobbed in the streets of Boston in 1835 because he was an abolitionist(slavery); R.W. Garrison or Garriston who settled in Baltimore, Maryland in 1872.



  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.


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