McGhee History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

History reveals the roots of the McGhee family name in the ancient Strathclyde people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. The McGhee name is derived from the Gaelic name Aodh, meaning Hugh, and the word mac, meaning son of. [1]

Early Origins of the McGhee family

The surname McGhee was first found in Dumfriesshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Dhùn Phris), a Southern area, bordering on England that today forms part of the Dumfries and Galloway Council Area.

The first on record was Gilmighel Mac Ethe of Dumfries who rendered homage to King Edward I in 1296. "In the following year, as Gille Michel MacGethe, he was thanked by Edward I for putting down evildoers and for other services. Neel McEthe, Gillecryst McEthe, Hoen McEthe, Cuthbert his brother, and all of the lineage of Clenafren, made submission to Edward I in 1298. Michael Macgethe was juror on an inquisition in Annandale, 1304." [2]

Early History of the McGhee family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGhee research. Another 311 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1331, 1339, 1424, 1426, 1444, 1463, 1473, 1480, 1500, 1506, 1574, 1595, 1673, 1682, 1426, 1426, 1471, 1471, 1527, 1527, 1570, 1570, 1611 and are included under the topic Early McGhee History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGhee Spelling Variations

Prior to the first dictionaries, scribes spelled words according to sound. This, and the fact that Scottish names were repeatedly translated from Gaelic to English and back, contributed to the enormous number of spelling variations in Scottish names. McGhee has been spelled MacGee, MacGhie, MacGhee, Magee and others.

Early Notables of the McGhee family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Gilbert M'Ghie, 1st Lord of Balmage (d. 1426); Gilbert M'Gy, 2nd Lord of Balmage (1426-1471); William M'Gye of Balmage and...
Another 26 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGhee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGhee Ranking

In the United States, the name McGhee is the 1,132nd most popular surname with an estimated 27,357 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the McGhee family to Ireland

Some of the McGhee family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 82 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 McGhee migration to the United States +

In such difficult times, the difficulties of raising the money to cross the Atlantic to North America did not seem so large compared to the problems of keeping a family together in Scotland. It was a journey well worth the cost, since it was rewarded with land and freedom the Scots could not find at home. The American War of Independence solidified that freedom, and many of those settlers went on to play important parts in the forging of a great nation. Among them:

McGhee Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Hannah McGhee, aged 45, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [4]
  • Mary McGhee, aged 38, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [4]
  • John H McGhee, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1843 [4]
  • Thomas C McGhee, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879 [4]
  • Hugh McGhee, who landed in Arkansas in 1899 [4]

Canada McGhee migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGhee Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mary McGhee, aged 18, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Protector" in 1834

Australia McGhee migration to Australia +

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

McGhee Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Mcghee, (b. 1812), aged 26, Irish labourer who was convicted in Londonderry, Ireland for 10 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Elphinstone" on 29th December 1838, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. Thomas McGhee, Scottish convict who was convicted in Perth, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the ""Blenheim"" on 24th July 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) and Norfolk Island, Australia [6]
  • Mary Ann McGhee, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "Anna Maria" on October 4, 1851, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [7]
  • Eliza McGhee, aged 26, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Joseph Rowan" [8]
  • Ann McGhee, aged 26, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Lismoyne"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand McGhee migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

McGhee Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Mcghee, British settler arriving as the 1st detachment of Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps travelling from Tilbury, Essex aboard the ship "Ramillies" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 6th August 1847 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name McGhee (post 1700) +

  • William "Bill" McGhee (1930-2007), American stage, film and television actor
  • Andrew "Andy" McGhee (1927-2017), American tenor saxophonist and educator from Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Jermaine Terrill McGhee (b. 1983), American football defensive end
  • William Mac McGhee (1905-1984), nicknamed "Fibber", an American Major League Baseball first baseman and outfielder
  • Alison McGhee (b. 1960), American New York Times bestselling author of picture books, books for children, and adult novels, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Shadow Baby
  • Warren Edward "Ed" McGhee (1924-1986), American Major League Baseball outfielder who played for the Chicago White Sox and the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1950s
  • Fredrick L. McGhee (1861-1912), American black civil rights activist, one of the first African American lawyers
  • Kanavis McGhee (b. 1968), American NFL football defensive end who played from 1991 to 1995
  • George Crews McGhee (1912-2005), American oilman and diplomat, 3rd Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1961-1963), 4th United States Ambassador to West Germany (1963-1968)
  • Granville Henry "Stick" or "Sticks" McGhee (1917-1961), American jump blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, best known for his blues song, "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee"
  • ... (Another 24 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Fraterville mine
  • Mr. Thornton McGhee (d. 1902), American coal miner at Fraterville mine in Tennessee, on the 19th May 1902 when an explosion collapsed the mine; he died [10]
  • Mr. B. M. McGhee (d. 1902), American coal miner at Fraterville mine in Tennessee, on the 19th May 1902 when an explosion collapsed the mine; he died [10]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. John McGhee (b. 1922), Scottish Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Dumbarton, Dumbarstonshire, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [11]
Ibrox disaster
  • David Douglas McGhee (1957-1971), Scottish football supporter, from Dumbartonshire who was at the Ibrox disaster on 2nd January 1971 when a human crush among the crowd killed 66 and injured 200 people he died of his injuries [12]

  1. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. 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)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ Convict Records Australia (Retrieved on 18th March 2022, (retrieved from
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from
  7. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Anna Maria voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1851 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from
  8. ^ South Australian Register Saturday 17th June 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Joseph Rowan 1854. Retrieved
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  10. ^ News paper article Fraterville Mine Disaster retrieved on 6th August 2021. (Retrieved from
  11. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from
  12. ^ Bradford City Football Club In memory (retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from on Facebook