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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McGill family come from? When did the McGill family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McGill family history?

The surname McGill was first used in the Scottish/English Borderlands by an ancient Scottish people called the Strathclyde- Britons. It was a name for someone who lived in Galloway. The McGill surname also comes from the Gaelic patronytmic name Mac an Ghoill, which means "son of the stranger."

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The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years McGill has been spelled MacGill, Magill, Makgill and others.

First found in Galloway (Gaelic: Gall-ghaidhealaibh), an area of southwestern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Dumfries and Galloway, that formerly consisted of the counties of Wigtown (West Galloway) and Kirkcudbright (East Galloway), where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGill research. Another 181 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1231, 1579 and 1734 are included under the topic Early McGill History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 75 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McGill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 179 words(13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

McGill Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Archibald McGill, who landed in North Carolina in 1740
  • Andrew McGill, aged 25, landed in Virginia in 1774
  • James McGill, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1799

McGill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Robert McGill, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Hugh McGill, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Daniel McGill, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Anthony McGill, who arrived in America in 1811
  • Samuel McGill, who landed in America in 1811


McGill Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Peter McGill, who landed in Canada in 1821
  • Thomas McGill, aged 26, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834
  • John McGill, aged 30, a farmer, arrived in Saint John aboard the ship "Highlander" in 1834

McGill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Mary McGill, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Jane McGill, aged 19, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Standard"
  • William McGill, aged 29, a miner, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Shackamaxon"
  • Janes McGill, aged 24, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "North"

McGill Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John McGill, aged 38, a farm servant, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • Lillias McGill, aged 37, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • John McGill, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • Archibald McGill, aged 17, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • David McGill, aged 15, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864


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  • Ralph Waldo Emerson McGill (1898-1969), American journalist, Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper editor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Sergeant Troy A. McGill (1914-1944), American soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Bruce Travis McGill (b. 1950), American actor, best known for his role as Jack Dalton on the television series MacGyver
  • Andrew Ryan McGill (1840-1905), American politician, the tenth Governor of Minnesota (1887-1889)
  • Bill "The Hill" McGill (b. 1939), retired American NBA and ABA basketball player
  • Bryant Harrison McGill (b. 1969), American editor and author from Mobile, Alabama
  • David McGill, American Grammy Award-winning bassoonist
  • John McGill (1809-1872), American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Richmond from 1850 until his death in 1872
  • William James McGill (1922-1997), American psychologist, author and academic administrator
  • James McGill (1744-1813), Scottish-born fur trader and philanthropist, endower and eponym of McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 1829

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  • Four Generation of Charles Magill of Ireland by Donald Gary Magill.
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  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  6. 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).
  7. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  8. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  9. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 4 February 2015 at 11:50.

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