McKain History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

McKain is one of the names derived from the families of the ancient Dalriadan clans of Scotland. It is derived from the given name Ian or John. John is the most common personal name in the Highlands. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Iain.

Early Origins of the McKain family

The surname McKain was first found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, 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.

Early History of the McKain family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McKain research. Another 166 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1340, 1292, 1808, 1875, 1618, 1717, 1777, 1667 and are included under the topic Early McKain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McKain Spelling Variations

Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents McKain has been spelled MacIan, MacAne, MacKane, MacKean, MacKain and others.

Early Notables of the McKain family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Archibald McKain (1717-1777), Scottish Shoemaker and Burgess of Elgin, Morayshire, who became the 15th Chief of MacIain of Ardnamurchan. Also of note was Thomas M'kean of Delaware, one of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence. John Canne (d. 1667?)...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McKain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McKain Ranking

In the United States, the name McKain is the 10,047th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]

Ireland Migration of the McKain family to Ireland

Some of the McKain family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 80 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 McKain migration to the United States +

The hardy Scots who made the crossing settled all along the east coast of North America and in the great west that was just then opening up. At the time of the American War of Independence, many United Empire Loyalists moved north from the American colonies to Canada. Scottish national heritage became better known in North America in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic events. An examination of immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name McKain arrived in North America very early:

McKain Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert McKain, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1823 [2]
  • John McKain, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1839 [2]
  • Matthew McKain, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [2]
  • William R McKain, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [2]
  • James McKain, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1878 [2]

Australia McKain migration to Australia +

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

McKain Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Archibald McKain, Scottish convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Burrell" on 22nd July 1830, arriving in New South Wales [3]

New Zealand McKain 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:

McKain Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Buchanan McKAIN, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Ward McKAIN, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Ward McKain, aged 24, a tailor, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Olympus" in 1841
  • Robina Agnes McKain, aged 18, a sempstress, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Olympus" in 1841
  • James Buchanan McKain, aged 16, a tailor, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Olympus" in 1841
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name McKain (post 1700) +

  • Harold "Hal" Le Roy McKain (1906-1970), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Archie "Happy" Richard McKain (1911-1985), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Rev. William James McKain (1854-1936), Scottish (Devon born) ecclesiastic, 20th Chief of Clan Iain of Ardnamurchan
  • Jonathan "Jon" McKain (b. 1982), Australian footballer
  • James McKain (d. 1845), English member of the Royal Navy, 17th Chief of Clan Iain of Ardnamurchan

Lady of the Lake
  • Mr. James McKain (b. 1814), Irish labourer from Coleraine, Northern Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and he died in the sinking
  • Miss Margaret McKain (b. 1813), Irish traveller from Coleraine, Northern Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she died in the sinking
  • Miss Jane McKain (b. 1811), Irish traveller from Coleraine, Northern Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she died in the sinking
  • Mr. Peter McKain (b. 1809), Irish labourer from Coleraine, Northern Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and he died in the sinking
  • Mr. John McKain, Irish labourer from Coleraine, Northern Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and he died in the sinking


  1. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/burrell


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