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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The age-old Hebrides islands and the west coast of Scotland are the ancestral home of the McMaken family. Their name comes from the son of Matthew. In Gaelic, the name was spelled M'Mhathain or Mathanach. The latter names in Gaelic were probably derived from Mac Mhathghamhuin which means son of the bear. Indeed, early references of the name have reference to the Scottish bear.

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The surname McMaken was first found in the Scottish Highlands were they could be found in Lochalsh, Lochcarron and Kintail. They are said to descend from Gilleoin of the ancient and royal house of Lorne. They gave their allegiance to the Clan MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles. Kenneth MacMathan (Cormac Mac Mathian) was the constable of Eilean Donan castle and is recorded in most accounts of the invasion of King Haakon IV of Norway against Scotland in the 13th century. One accounts suggests that McMathan and his clansmen fought under the Earl of Ross, defeating Haaken at Largs in 1263. There is a record of Kermac Macmaghan in Inverness, receiving 20 cows from the Earl of Ross in 1264.

Medieval spelling was at best an intuitive process, and translation between Gaelic and English was no more effective. These factors caused an enormous number of spelling variations in Dalriadan names. In fact, it was not uncommon to see a father and son who spelled their name differently. Over the years, McMaken has been spelled Mathieson, MacMaghan, MacMathan MacMaken, Mathie, Mann and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McMaken research. Another 835 words (60 lines of text) covering the years 1263, 1400, 1411, 1427, 1498, 1514, 1427, 1600, 1539, 1570, 1631, 1688, 1715, 1719, 1820, 1851, 1683, 1796, 1878, 1851 and 1963 are included under the topic Early McMaken History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 225 words (16 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McMaken Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McMaken family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 49 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Scottish settlers arrived in many of the communities that became the backbones of the United States and Canada. Many stayed, but some headed west for the endless open country of the prairies. In the American War of Independence, many Scots who remained loyal to England re-settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Scots across North America were able to recover much of their lost heritage in the 20th century as Clan societies and highland games sprang up across North America. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first McMakens to arrive on North American shores: Alexander Matheson, who arrived in Boston in 1736; Charles Matheson, who came to Nova Scotia in 1773; John Matheson, who settled in Pictou, N.S. in 1773.

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  • Ryan McMaken, American political columnist
  • Rob McMaken, American musician, founding member of Dromedary Quartet, an American world music band


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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: Fac et Spera
Motto Translation: Do and hope.

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  1. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. 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.
  4. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  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. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  7. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  10. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The McMaken Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McMaken Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 September 2015 at 07:25.

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