McNeish History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

On the Scottish west coast, the McNeish family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the personal name Naos, which is a dialectal form of Aonghus or Angus. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Neis, which is derived from the earlier form Mac Naois; both of these mean son of Angus. Thus, the name McNeish is a cognate of MacAngus and MacInnes.

Early Origins of the McNeish family

The surname McNeish was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland, 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 McNeish family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McNeish research. Another 103 words (7 lines of text) covering the year 1522 is included under the topic Early McNeish History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McNeish Spelling Variations

In various documents McNeish has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. MacNeish, MacNeice, MacNish, MacNess, MacKness, MacNeece and many more.

Early Notables of the McNeish family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the McNeish family to Ireland

Some of the McNeish family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 67 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McNeish migration to the United States +

Significant portions of the populations of both the United States and Canada are still made up of the ancestors of Dalriadan families. Some of those in Canada originally settled the United States, but went north as United Empire Loyalists in the American War of Independence. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the ancestors of many Scots on both sides of the border begin to recover their collective national heritage through Clan societies and highland games. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

McNeish Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Janet McNeish, who landed in New York in 1809 [1]
  • John McNeish, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1858 [1]
  • Thomas McNeish, who settled in Philadelphia in 1868

New Zealand McNeish 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:

McNeish Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John McNeish, aged 23, a ploughman, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • Esther McNeish, aged 23, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • Elizabeth McNeish, aged 18 mths., who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864

Contemporary Notables of the name McNeish (post 1700) +

  • Robert C. "Bob" McNeish (1912-1999), American college football player and coach
  • George Robert McNeish (b. 1928), American politician, Mayor of Winfield, Kansas, 1964, 1966
  • Sir James Henry Peter McNeish KNZM (1931-2016), New Zealand novelist, playwright and biographer
  • Cameron McNeish, British wilderness hiker, backpacker and mountain walker


The McNeish Motto +

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: Animo non astutia
Motto Translation: By courage, not by craft.


  1. ^ 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)


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