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


McPhail is an ancient Pictish-Scottish name. It is derived from the personal name Paul. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Phàil.

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The surname McPhail was first found in Inverness, 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.

Translation has done much to alter the appearance of many Scottish names. It was a haphazard process that lacked a basic system of rules. Spelling variations were a common result of this process. McPhail has appeared MacPhail, MacPhial, MacPhiel, MacFail, MacFall, MacFaul, MacVail, MacPhale, MacPail, MacPhaul, MacFale, Phail, Fayle and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McPhail research. Another 168 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1490 and 1533 are included under the topic Early McPhail History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early McPhail Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McPhail family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 124 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many Scots left their country to travel to the North American colonies in search of the freedom they could not find at home. Of those who survived the difficult voyage, many found the freedom they so desired. There they could choose their own beliefs and allegiances. Some became United Empire Loyalists and others fought in the American War of Independence. The Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up in the last century have allowed many of these disparate Scots to recover their collective national identity. A search of immigration and passenger ship lists revealed many early settlers bearing the McPhail name:

McPhail Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • John McPhail and his wife Christie and three children, who arrived in New York in 1739
  • John McPhail, who landed in New York in 1739
  • Isabella McPhail, who landed in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1772
  • Donald McPhail, aged 9, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775
  • Duncan McPhail, aged 3, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775


McPhail Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Angus McPhail, aged 25, arrived in Tennessee in 1812
  • James McPhail, who arrived in South Carolina in 1816

McPhail Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mrs. Abigail McPhail U.E. who settled in Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. John McPhail U.E. who settled in Didgeguash, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. Hugh McPhail U.E., (McPhales, McVail) who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784

McPhail Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Angus McPhail, aged 41, a farmer, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Hercules"
  • Donald McPhail, aged 40, a shepherd, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Hercules"
  • Malcolm McPhail, aged 21, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Hercules"
  • Roderick McPhail, aged 36, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Hercules"
  • Ann McPhail, aged 18, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Hercules"


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  • Harold Thomas McPhail (1912-1977), American football fullback
  • Jerris Cornelius McPhail, former professional American football player
  • Addie McPhail (1905-2003), American film actress
  • Larry McPhail, retired American soccer forward
  • Andrew "Andy" McPhail, Scottish professional rugby league footballer
  • William "Billy" S. McPhail (1928-2003), Scottish football player
  • Robert Lowe "Bob" McPhail (1905-2000), Scottish internationalist professional association footballer
  • John McPhail (1923-2000), Scottish international football player
  • Christopher Campbell McPhail, Australian semi-professional ice hockey player
  • Tom McPhail, Canadian professor of media studies

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  1. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  2. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  6. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  7. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  8. 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.
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. 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 McPhail Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McPhail 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 29 April 2016 at 14:32.

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