The surname McQualter was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where they held a family seat. After the Norman Conquest of England many of Duke William's rebellious Barons moved north. The border became a convenient but turbulent no-man's land where the persecuted Many were given land by King Malcolm Canmore and later by King David of Scotland. Some were native Scots. In the 16th century they became known as the 'unruly clans'. In Ayrshire they were known as the men of Carrick. The name was first recorded in Scotland in 1526 when they were identified as followers of the Earl of Cassellis.
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Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: the name represented in many forms and recorded from the mid 17th century in the great migration from Europe. Migrants settled in the eastern seaboard from Newfoundland, to Maine, to Virginia, the Carolinas, and to the islands..