McSorley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

On the Scottish west coast, the McSorley family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the personal name Somhairle, also known as Somerled. The Gaelic form of the name, Mac Somhairle, translates as son of Somhairle or son of Somerled.

Early Origins of the McSorley family

The surname McSorley was first found in Argyllshire where the Gaelic MacSomhairle 'son of Somhairle, ' or Somerled, Alexander M'Sommarrli was cited in 1355 to give evidence regarding the lands of Glassrie. "He was probably a Lamont of Monydrain in Glassrie as some of this family used the name Macsorley for several generations, but eventually resumed the name Lamont. The lands of Donald Machorle in the sheriffdom of Argyll were in ward, 1488. Other spellings of this Donald's name are McChorle, 1449, and McCowirlee, 1451. In 1511 Angus Lawmont alias M'Quorle was infeft in the three merk lands of Achynchoys. " [1]

"The MacSoirles of Letterfinlay in Lochaber, later called a sept of Clan Cameron, descended from Somerled, armiger to John of Yla, earl of Ross and lord of the Isles. In 1456 Somerled, the son of John, son of Somerled the armiger, received from the lord of the Isles a davoch of the lands of Glennyves along with the office of toscheachdeora (crowner) of all the lands of John of Yla, except the lands pertaining to his foster-child, Lachlan Maclean of Doward. Some writers on Clan history make the Macsorleys a sept of Clan Cameron, but this Somerled had received his charter thirty six years before the Camerons of Lochiel are known to have had any connection with the district." [1]

Early History of the McSorley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McSorley research. Another 312 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1524, 1571, 1577, 1603, 1616, 1647, 1649, 1672, 1675, 1716, 1563, 1530, 1632, 1647, 1672, 1577, 1577, 1211, 1258, 1600, 1571, 1664, 1795, 1615, 1850 and are included under the topic Early McSorley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McSorley Spelling Variations

In various documents McSorley has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. MacSorley, MacSorely, MacSourly, MacCoullie, MacSorrill, MacSorrell, MacSurley and many more.

Early Notables of the McSorley family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the McSorley family to Ireland

Some of the McSorley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 270 words (19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McSorley 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:

McSorley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John McSorley, who landed in America in 1811 [2]
  • James McSorley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1817 [2]
  • T McSorley, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [2]
  • Ann McSorley, aged 11, who landed in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Sarah McSorley, aged 9, who arrived in New York in 1854 [2]

Canada McSorley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McSorley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Catharine McSorley, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eleanor" in 1834

Australia McSorley migration to Australia +

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

McSorley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John McSorley who was convicted in Perth, Scotland for life, transported aboard the "Clara" on 19th March 1857, arriving in Western Australia, Australia [3]

New Zealand McSorley 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:

McSorley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Lousia McSorley, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Leichardt" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 7th August 1865 [4]
  • Miss Annie J. McSorley, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Leichardt" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 7th August 1865 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name McSorley (post 1700) +

  • Cisco A. McSorley (b. 1950), American politician, Democratic member of the New Mexico Senate (1997-)
  • John Bernard "Trick" McSorley (1852-1936), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1875 to 1886
  • Richard T. McSorley, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Pennsylvania State Senate 1st District, 1912 [5]
  • Mary McSorley, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1984 [5]
  • Jeffrey McSorley Jr., American politician, Candidate for Mayor of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, 2012 [5]
  • Camille McSorley, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1920, 1924 [5]
  • A. I. McSorley, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1904 [5]
  • Martin James "Marty" McSorley (b. 1963), Canadian former professional NHL hockey player and actor
  • Gerard McSorley (b. 1950), Irish character actor, known for his work in Braveheart (1995), Robin Hood (2010) and Veronica Guerin (2003)
  • Thomas Holland "Tom" McSorley, Canadian film critic, Executive Director of the Canadian Film Institute
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The McSorley 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: Per mare per terras
Motto Translation: By sea and by land.


  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  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 of Australia (Retrieved 11th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/clara)
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 14) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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