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

Where did the Scottish McTavish family come from? What is the Scottish McTavish family crest and coat of arms? When did the McTavish family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McTavish family history?

On the Scottish west coast, the McTavish family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the personal name Tammas, which is the Lowland Scottish form of Thomas. The Gaelic forms of the name are Mac Tamhais or Mac Thamhais, both of which mean son of Tammas.


In various documents McTavish has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. MacTavish, McTavish, MacTaffish, McTaffish and many more.

First found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, where the first recorded Chief was MacGilla Tamhais whose name became anglicized as MacIltavish. A later Chief, Collen, called the 'good bald Colin' of Dunardarie, son of Gillespick, was directly descended from the Tavish Corr. Although it is reasonably clear that the Clan was settled in Craignish well before 800 AD, the historical records show little of their activities or family relationships. Although many historians list this Clan as a sept of the Campbells, and others claim that a relationship to the Frasers existed, there is no good reason to suppose these relationships were the result of anything other than geographical proximity. There has also been some confusion between the MacTavishes and the MacThomas. Here also, the relationship is tenuous - the Thomsons being a separate Border Clan with its own Chief at that time. The Chief of the MacTavishes is considered to be the MacTavish of Dunardrie.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McTavish research. Another 527 words (38 lines of text) covering the years 1355, 1858, 1997, 1755 and 1815 are included under the topic Early McTavish History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 65 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McTavish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the McTavish family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


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:

McTavish Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Simon McTavish, who arrived in New York in 1764
  • Elizabeth McTavish, who came to New York in 1765
  • Elizabeth McTavish, who landed in New York in 1765
  • Simon McTavish, who landed in New York in 1765
  • Donald McTavish, who arrived in Albany, NY between 1772-1790

McTavish Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • James McTavish, who settled in New York in 1822
  • Isabella McTavish, who arrived in Boston in 1849
  • Mr. McTavish, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850

McTavish Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Catherine McTavish, who came to Quebec in 1815
  • John McIntosh/McTavish, aged 35, a farmer, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Baltic Merchant" in 1815
  • Mary McIntosh/McTavish, aged 29, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Baltic Merchant" in 1815
  • John McIntosh/McTavish, aged 3, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Baltic Merchant" in 1815
  • Ann McIntosh/McTavish, aged 1, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Baltic Merchant" in 1815

McTavish Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John McTavish, aged 32, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Shackamaxon"


  • Megan McTavish (b. 1949), American television actress and soap opera writer
  • Devon McTavish (b. 1984), American soccer player
  • Patrick McTavish (b. 1990), American child actor
  • Robert 'Bob' McTavish (1888-1972), Scottish professional footballer
  • John Kay McTavish (1885-1926), Scottish footballer
  • Graham McTavish (b. 1961), Scottish television actor
  • Robert McTavish, Canadian documentary filmmaker
  • Gordon McTavish (b. 1954), former Canadian professional ice hockey centre
  • Dale B. McTavish (b. 1972), Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • Simon McTavish (1750-1804), Scots-Quebecer entrepreneur and the pre-eminent businessman in Canada



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: Non oblitus
Motto Translation: Do Not Forget Me after Death.


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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. 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.
  5. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  6. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  7. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  9. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  10. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  11. ...

The McTavish Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McTavish 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 18 March 2013 at 21:57.

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