Show ContentsNear History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Picts of ancient Scotland were the tribe of the ancestors of the Near family. The name Near is derived from the personal name John. The Gaelic form of their name was originally Mac-Iain-uidhir, which means son of dun John. However, the Near family of Perth traditionally derive their name from M'an-oighre, which means son of the heir. Experts have also theorized that the surname Near may be derived from Mac-an-fhuibir, which means son of the smith, or Mac-an-huidhir, which means son of the stranger.

Early Origins of the Near family

The surname Near was first found in Perth, 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.

Further to the south in England, the Menaire, Menear, Manhire and other variants claim descent from Walter Maenhir who was listed in Devon in 1293. The very rare variant Manhire traces back to Ellis Menheire who was listed in Devon in 1642. 1

Early History of the Near family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Near research. Another 100 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1392, 1526, 1546, 1776 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Near History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Near Spelling Variations

Scribes in the Middle Ages did not have access to a set of spelling rules. They spelled according to sound, the result was a great number of spelling variations. In various documents, Near has been spelled MacNair, MacNaire, MacNayer, MacNeir, MacNuir, Menair and many more.

Early Notables of the Near family

Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Near Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Near Ranking

In the United States, the name Near is the 13,203rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 2

Ireland Migration of the Near family to Ireland

Some of the Near family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Near migration to the United States +

The cruelties suffered under the new government forced many to leave their ancient homeland for the freedom of the North American colonies. Those who arrived safely found land, freedom, and opportunity for the taking. These hardy settlers gave their strength and perseverance to the young nations that would become the United States and Canada. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the name Near:

Near Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • C. B. Near, aged 40, who landed in America, in 1903
  • Gertrude Near, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1903
  • J.M. Near, aged 27, who settled in America, in 1921
  • Frank Near, aged 35, who immigrated to the United States, in 1922
  • Lionel Near, aged 36, who landed in America, in 1923

Canada Near migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Near Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Near U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 3
Near Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Susan Near, aged 40, who settled in Toronto, Canada, in 1913
  • William Wallace Near, aged 57, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1923

Australia Near migration to Australia +

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

Near Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Near, a stone-cutter, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. John Samuel Near who was convicted in London, England for life, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 4th August 1836, arriving in New South Wales, Australia 4
  • Mr. William Near, English convict who was convicted in Chelmsford, Essex, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Candahar" on 26th March 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) 5

Contemporary Notables of the name Near (post 1700) +

  • Holly Near (b. 1949), American singer-songwriter, actress, teacher, and activist
  • John L. Near, American politician, U.S. Consul in Sarnia, 1865-66 6

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  4. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th October 2020). Retrieved from
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 10) . Retrieved from on Facebook