Quay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the name Quay are found among the Pictish clans of ancient Scotland. The name comes from the personal name Aodh, a cognate of Hugh. The Gaelic form of the name is usually Mac Aoidh and in Inverness, the Gaelic form of the name Quay is Mac Ai.

"Nothing certain is known of the origin of the northern Mackays beyond the fact that they were early connected with Moray, and may have been a part of the ancient Clann Morgunn. The Inverness-shire Mackays are usually called in Gaelic Mac Ai, that is, MacDhai, or Davidson; they formed a branch of Clan Chattan." [1]

Early Origins of the Quay family

The surname Quay was first found in Sutherland (Gaelic: Cataibh), a former county in northern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Highland, where early records show that Gilcrest M'Ay, forefather of the MacKay family of Ugadale, made a payment to the constable of Tarbert in 1326. It is claimed that the Clan is descended from the royal house of MacEth.

Early History of the Quay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Quay research. Another 299 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1408, 1411, 1429, 1329, 1506, 1575, 1873, 1940, 1640, 1692, 1689, 1726, 1692 and are included under the topic Early Quay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Quay Spelling Variations

Although Medieval Scotland lacked a basic set of spelling rules, which meant that scribes recorded names according to their sounds it was not uncommon for the names of a father and son to be recorded differently. As a result, there are many spelling variations of Scottish single names. Quay has been written MacKay, MacCay, MacQuey, MacQuoid, MacKaw, MacKy, MacKye, MacCoy, McCoy and many more.

Early Notables of the Quay family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Hugh Mackay (c. 1640-1692), Scottish general, Major-General Commanding in Chief in Scotland in 1689, killed at the Battle of Steinkeerke; and...
Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Quay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Quay family to Ireland

Some of the Quay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 133 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Quay migration to the United States +

Thousands of Scots left their home country to travel to Ireland or Australia, or to cross the Atlantic for the North American colonies. The difficult crossing was an enormous hurdle, but those who survived found freedom and opportunity in ample measure. Some Scots even fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence. This century, their ancestors have become aware of the illustrious history of the Scots in North America and at home through Clan societies and other organizations. Passenger and immigration lists show many early and influential immigrants bearing the name Quay:

Quay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Quay, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1806 [2]
  • Andrew Quay, who arrived in South Carolina in 1810-1813 [2]
  • William Quay, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1875 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Quay (post 1700) +

  • Richard R. Quay, American Republican politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1891-92; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1912 [3]
  • Matthew Stanley Quay (1833-1904), American Republican politician, Secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1873-78, 1879-82; Pennsylvania Republican State Chair, 1878-79, 1902-03; Pennsylvania State Treasurer, 1886-87 [3]
  • Joseph F. Quay, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State Senate 12th District, 1844-46 [3]
  • John P. Quay, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from New Britain, 1926 [3]
  • Bob Quay, American politician, Mayor of Kennewick, Washington, 1992-93 [3]
  • Hugh Quay Parmer (1939-2020), American attorney, University professor, international humanitarian executive, and Democratic politician


The Quay 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: Manu forti
Motto Translation: With a strong hand.


  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. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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