Show ContentsReith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Scottish name Reith is carried by the descendents of the Pictish people. It was a name for a prosperous person. The Gaelic form of the surname Reith is Mac Rath, which literally means son of grace or son of prosperity.

Early Origins of the Reith family

The surname Reith was first found in Inverness-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) divided between the present day Scottish Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles, and consisting of a large northern mainland area and various island areas off the west coast, the shire was anciently both a Pictish and Norwegian stronghold, but their ancient history is often clouded with conjecture. It appears certain that they lived before the 14th century at Clunes, to the west of Inverness in the territories of the Fraser Clan. Consequently the family has always been friendly towards that Clan. From about 1400, they moved to the location with which they are readily associated, Kintail.

Early History of the Reith family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Reith research. Another 548 words (39 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1425, 1477, 1505, 1539, 1688, 1715, 1745, 1764, 1778 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Reith History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reith Spelling Variations

Translation has done much to alter the appearance of many Scottish names. It was a haphazard process that lacked a basic system of rules. Spelling variations were a common result of this process. Reith has appeared MacCrae, MacCraith, MacCrath, MacCraw, MacCray, MacCrea, MacCree, MacCreight, MacCrie, MacReagh, MacRae, MacRay, MacRie and many more.

Early Notables of the Reith family

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Finghin MacCarthy Reagh (c.1425-1505), the 8th Prince of Carbery from 1477 to 1505, belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh dynasty; the Earl of Seaforth who forfeited his lands in 1715, but in 1764 was allowed to buy the lands back from the Government. In gratitude he offered to raise a regiment to be known as the Seaforth Highlanders (the 78th Regiment). Composed largely of MacKenzies and MacRaes (always loyal supporters of the MacKenzies whose Chief commanded the Regiment), it was embodied at Elgin in May 1778...
Another 92 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Reith Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reith Ranking

In the United States, the name Reith is the 18,029th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 1

Ireland Migration of the Reith family to Ireland

Some of the Reith family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 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 Reith migration to the United States +

Many Scots left their country to travel to the North American colonies in search of the freedom they could not find at home. Of those who survived the difficult voyage, many found the freedom they so desired. There they could choose their own beliefs and allegiances. Some became United Empire Loyalists and others fought in the American War of Independence. The Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up in the last century have allowed many of these disparate Scots to recover their collective national identity. A search of immigration and passenger ship lists revealed many early settlers bearing the Reith name:

Reith Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Georg Reith, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1747 2
  • Ferdinand Reith, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1749 2
  • Johan Georg Reith, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1754 2
  • Konrad Reith, who landed in America in 1782 2
  • Mathias Reith, who arrived in New York, NY in 1782 2
Reith Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Johannes Reith, who landed in America in 1833 2
  • Heinrich Reith, aged 19, who landed in Texas in 1844 aboard the ship "Weser" 2
  • Barbara Reith, aged 27, who landed in New York, NY in 1848 2
  • Joseph Reith, who arrived in North America in 1852 2
Reith Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Theodorus Gerardus Reith, who landed in Alabama in 1924 2

Canada Reith migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Reith Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Friederike Reith, who landed in Quebec in 1850

Contemporary Notables of the name Reith (post 1700) +

  • John Charles Walsham Reith KT, GCVO, GBE, CB, TD, PC (1889-1971), 1st Baron Reith, Scottish civil engineer/pioneer of broadcasting
  • Peter Keaston Reith AM (1950-2022), Australian politician, Minister for Defence (2001) Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations (1998-2001), Minister for Small Business (1997-2001)
  • General Sir John George Reith KCB, CBE (b. 1948), Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe

The Reith 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: Fortitudine
Motto Translation: With fortitude.

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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) on Facebook