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


The ancient Scottish name Saw is carried by the descendents of the Pictish people. It was a name for a person who shared some of the qualities attributed to a wolf. Saw is a nickname surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. The surname Saw is derived from the Gaelic first name Sithech, which means wolf.

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The surname Saw was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland, where the family appears to have been firmly entrenched in the Eastern coastal regions well before 1000 AD. While some claim that the Clan originally descended from a MacDuff, one of the ancient Earls of Fife, the first official mention in documents shows them to be present at the General Council held by King Malcolm at Forfar in 1061. However, this ancient leadership was challenged by many other Clans Commyns (Cummings) who had leased the Shaw lands of Rothiemurchus.

When the first dictionaries were invented in the last few hundred years, spelling gradually became standardized. Before that time, scribes spelled according to sound. Names were often recorded under different spelling variations every time they were written. Saw has been written Shaw, Shawe, Mac Ghille-Sheathanaich (Gaelic) and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Saw research. Another 424 words (30 lines of text) covering the years 1178, 1226, 1405, 1411, 1527, 1608, 1672, 1692, 1751, 1774, 1776, 1799, 1804, 1826, 1832, 1849, and 1876 are included under the topic Early Saw History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Saw Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Saw family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 137 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The crossing to North America did not seem so great in comparison with the hardships many Scots endured at home. It was long, expensive, and cramped, but also rewarding. North America offered land and the chance for settlers to prove themselves in a new place. And many did prove themselves as they fought to forge a new nation in the American War of Independence. The ancestors of those Scots can now experience much of their once-lost heritage through the Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up across North America in the last century. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Saw:

Saw Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Adam Saw, who arrived in Maryland in 1665

Saw Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Henry Saw, aged 22, a bricklayer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Caroline"

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  1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  4. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  6. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  8. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  9. 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).
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Saw Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Saw 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 4 March 2011 at 13:07.

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