Somerled History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Viking settlers of ancient Scotland were the first to use the name Somerled. It was a name for a the Old Norse word sumarlithi, which means mariner, Viking, summer wanderer, or sailor.

Early Origins of the Somerled family

The surname Somerled was first found in the island of South Uist, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D. Descended from Somerled, King of the Vikings, scion of the MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, who died about 1057.

The first record of the name Somerled being used as a name was at Dunkeld, and the link between this person in 1169 and Somerled who had died 100 years before is not clear.

Another source notes that Sumerled or Somerled, Lord of the Isles (d. 1164), was "according to the Celtic tradition, the son of Gillebrede, son of Gilladoman, sixth in descent from Godfrey MacFergus, called in the Irish chronicle Toshach of the Isles; but some suppose him of Norse origin. " [1]

Early History of the Somerled family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Somerled research. Another 128 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1238 and 1400 are included under the topic Early Somerled History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Somerled Spelling Variations

Intuition and sound were the primary sources medieval scribes used to judge appropriate spellings and translations for names. The spelling of a name thus varied according to who was doing the recording. The different spelling variations of Somerled include Somerled, M'Illurdy, M'Corle, M'Coull, Somerledy and others.

Early Notables of the Somerled family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Somerled Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Somerled migration to the United States +

In their new home, Scots found land and opportunity, and some even fought for their new freedom in the American War of Independence. Some, who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, the ancestors of both of these groups have begun recovering their illustrious national heritage through Clan societies and other Scottish historical organizations. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the Somerled name:

Somerled Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Somerled who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1748


The Somerled 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: Per Mare Per Terras
Motto Translation: By sea and by land.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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