|Return to Index|
MacGREGOR Septs and Aliases*
* Alias, from the Latin term "alias dictus"
literally meaning - in another time, written as.
Are you a MacGregor in disguise -and don't know it? Check out the following lists and see if your name is there. If it is, perhaps you should check your family tree for previous name changes. If there is no doubt, you are really a MacGregor -
Welcome to the Family!
As every history buff knows, the MacGregors suffered more than any other clan, and had to change their family name under four proscriptions upon threat of death.
The reason for this, was pure greed on the part of those in high positions.
No other clan has as many 'aliases' as we do.
The vast majority of those who were forced to abandon their family name for another have no recollection today of who they really are and what their unfortunate circumstances were in those times when the name 'MacGregor' struck fear into Kings and commoners alike.
When English invaders, Germanic Lowlanders and Campbell assassins hunted them down as wild beasts of the forest by day, the MacGregors struck back at night.
Although they were at first set upon by Stuart Kings, and then the Campbells; when the English turned against Scotland's Royal family, the MacGregors were called upon to defend Scotland's own. MacGregors never flinched; They went down with Charles II, the old Pretender (James III), and finally Bonnie Prince Charlie, after which the entire Highland population of Scotland was afforded a few of the measures that the MacGregors had for so long endured..
The result was the forced removal of an entire
population from the Scottish highlands, leaving a barren lifeless landscape,
where once there had been a thriving culture of united Picts and Scots.
The last Pict King of Alba was known as
clearly indicating our Pictic roots.
From that sprung the Gaelic family name of
(literally - son of Grioghair)
The modern correct spelling in English is "MacGregor "
Some variations of its spelling are listed:
MacGreigor, MacGrigor, McGregare, McGregur, McGreigor, McGrigor, Mcgreger, Grigor, mcGrigour, Makriggour, Grigorson.
In the Glens controlled by the Clan Gregor, there were many family names that were universally known as being MacGregors. They are listed below:
In addition -The names my forebears were forced assume until reprieve day were of two types;
Names of MacGregor (landlords) and/or protectors (in alphabetical order):
Campbell, Cunningham, Dougall, Douglas, Drummond, Gordon, Grant, Leitch, MacAlster, MacEwan, MacPherson, Menzies, Murray, Ramsay, Stewart, Stuart..
Author's note: People with these above names are to be forgiven for not being aware of their actual heritage. MacGregors therein are probably lost forever being assimilated into those other families.
Note: There is a well attested and documented tradition that the MacGregors of Ardinconnell adopted the surname "Stewart" and fled to Ireland, becoming in due course Marquesses of Londonderry.
The MacGegor clan lands, at their zenith, encompassed a large and irregular area encompassing many secluded and isolated Glens (Valleys). It was a common practice for MacGregors in separated areas to be known under various names. Sometimes by a person's trade, (MacLeisters and Fletchers were arrow makers) other times by his appearance. (Malloch means big-headed) i.e. In an historical account it was written -
'The MacIvers, or MacLivers were of Glen Lyon; the MacGruders, and Fletchers inhabited Glen Orchy; the MacNishes or MacNeishes had their abode in Glen Dochart. But they were all MacGregors not far under the skin. After the name was banned, they took up another forty surnames, so they could obey the letter of the Act of the Privy Council in 1606, and again in 1693. Once again they all knew one another for who they really were - and when they were threatened, they coalesced like beads of mercury to ravage their tormentors and send chills of fear throughout the southern Highlands..'
Names some MacGregors used that were known as Septs or legal
Alpin, Fletcher, Fisher, Greer, Gregg, Gregor, Gregorson, Gregory, Gregson, Greig,
Grierson, Grigor, Gruer, (sometimes anglicized to
Brewer), King, MacAdam,
MacGruer, MacNie, Malloch, Neish, Patullo, Peter, Peters, Petrie, Skinner.
Names MacGregors fabricated that are documented aliases:
Bain, Black, Bower, Bowers, Callum, Coleman, Comrie, Dochart, Erskine, Gilmore, Lackey, Landless, Landels, Leckie, Lecky, MacAree, MacChoiter, MacConachie, MacCrouther, McGee/Magee, MacGrewar, MacGrowther, MacGruder, MacGruther, MacIldoy, MacLaughlin, MacLeister, MacLiver, MacNee, MacNeish, MacNish, MacNey, MacNie, MacNish, MacPetrie, MacMalloch, MacStay, Neish, Nish, Orr, Peterkin, Petrie, Roy, Royal, Shankland, Stirling, Stringer, White, Whyte, Willox.
Note: Many of these names have several spelling deviations not listed here.
Names MacGregors fabricated that are traditional but with little documentation:
Argyl, Arrowsmith, Bennett, Bowmaker, Card, Cart, Carter, Caird, Callendar, Clark, Crerar, Dennison, Docharty, Docherty, Dowie, Fisher, Foxton, Gair, Goodsir, Grayson, Gudger, Kirkwood, MacCanish, MacGrew, Moore, Mustard, Nucator, Peat, Peterson, Pyatt, Rees, Stalker, Tainsh, Walker, Wanamaker.
Author's note: The full story of some of these names and others, scroll down the page to "MacGregor Associated Names." Most of these above names are unique and perhaps should be reverted to the proper "MacGregor."
And what about "McGregor"
"McGregor" is merely a misspelling of the proper form "MacGregor." If you want further clarification, check with any "Clan Gregor" Society or with the Scottish Law Society. In the 1950s, a whisky distiller in Scotland was taken to court by the clan Gregor Society and legally forced to change the name of their brand from 'McGregor' to 'MacGregor.' Check it out at any better liquor store in the USA.
Companies have been taken to court for this common misspelling and the proponents of spelling it correctly as "MacGregor" have always won. To prove this point, tell some stranger your name is MacGregor and watch how it is spelled when it is written down. Government officials are not any exemption. My own father's gravestone was labeled 'McGregor' by the Canadian federal Department of Veterans' Affairs. (It was later replaced by me with the correct spelling). There are usually twice as many 'McGregors' as 'MacGregors' in any city telephone book.
MacGregor Associated Names
Most associated names have a hazy history. Sometimes they had more than one
origin; also clouding the precise location of a particular surname might be
that name's proscription or of course a migrant population. Even the
spelling of surnames was subject to great variations, shifting from Latin or Gaelic and
heeding rarely to consistent spelling. In early records, there could be
several spellings of the same name. Undoubtedly contributing to this
inconsistency is the handwriting of official records, which was often open to more than
one spelling interpretation.
With regard to the 'Mac' prefix, this was of course, from the Gaelic meaning "son of". It wasn't long before it was abbreviated to 'Mc'-or-'M' until we have reached the point now where there are more 'Mc's than 'Mac's.
BENNETT From Saint Benedict, a popular Saint throughout the middle ages.
BLACK From Gaelic 'Dhu'. This nick-name was often placed on certain
well-known MacGregors, not because of any "black" deeds but because of one's
black hair, or sometimes a black spot (mole or birthmark) on an exposed area, such as a
knee. Sometimes this name stuck, especially when the proper
"MacGregor" became unlawful.
COMRIE From a name place in Perthshire. At the time
of one of the proscriptions of the MacGregors, some of the clan moved to
Comrie on the opposite bank from the village, from which they assumed the name.
DOCHART This is one of the more interesting of the MacGregor pseudonyms. One day, a group of the clan, while being pursued as outlaws, escaped by swimming a river running out of Loch Dochart. In gratitude for their deliverance they assumed the family name of 'Dochart.'
FLETCHER Originating from French,
"fleche" (arrow), "flechier", (arrow-maker), with Fletcher a
later corruption. This family was one of the earliest MacGregor Septs and were
traditional arrow makers to the MacGregors. These 'Fletcher' MacGregors
originally inhabited the most difficult parts of Glenorchy, Achallader and
Baravurich. Their stronghold was Achalladar Castle, on the shores of Loch
Tulla. Ewin Flegicare granted remission for holding Dumbarton Castle against
the king in 1489. In 1631, a Fletcher of Innerpeffray, was listed as
Flesher, then in 1647 as Flescheur.
GAIR From Gaelic "gearr" (short) Ewin McVean Gair of Urquhart was fined for reset (giving assistance) to Clan Gregor. John Dow Gair, of Clan MacGregor, was killed at Enzie, Kieth, Aberdeenshire.
GREGOR, GREGORSON, GREGORY are Variants of the early clan name. Under the name Gregory, many MacGregors fled to the lowlands where they excelled as scholars and professionals. In his lifetime, Rob Roy was a guest of his Gregory cousin who was a professor of medicine at the University of Aberdeen.
First appeared commonly in Fife and the north-east. Patrick Grige, burgess of Aberdeen, 1488. Johannes Greg,
councilor, 1502. David Greg, Stirling
The Norwegian composer's Scottish ancestry from John Greig of Fraserburgh.
GRIER Often thought abbreviation of MacGregor. Also later diminutive of Grierson.. (See next paragraph).
GRIERSON Comes from Dumfriesshire [a place called Lag]. The earliest MacGregors there arrived in the 14th century and used " Grierson" though sometimes, it was later shortened to Grier. The Grierson family is descended from Gilbert, 2nd son of Malcolm, 11th (The Lame) Lord of MacGregor (died 1374), and ally of Robert the Bruce. This Gilbert MacGregor took the name of Grierson, in accordance with charters granted in 1400, by George de Dunbar, Earl of March, conveying the Lands of Airde, Tyrcrome, Overholm, Netherholm, and Dalgarnock, in the Barony of Tybris, to him and his male heirs using the name of Grierson.
John Greyson or Grierson, about 1526-59 was a provincial friar at Perth. At Kincardine, many names were Grierson, formerly M'Gregor.
GRIGOR Variant of Gregor. The northern Grigors are mostly descended from 300 MacGregors, whom the Earl of Moray moved in 1624 to the north from his Monteith estate, to protect against the similarly fierce MacIntoshes.
GRUER See MacGruer.
KING Spread throughout Scotland at an early time, including shires of Berwick, Fife and Aberdeen. Some proscribed MacGregors are known to have assumed the name.
LANDELS A corruption of "Landless" that was assumed by a family of MacGregors who lost land in the Grampians area and were recorded, through baptisms, in Edinburgh about 1607. The "S" was added later.
MACADAM From Gaelic, MacAdaim, son of Adam. The
famous road builder, John MacAdam, who fled to Ayrshire in the first half of the 16th
century was a descendant of a MacGregor.
MACARA From Gaelic for, (Charioteer. Still current in Perthshire the Macaras are a MacGregor sept, originally around Balquhidder and Crieff.
MACCONACHIE From Gaelic "MacDhornchaidh",( son of Duncan). According to clan authority Frank Adam, MacConachie is derived from Duncan, 17th Chief of Clan MacGregor, who had three sons by his second wife.
MCGEE, MCGEHEE One of the simplest aliases to explain; What could be simpler than to merely take the first letter of "GREGOR" as a surname and simultaneously thumb your nose at the authorities?
From Gaelic Macgrudaire, (brewer.) This professional name sometimes became
Brewer but 'Mac' prefix followed by grudaire variants were common, particularly in South
Perthshire. Many of this name and its variants were followers of MacGregor and
MACIVER Many MacGregor clansmen travelled westward with Alexander II's army to quell a rebellion by the MacDonalds in Argyleshire in 1221. The MacDonalds and the MacLeods were at that time loyal only to the Kings of Norway, and the Scottish kings were anxious to bring them into line. To ensure this area remained loyal to the Scottish throne, these soldiers were awarded lands in Lergachonzie and Askonish. In 1688, the "MacIvers" were forced to take the name of Campbell, as punishment for Iver of Asknish's part in a rebellion. The MacIver sept had their own tartan which closely replicated that of the MacGregors.
MACNEE, MACNIE From Irish Mac niadh, which is a variant of Macneidhe, son of Nia, the champion. Macnia was a district king in county Down, 702AD. Donald McNie and Gillemoire McNie were fined in Balquhidder, 1613, for receiving stolen property from Clan Gregor. (MacGregors under the skin, eh?)
MACSTAY, MCSTAY One day, a group of MacGregors swore an
oath they would never change their name from MacGregor, that they would stay with
"MacGregor" forever, come what may. Later, when they were forced upon pain
of death to change their name, in a show of defiance, they chose "MacStay" for a
reason only they were cognizant of.
MALLOCH Two possible origins for name. Mallochs were MacGregors who changed their names at the time of the proscription and/or they were named because of an ancestor with heavy eyebrows. Duncan Malloche , an officer in Urquhart was fined for receiving stolen property from Clan MacGregor, 1613.
ORR, Three possible origins for this name: a common name early in Renfrewshire, likely after an old family there, or from the Gaelic 'odhar', (sallow complexion, colourless). Those in these groups were originally MacGregor followers (septs). Also, some took the last syllable of Greg, which actually is the strongest emphasized part of the name, (so as not to be confused with 'Greger', which is incorrect.)
PETER, PETERS, PETRIE From personal name, a rock, in Latin and Greek, and possibly former MacGregors assumed name at time of clan's proscription. Probably from an old Gaelic saying (in English), 'MacDonalds are the heather and MacGregors are the rock.' A certain 'John Peter' was charged in 1636 with resetting MacGregors.
ROYAL, A name taken from the MacGregor clan motto, and used extensively in
England by MacGregors there.
SKINNER, Occupational derivation for name, flayer of hides, Latin (pelliparius).
SHANKLAND, A subsect of the MacGregors. Created before 1500 in the Drumfries area. Descended from the Grierson (MacGregor) family. The Register of the Great Seal extant had a record of "John Shankland" with surname variations of Shankieland, Shankilaw, Schankland, Shankill and Shanklin with references to property at Leamingtom, Lanarkshire, Scotland and a seized estate in Ireland, (as a result of fighting on the losing side in the Battle of the Boyne).
STIRLING & SKIRLING, Recent Y-DNA tests have proven these two families and their derivatives are more tightly related to the main MacGregor line than many who have the surname MacGregor! Statistical analysis suggests their separation from the main MacGregor line happened anywhere from 450-800 years ago, and further analysis seems to suggest that the Skirlings may have had their origins in the original MacGregor homeland of GlenOrchy
WHITE, WHYTE From old Gaelic,
'ban'. White, as personal name and nickname. Whyte is also Anglicized from Gaelic
'M'Illebhain.' It is also believed these two names were assumed by Clan Gregor
members at the times of the clan's several proscriptions.
It must be remembered that the ancient Picts were named "Albiones" (white skinned ones) by the Greek merchant/seamen who first met them.
Did you know that Ireland was known to the Romans and to their world as "Scotia" for hundreds of years? The sea raiders from Ireland who harassed the Romans in England were known as "Scotti".
An alphabetical listing of MacGregor pseudonyms
Arrowsmith, Bain, Balfour, Beachley, Begland, Bennett, Black, Bower, Bowers, Bowmaker, Brewer,
Brimer, Buchanan, Caird, Card, Cart, Carter, Callander, Callum, Campbell, Clark, Coleman, Comrie,
Craigdallie, Crerar, Crowther, Cunningham, Dennison, Denson, Dochart, Docharty, Docherty,
Dougalson, Douglas, Dowie, Drummond, Erskine, Fergusson, Fisher, Fletcher,
Gair, Geuer, Goodlad, Goodsir, Gordon, Gragg, Graham, Grant, Grear, Greear, Greer,
Greig, Gregg, Greir, Gregor, Gregorson, Gregory, Gregson, Grewar, Grey, Greyson, Grier,
Greason, Greerson, Greirson, Grierson, Griesck, Grigg, Grigor, Gruer, Gudger, Guiness,
Johnson, Johnston, Johnstone, King, Kirkpatrick, Kirkwood, Lackey, Laikie, Landless, Leckie,
Lecky, Livingston, Livingstone, MacAlastair, MacAdam, MacAdams, MacAinsh, MacAlaster,
MacAldowie, MacAldowie, MacAlester, MacAlpin, MacAlpine, MacAndrew,
MacAngus, MacAnish, MacAra, MacAree, MacAulay, MacCainsh, MacCance, MacCansh,
MacChoiter, MacConachie, MacCondach, MacCondochie, MacConnochi, MacCruiter, MacCrouther,
MacCrowther, MacDougal, MacDougall, MacEan, MacEwen, MacGeach, MacGehee, MacGrew,
MacGrewar, MacGrigor, MacGrory, MacGrouther, MacGrowther, MacGruder, MacGruer, MacGrumen,
MacGruther, MacIldowie, Macildny, MacIlduff, MacIlduy, MacInnes, MacInstalker, MacIntyre,
MacIver, MacIvor, MacKinnon, MacLeister, MacLiver, MacNab, MacNay,
MacNea, MacNee, MacNeice, MacNeish, MacNess, MacNey, MacNie, MacNiesh, MacNish,
MacNocaird, MacNucator, MacPeter, MacPetrie, MacStay, MacVie, MacWilliam, Magian, MaGrew, McAlpine,
McDonald, McDougal, McEwan, McGee, McGehee, McGreer, McGrier, MaGruder, McIan,
McIain, McLaren, McNeil, McNicol, McWilliam, Malloch, Menzies, Murray, Neilson,
Neish, Nelson, Nice, Nish, Nucator, O'Greer, Orr, Paterson, Patterson, Pattullo, Peat,
Peter, Peterkin, Peters, Peterson, Petrie, Ramsay, Robertson, Roy, Royal, Shankland,
Sinclair, Skinner, Stalker, Stewart, Stirling, Stringer, Stuart, Tainsh, Tossack,
Walker, Weliver, White, Whyte, Wilcox, Willox, Wilson.
Code: Names in Purple are surnames that were assumed from within branches of the Siol Alpin Confederacy, of which the Clan Gregor was the senior member. Names in Blue are surnames of non-MacGregor families assumed to gain the protection of certain sympathetic branches of those families. The surnames in black are invented names to afford instant protection from the authorities who considered the use of MacGregor as a capital offence. (Many families adopted the Christian name of the father as their surname.) It should be noted that the use of all of these above listed assumed names were at the time deemed to be merely temporary.