Last name: McDonald

This is probably the most famous of Scottish clan surnames. Recorded in the modern spellings of MacDonald and McDonald, the derivation is from the pre 10th century Gaelic name Mac Dhomhnuill. This is a compound which translates literally as "The son of the world ruler". Whilst this may not have been the actual meaning fifteen hundred years ago, it is perhaps not entirely coincidental that one branch of the clan are known as "The Lords of the Isles". This was an assumed title, which much resented by early Scottish kings, King David 11 in the year 1369 going to considerable, if unsuccessful lengths, to try to dispossess them by force. In the Gaelic the name was pronounced Mak Oonil, and attempts at pronunciation have rendered a variety of spellings including; MakChonehill (1479), McConile (1570), Mak Donald (1571) and M'Oneill (1576). Early church registers in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh record the christening of John, the son of Alane McDonald, on July 4th 1672, and the marriage of John McDonald and Grissell McFuffan on July 29th 1687. Among the many famous nameholders are Flora MacDonald (1722 - 1790), the rescuer of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, and Sir John MacDonald, (1815 - 1891), the first premier of the Dominion of Canada. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Therthelnac MakDonenalde. This was dated 1251, when he was a charter witness at Lesmore, during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.

i to am an mcdonald my family was nearly wiped out by a family by the campbells only afew escaped. This is what my dad says

Mike McDonald
Hello. McDonald, the most famous Scottish Clan, celebrates our Irish Ness. You have a very recent history of Clan Donald ancestry. Why have you omitted our decent from Conn of Tara, through Cholla Uais, down through Fergus Mor Mac Erca, to Somerled? We are as Irish as any clan in Ireland. We are the direct descendants of the kings of Dalriada. The so-called "Scots" came from Ireland. I would like to see an updated heritage, to include our Emerald Green Irish Roots!!!! I'm not complaining, I just want people to know about Scotland's Irish roots - through the Irish kingdom of Dalriada and my clan's Irish DNA. By the way, three out of four elements on our crest are Irish. The only one which is not is the ship. Look at the background colors and you'll see the flah or Ireland - White, Green and Gold. Is it any wonder???

Jason McDonald
Ive done some tracing of my family the McDonald clan they landed in North Carolina in 1756 that is where many of my family still live thats where the trail has gone cold

I know the clan I am from and he came to Nova Scotia Canada in the 1770s.

Josh Strout
I just started to research the last name of my late wifes to help my daughter learn more about mom. If you have any info or good way or place to start i am all ears. Here is my email

My ancestors, John MacDonald b. in Assynth Southerlandshire, Scotland m. Marion Grant. Any connecdtions? Please e-mail at

I know absolutely nothing of my ancestors. I only know I am Scot, my maiden name is Janet MacDonald. My family didn't share or care. How do I research my heritage, where do I start?

Oh, I should leave an email address as I may never find this site again. Forgot to include that my family lived in N.Y. State. Our family really never shared anything, but I need to know.

Frances McDonald
So what is the difference between me being a McDonald vs. a MacDonald. I've always been told I had irish heritage not Scottish, I know my ancestors are from Ireland! I'm so confused!

Sarah McDonald
Hi, I'm Sarah McDonald I am a third generation Irish descendent I know almost nothing of my whereabouts of ancestors my grandparents(they were Irish) died very young long before I was born and never learned anything from my heritage all I know is my grandparents came over as children in about 1915 and that they had recently lived in a small village name mayo in Ireland the village had been destroyed in a war against Northern Ireland long before they were born and ended up taking refuge in America.


I'm a McDonald out here in the pacific island of Guam. My McDonald is from the Boston branch. Our grand father was born in America to john mcdonald from Nova Scotia and Mary creely from Ireland.

Hazel Fisher

Alexander Mac Donald family tree in 1768 is going in the South Shore Exhibition in Nova Scotia on 22 of July it is in Thomas Raddal Park for people to see

David Mc Donald

Hi...I'm looking for the exact birthplace in Scotland, of my GGG Grandfather Samuel William McDonald who was born on April, 14, 1838. Here is a list of potential names from the 1841 Scotland Census: Samuel Mc Donald abt 1838 Inverness, Scotland , Harris, Inverness 111 Samuel Mc Donald abt 1837 Ayrshire, Scotland, Beith, Ayrshire 581 Samuel Mc Donald abt 1839 Inverness, Scotland Kilmonivaig, Inverness 99 Samuel Mc Donald abt 1836 Inverness, Scotland, North Uist, Inverness 113 I believe that the Samuel Mc Donald from Kilmonivag is my ancestor but I can't confirm it. Can you please help me? If you came across or researched a Samuel Mc Donald that was born on April 14, 1838/1839, please e-mail or if you want to take up a challenging project and help me research this person, that would be great. My e-mail address is Thank you David Mc Donald

marvin mcdonald

hi im looking to find my out my history I am of African decent with the last name McDonald so there is a confusion of if there is Scottish blood running thourgh my veins

Malissa McDonald
I'm from SC grand parents are David Sr and Mary Ballard McDonald. I am interested in finding living relatives and ancestors.

Jasianna McDonald
I am a Adrian American female and I have the last name McDonald my father is from Jamaica and so are both my grandmothers and one of my grandpas I don't know anything about my last name other than its a restaurant 😑 I came here hopeful to find out anything about it and maybe my culture other than American

Jasianna McDonald
Sorry for the spelling errors,I'm African American so are my parents with both being Jamaican well my mother half due to my nana(Grandma)can someone Please tell me something about my last name am I mixed with Irish,Scottish anything and why thanks!It be nice to understand a little more about myself

a McDonald
I'm Irish not scottish McDonald not Mac. my family has a bunch of genealogists and we are quite POSITIVE we are Irish NOT scottish. We have fought in the American revolution. And WE ARE sick and tired of people getting this mixed up. Please put down McDonald down as a separate family. Just because the two families GOT married does NOT mean that we are the same family. This IS 2015 people this should be fixed by now.

Hi I'm Melanie McDonald I was born in Scotland my family's names are McPhee I'm from traveler decent x

Zacharia McDonald
This place is awesome I believe I am not Irish I am all Scot I want to go to my homeland and never come back.

Alice McDonald
my great great father:?my grandfather was James McDonald born in 1881 i believe his father was also James but i am not sure of the date of his birth .i would like to know his father also .we were raised in a little town called Norris Arm Nfld . my dad was George Leonard McDonald and his mom was Alice Gunn of Botwood Ville nfld

Richard McDonald, Jr
Does anyone know of any McDonald's who are of Micmaq origin, in Nova Scotia. My paternal great-grandfather was from the Glace Bay/Cape Breton Area

alice mcdonald
my grandfather was james mcdonald who was born in gambo nfld and her married alice gunn and her mothers married name was bridget gun. My grand father james and my great grandfather was james also .i was wondering who my great grandmother was?my father was george leonard mcdonald and my mom was mary ann collins she had 13 children and we where raised in a little town called Norris Arm Nfld.

McDonald is my great, great, great... grandfather's slave name that was given to him by his owner, which our family wear today. Our original root name...

jonathan Patrick
my mother side of the family are Mcdonalds and they live in in the crossabeg area and ferns area in county Wexford ireland.

Ray MacDonald
My GG grandfather, Daniel McDonald, who settled in Maine about 1815-20. There is scant record of Daniel who was last located in Lawrence, MA about 1849. That is all that is known of him, Also, there is no record of this family and where they emigrated from. It is suggested that they may have come through Canada. I know that there are McDonalds in both Scotland and Ireland, Especially Northern Ireland. Any suggestions on how to search where this family came from? In case you are wondering, my grandfather changed his name to MacDonald c. 1896 in NH.

Candy mcdonald
My grandpa was gerald mcdonald we are in kansas city (on my dads side) however my grand mother (on my moms side) was elizabeth (loretta) mcdonald i dont know either of their parents names and am a bit curious on how it came about that i came from two lines of mcdonalds and are there connections along the lines or am i from two seperate lines and what are their origins

Melody McDonald Goodman
My great great great grandfather was Jared McDonald son of Archibald McDonald who came from Scotland, I am wondering if there is any trace back to Ireland if anyone knows please contact me at


james mcdonald born to a james mcdonald
james mcdonald was my grandfather but i can't seem to find a year of his birth it could be 1888 or 1881 .He was born in gambo nfld and his father was a james.

alice mcdonald
there is a Danial McDonald mentioned nfld census for Gambo NFLD.i believe he was my great great uncle .along with Edward and Diane and so on.check surname mcdonald at ST. Brendan's Gambo NFLD.hope it helps

Subscribe to our newsletter

View previous newsletters.

Powered by MailChimp