Clan Scott Society
 Common Scottish Surnames and Surname Organizations

Table of Contents
150 Most Common Scottish Surnames in the United States
100 Top Surnames in Scotland
Notes about surnames extracted from Black's 'Surnames of Scotland'
Mac or Mc or neither?
Clan and Family Name Organization websites
PDF Version of the Most Commons Scottish Surnames in Scotland and United States

Confusing the concepts of being Scottish and being Scott-ish, visitors often come to our clan tent at festivals and gatherings seeking to locate the clan for their particular surname.  Responding to this interest, many of our Clan representatives have materials on hand to help these lost Scots find their clan.  Continuing in this tradition of helping fellow Scots find their heritage, we offer information about other Scottish Clan organizations on these web pages.

Underlined surnames below are linked to the home page of a clan or family surname organizations for that surname in the surname ranking lists below.  No significant attempt was made to link sept (associated) surnames to their respective clan organization's web site.  Individual's web sites or genealogy sites are typically not linked to any surname below. 

Surnames not on these lists may appear below under the heading of Clan and Family Name Organizations as do additional links to organization web sites for those surnames which have more than one active web site or organization.  Be sure to check this additional list to be certain you have found all appropriate web sites for a surname.

Hint:
Use your browser's Find function to search for the surname you're interested in. 
(Ctrl-F on most browsers)

If we have missed a clan or family name organization, please send the link to our Webmaster.



150 Most Common Scottish Surnames in the United States
1.   Smith
2.   Brown
3.   Wilson
4.   Anderson
5.   Thompson
6.   Clark
7.   Walker
8.   Young
9.   Scott
10. Mitchell
11. Campbell
12. Stewart
13. Bell
14. Bailey
15. Cooper
16. Watson
17. Ross
18. Henderson
19. Patterson
20. Alexander
21. Hamilton
22. Graham
23. Wallace
24. McDonald
25. Marshall
26. Murray
27. Crawford
28. Boyd
29. Kennedy
30. Burns
31. Gordon
32. Shaw
33. Robertson
34. Ferguson
35. Rose
36. Duncan
37. Cunningham
38. Armstrong
39. Elliott
40. Austin
41. Carr/Kerr
42. Montgomery
43. Johnston(e)
44. Morrison
45. Reid
46. Frazier/Fraser
47. Douglas
48. Fleming
49. Davidson
50. McKinney
51. Craig
52. Fletcher
53. McDaniel
54. Ramsey
55. Cummings/Cumming
56. Stevenson/Stephenson
57. Maxwell
58. Lindsey/Lindsay
59. McBride
60. McLaughlin/MacLachlan
61. Buchanan
62. Logan
63. McKenzie
64. Burnett
65. Nicholson
66. Monroe/Munro
67. Calhoun/Colquholn
68. Bruce
69. Gilmore
70. McClaine/McLaine
71. Keith
72. McDowell
73. McLean
74. McCall
75. McKee
76. Livingston(e)
77. McIntosh
78. McCulloch/McCullough
79. McKnight
80. McMillan
81. McIntyre
82. Gillespie
83. McNeil/McNeal/McNeill
84. McFarland/McFarlane
85. Dunlap/Dunlop
86. McKay
87. McCarty
88. McPherson
89. Stuart
90. McCray
91. McFadden
92. McLeod/McCloud
93. Forbes
94. Guthrie
95. Rankin
96. Hanna/Hannah
97. Lockhart
98. Sinclair
99. Kirkpatrick
100. Dunbar
101. McElroy
102. Leslie/Lesley
103. Sterling/Stirling
104. McLellan/McClelland
105. Burrell/Birral
106. Ritchie
107. McQueen
108. McKinley
109. McLendon
110. McCain
111. McCord
112. Carmichael
113. McCauley/MacAulay
114. Pollock/Polk
115. Irvin/Irvine/Irving
116. McGraw
117. McCollum
118. Kilgore/Kilgour
119. Trotter
120. Akins/Aiken/Eakins
121. McRae
122. McKenna
123. Drummond
124. McNair
125. Laird
126. Abernathy
127. Napier
128. Weir
129. Christie
130. McCracken
131. Crenshaw
132. Witherspoon/Wotherspoon
133. Kincaid/Kincade
134. MacBain/McBean
135. Sherer/Shearer
136. McKinnon
137. Duff
138. Nesbitt/Nisbet
139. McHugh
140. Bowie
141. McGregor
142. Snodgrass
143. Kilpatrick
144. Moffett
145. McCrary
146. McWhorter
147. McDuffie
148. McCurdy
149. McAdams
150. Chisholm

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Top 100 Surnames in Scotland
According to a survey by the Registrar General for Scotland in 1990
1      Smith
2      Brown
3      Wilson
4      Stewart
5      Thomson
6      Campbell
7      Robertson
8      Anderson
9      Scott
10    MacDonald
11    Murray
12    Reid
13    Taylor
14    Clark
15    Young
16    Ross
17    Watson
18    Morrison
19    Mitchell
20    Walker
21    Paterson
22    Fraser
23    Kerr
24    Miller
25    Duncan
26    Hamilton
27    Cameron
28    Gray
29    Johnston
30    Graham
31    Davidson
32    McDonald
33    Henderson
34    Martin
35    Grant
36    Bell
37    Hunter
38    Ferguson
39    Kelly
40    Simpson
41    Allan
42    Black
43    McLean
44    MacLeod
45    MacKenzie
46    Wallace
47    Mackay
48    Marshall
49    Gibson
50    Russell
51    Kennedy
52    Wright
53    Stevenson
54    Gordon
55    Wood
56    Sutherland
57    White
58    Milne
59    Burns
60    Muir
61    Watt
62    McKay
63    McMillan
64    Millar
65    McIntosh
66    Craig
67    Cunningham
68    Munro
69    Hughes
70    Johnstone
71    McKenzie
72    Sinclair
72    Williamson
74    Ritchie
75    Murphy
76    Bruce
77    Jones
78    McGregor
79    Boyle
80    Crawford
81    Fleming
82    Dickson
82    Douglas
82    Shaw
85    McLaughlin
86    Alexander
87    Docherty
88    Jamieson
89    Lindsay
90    King
91    Donaldson
92    Christie
93    Hill
94    McIntyre
95    Findlay
96    Ramsay
97    Aitken
98    McFarlane
99    McLeod
100    Mackie
100    MacLean
Note that different spellings have not been added together. If they had been:

Mac/McDonald would come after Brown
Miller/ar would come after Scott
Johnston/e would come after Miller/ar
Mac/McLean would come after Clark
Mac/McLeod would come after Mac/McLean
Mac/McKenzie would come after Taylor
Mac/McKay would come after Mac/McKenzie.

All of the 'top 50' except McDonald, Kelly, McLean, Wallace and Marshall were in the 'top 100' in 1858, and of the current 'second 50', only Sutherland, White, Munro, Sinclair and MacLean were in the 'top 100' in 1858. This is a significant change in a relatively short time.

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Below is a brief extract from Black's 'Surnames of Scotland'
for the 150 Most Common Scottish Surnames in the United States

Black states quite specifically that the Scottish patronymic is "Mac" and that he regards the contraction to "Mc" or "M' " as incorrect.  This, no doubt, will annoy many a good Scot, both at home and overseas! 

Webmaster's Note:  Mac is the same word as the Gaelic word "meic" meaning "son of" and was used to identify someone, like "son of Dougall," before MacDougall was a surname.  "Mc" is an abbreviation of "Mac". It was written with an apostrophe or two dots below the "c" or other ways, to show that the full "Mac" was shortened. "M'" is the same.  There is no significance if Mc or Mac or M' are used.  Some people will tell you Mc is Irish and Mac is Scottish. This isn't true. The "O'"s (e.g. O'Sullivan) are strictly Irish so any in Scotland probably can trace their ancestors back to 19th century Irish immigrants. But "Mc" and "Mac" are found in both countries.  In some cases, leaving off the "Mac" all together may have occurred somewhere along the way, so someone with the surname MacDonald ("son of Donald") is of the same global family as another person with the surname Donald.  So, when looking for a surname organization or doing genealogy research, be sure to look for the other forms of the surname.
1.   Smith - occupational, as in 'blacksmith or goldsmith' (English)
2.   Brown - descriptive, from the colour (English)
3.   Wilson - patronymic - 'son of William' (English/Norman/Germanic)
4.   Anderson - patronymic - 'son of Andrew' (English/Greek)
5.   Thompson - patronymic - 'son of Thomas' (English/Hebrew) the normal spelling in Scotland is Thomson
6.   Clark - occupational, as clerk (Latin)
7.   Walker - occupational, from 'wealcere' meaning a fuller (Old English)
8.   Young - descriptive (English)
9.   Scott - (1) a Scotsman (English) or (2) descriptive, from 'scutt' (English)
10. Mitchell - patronymic - 'son of Michael' (English/Hebrew)
11. Campbell - descriptive, from 'cam beul' meaning 'crooked mouth' (Gaelic)
12. Stewart - occupational, from 'stig-weard' meaning 'sty-warden (Old English)
13. Bell - (1) descriptive, from 'bel' meaning 'beautiful' (French) or (2) territorial, meaning 'one who lives near a bell (English) or (3) matronymic, meaning 'son of Isabella' (English)
14. Bailey - occupational, meaning 'bailiff' (French)
15. Cooper - occupational (English)
16. Watson - patronymic - 'son of Walter' (English/Norman/Germanic)
17. Ross - (1) territorial, from Ross in northern Scotland or (2) descriptive, meaning red-haired (Old English)
18. Henderson - patronymic - 'son of Henry' (English/Norman/Germanic)
19. Patterson - patronymic - 'son of Patrick' (English/Latin)
20. Alexander - patronymic (Greek)
21. Hamilton - territorial, from Hambleton or Hambledon in England
22. Graham - territorial, from 'graeg-ham' meaning 'grey home' (Old English/Norman)
23. Wallace - descriptive, meaning 'Welsh' or 'foreign' (Celtic)
24. McDonald - patronymic - 'son of Donald' (Gaelic)
25. Marshall - occupational, meaning 'horse servant' (French)
26. Murray - territorial, from the province of Moray
27. Crawford - territorial, from the barony in Lanarkshire
28. Boyd - possibly territorial, from the Isle of Bute (Gaelic)
29. Kennedy - origin obscure (Irish)
30. Burns - territorial, from 'bourne' meaning 'stream' (English)
31. Gordon - probably territorial, from Gordon in Berwickshire
32. Shaw - (1) territorial, possibly from a place name meaning 'thicket' (English) or (2) an anglicisation of Sithig (Gaelic)
33. Robertson - patronymic, meaning 'son of Robert' (English/Norman/Germanic)
34. Ferguson - patronymic, meaning 'son of Fergus' (English/Gaelic)
35. Rose - see Ross
36. Duncan - descriptive, meaning 'brown warrior' (Gaelic)
37. Cunningham - territorial, from Cunningham in Ayrshire (English)
38. Armstrong - descriptive (English)
39. Elliott - occupational?, from Aelfwald (Old English)
40. Austin - (1) patronymic, from Augustine (Latin) or (2) used for Uisdean (Gaelic)
41. Carr/Kerr - territorial, meaning 'copse' (Old Norse)
42. Montgomery - territorial, from Sainte Foy de Montgomery, Lisieux, France (French)
43. Johnston(e) - patronymic - 'son of John' (English/Hebrew)
44. Morrison - patronymic - 'son of Maurice' (which means 'Moorish') (English/Latin)
45. Reid - descriptive, meaning 'red' (English)
46. Frazier/Fraser - occupational, from 'fraise' meaning 'strawberry' (French)
47. Douglas - descriptive, meaning 'dark stranger' (Gaelic)
48. Fleming - territorial, meaning a person from Flanders (English)
49. Davidson - patronymic, meaning 'son of David' (English/Hebrew)
50. McKinney/McKenna - patronymic, meaning 'son of Cionaodh' (Gaelic)
51. Craig - territorial, from 'crag' meaning 'rock' (English)
52. Fletcher - occupational (English)
53. McDaniel - patronymic, meaning 'son of Daniel' (Gaelic/Hebrew)
54. Ramsey - territorial, from Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, England. Usually spelled Ramsay in Scotland
55. Cummings/Cumming - territorial, from Comines near Lille in France
56. Stevenson/Stephenson - patronymic, meaning 'son of Stephen' (English/Norman/Greek)
57. Maxwell - territorial, from 'Maccus' weal', a pool in the River Tweed (Old English)
58. Lindsey/Lindsay - territorial, either from de Limesay near Rouen, France or from Lindsey in Lincolnshire, England
59. McBride - matronymic, meaning 'son of Bridget' (Gaelic/Irish)
60. McLaughlin/MacLachlan - patronymic, meaning 'son of Lachlan' (Gaelic)
61. Buchanan - territorial, from the district in Stirlingshire
62. Logan - territorial, from Logan in Ayrshire. might be related to 'lag' meaning 'hollow' (Gaelic)
63. McKenzie - patronymic, meaning 'son of Kenneth' (which means 'handsome' or 'born of fire') (Gaelic)
64. Burnett - patronymic, from Bernard (Old English/Germanic)
65. Nicholson - patronymic, meaning 'son of Nicholas' (English/Greek) 66. Monroe/Munro - territorial, meaning 'from the foot of the Rover Roe (in Derry, Ireland)' (Gaelic)
67. Calhoun/Colquholn usually Colquhoun in Scotland - territorial, from the lands in Dunbartonshire
68. Bruce - territorial, from Brix in Normandy
69. Gilmore - occupational, meaning 'servant of Mary (Gaelic)
70. McClaine/McLaine - in Scotland usually MacLean - patronymic meaning 'son of the servant of John' (Gaelic)
71. Keith - territorial, from the lands in East Lothian
72. McDowell - patronymic meaning 'son of Dougal' (Gaelic)
73. McLean See No 70 above
74. McCall - patronymic, meaning 'son of Cathal' (Gaelic)
75. McKee - variant of Mackay - patronymic meaning 'son of Aodh' (Gaelic)
76. Livingston(e) - territorial, from the lands in West Lothian
77. McIntosh - patronymic, meaning 'son of the chief' (Gaelic)
78. McCulloch/McCullough - patronymic, possibly meaning 'son of the boar' (Gaelic)
79. McKnight - variant of MacNaught - patronymic, meaning 'son of Nechtan' (Gaelic)
80. McMillan - patronymic meaning 'son of the bald or tonsured one' (Gaelic)
81. McIntyre - patronymic meaning 'son of the carpenter' (Gaelic)
82. Gillespie - ocuupational meaning 'servant of the bishop' (Gaelic)
83. McNeil/McNeal/McNeill -patronymic meaning 'son of Neil' (Gaelic)
84. McFarland/McFarlane -patronymic meaning 'son of Bartholomew' (which means 'son of the twin') (Gaelic/Hebrew)
85. Dunlap/Dunlop - territorial, from Dunlop in Ayrshire
86. McKay - see No 75 above
87. McCarty - not listed in Black - probably a patronymic meaning 'son of Arthur' (Irish?)
88. McPherson - patronymic, meaning 'son of the parson' (Gaelic/English)
89. Stuart - see No 12 above
90. McCray - Usually MacRae in Scotland - a patronymic meaning 'son of grace' or 'son of prosperity' (Gaelic)
91. McFadden - Usually MacFadyen in Scotland - patronymic, meaning 'son of little Pat(rick) (Gaelic/Latin)
92. McLeod/McCloud - patronymic meaning 'son of Leod' (which means 'ugly') (Gaelic/Norse)
93. Forbes - territorial, from the lands in Aberdeenshire
94. Guthrie - territorial, from the barony in Angus
95. Rankin - patronymic meaning 'little Randolph' (English/Germanic)
96. Hanna/Hannah - possibly a patronymic meaning 'son of Senach' (Celtic)
97. Lockhart - patronymic, from the personal name Locard (Old French/Germanic)
98. Sinclair - territorial, from St Clare in Normandy
99. Kirkpatrick - territorial, meaning 'church of St Patrick' (English/Latin)
100. Dunbar - territorial, from the place name
101. McElroy - patronymic, meaning 'son of the red-haired lad' (Gaelic)
102. Leslie/Lesley - territorial, from the lands of Leslie, which are said to have been named after Laszlo, the servant of Queen Margaret (Hungarian).  The spelling Lesley is almost unknown in Scotland except as a girl's given name.
103. Sterling/Stirling - territorial, from the town
104. McLellan/McClelland - patronymic, meaning 'son of the servant of (St) Fillan' (meaning 'wolf') Gaelic/Irish
105. Burrell/Birral - usually spelled Birrel(l) in Scotland - territorial, from Burrill in Yorkshire, England
106. Ritchie - patronymic, meaning 'little Richard' (which means 'rule hard') (Germanic)
107. McQueen - patronymic, meaning 'son of Sweyn' (which means 'pig') (Gaelic/Norse)
108. McKinley - patronymic, meaning 'son of Finlay' (which means 'fair hero') (Gaelic)
109. McLendon - not listed in Black - possibly a variant of MacLennan, meaning 'son of the servant of Finnan' (Gaelic)
110. McCain - Usually McCann in Scotland - patronymic meaning 'son of Annadh' (Gaelic)
111. McCord - patronymic, meaning 'son of Cuart' (Gaelic)
112. Carmichael - territorial, from the barony in Lanarkshire
113. McCauley/MacAulay - patronymic, meaning 'son of Amalgaidh' (Gaelic/Irish)
114. Pollock/Polk - territorial, from the lands in Renfrewshire
115. Irvin/Irvine/Irving - territorial, from places in Dumfries-shire and Ayrshire
116. McGraw - not listed in Black - probably an Irish variant of No 90
117. McCollum - usually MacCallum in Scotland - patronymic meaning 'son of the servant of Columba' (Gaelic/Latin)
118. Kilgore/Kilgour - territorial, from the place in Fife
119. Trotter - occupational, meaning a messenger (Old French)
120. Akins/Aiken/Eakins - usually Aitken in Scotland - patronymic, meaning 'little Adam' (English/Hebrew)
121. McRae - see no 90 above
122. McKenna - patronymic meaning 'son of Cionaodh' (Gaelic)
123. Drummond - territorial, from the barony in Perthshire, or Drymen in Stirlingshire
124. McNair - patronymic meaning (1) 'son of brown John' or (2) 'son of the heir' or (3) 'son of the smith' or (4) 'son of the stranger' (Gaelic)
125. Laird - occupational, meaning landowner (English)
126. Abernathy - usually Abernethy in Scotland - territorial, from the place in Perthshire
127. Napier - occupational, meaning the person who looked after the linen (French)
128. Weir - territorial, from various places named Vere in France
129. Christie - occupational, meaning a Christian
130. McCracken - patronymic, possibly related to No 79
131. Crenshaw - not listed in Black
132. Witherspoon/Wotherspoon - possibly territorial, meaning 'sheep pasture' (Old English)
133. Kincaid/Kincade - territorial, from the lands in Stirlingshire
134. MacBain/McBean - patronymic, meaning 'son of Bean' (which means life) (Gaelic)
135. Sherer/Shearer - occupational (English)
136. McKinnon - patronymic, meaning 'son of Finguaine' (which means 'fair born') (Gaelic/Irish)
137. Duff - descriptive, meaning 'dark' (Gaelic)
138. Nesbitt/Nisbet - territorial, from the barony in Berwickshire
139. McHugh - patronymic, meaning 'son of Hugh' (which means 'mind') (Gaelic/Germanic)
140. Bowie - descriptive, possibly meaning 'yellow' (Gaelic)
141. McGregor - patronymic, meaning 'son of Gregor' (Gaelic/Latin)
142. Snodgrass - territorial, from lands in Ayrshire
143. Kilpatrick - territorial, meaning 'chapel of St Patrick' (English/Latin) (see No 99)
144. Moffett - Usually Moffat in Scotland - territorial, from the town
145. McCrary - not listed in Black - perhaps a variant of No 121
146. McWhorter - Usually MacWhirter in Scotland - patronymic, meaning 'son of the harper' (Gaelic)
147. McDuffie - patronymic, meaning 'son of the black man of peace' (Gaelic)
148. McCurdy - Usually McKirdy in Scotland - patronymic, meaning 'son of the sea -ruler' (Gaelic/Norse
149. McAdams - patronymic, meaning 'son of Adam' (Gaelic/Hebrew)
150. Chisholm - territorial, from the barony in Roxburghshire
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Clan and Family Name Organizations
Those surnames which have a clan or family name association with a web site are listed below in alphabetical order by surname.  Also, those with multiple clan or family name associations are listed with additional web site locations.  For completeness, all names with a family name organization are listed below - even those listed and linked above. 

Because of the migrations of the Scots and the Irish, some Irish surname organizations appear here and are marked with a "i".  For simplicity, all "Mc" names are shown with "Mac."  If we have missed a clan or family name organization, please send the link to our Web Master.


Didn't find your surname in any of the lists above?  Try:
  • Scottish District Families Association
    A study of Scotland shows that approximately seventy percent of all the families of Scotland and their descendants were not affiliated with, or members of, the ancient Scottish Clans.


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