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The MacRaes | Spellings and Septs | The MacKenzies

Clan History: Spellings and Septs

The name "MacRae" is a personal one like Macbeth, not a patronymic like MacDonald. It originated quite independently in various places in Ireland and Scotland from an early date and was given to individuals who were in no way connected with each other. In Gaelic and Old Irish, Mac-Rath literally means "son of prosperity" or "divine grace" and the name appears in Scotland as early as the reign of Malcolm IV (1141-1165), when a certain MacRaith de Ospitali witnessed the gift of a church to the canons of Holyrood. Gaelic pronunciation.

The name first appears as a surname in the North of Scotland in an agreement made at Inverness in 1386 between the Bishop of Mory and the Wolf of Badenoch. This document refers to land in Rothiemurchus, Inverness-shire which was at one time occupied by a certain Cristinus MacRath. From that date, the name is frequently met with as a surname in various parts of Scotland, particularly in the Shires of Ross, Pert, Ayr, and Dumfries.

—From "The Clan MacRae," Donald MacRae, Johnston and Bacon Ltd., 1984

Accepted Septs and Spellings

Crae
Crea
Cree

MacAra
MacArra

MacCra
MacCrach MacCrae
MacCraith
MacCraw
MacCray

MacCrea
MacCreath
MacCree

MacCrie

MacCrow
MacCroy

MacGrath
MacGraw

MachRay

MacRa
MacRach
MacRae
MacRaith
MacRath
MacRaw
MacRay

MacRie

McRae

Rae
Raith
Ray

Rea
Reath

Wray

The source for these accepted spellings is Scots Kith and Kin, HarperCollins Publishers, Revised edition, 1989

Famous MacRaes

Famous MacRaes include:

  • Duncan Macrae was born around 1640, was educated at Edinburgh University, and composed Gaelic poetry.
  • Lt. Colonel John Macrae was born in 1861, served in the Black Watch, and was both deputy keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and a member of the Royal Company of Archers.
  • Colonel Sir Colin Macrae of Feoirlinn was knighted n 1935, served with distinction throughout the Boer War, and was not only a member of the Royal Company of Archers, but also a lieutenant in the bodyguard of the English monarch, the Yeomen of the Guard.
  • George G. McCrae (1833-1927) was born in Scotland and emigrated to Australia in 1841. He published two volumes of verse based on Aboriginal legends.
  • John MacCrae (1872-1918) was a Canadian physician and poet, and is best known for his poem "In Flanders Fields."
  • Duncan Macrae (1905-1967) was born in Glasgow and taught for some time before becoming an actor. His most famous films include Whisky Galore, Tunes of Glory, and Walt Disney's Greyfriars' Bobby.
  • Gordon MacRae (1922-1986) was a popular star of musicals and is probably best remembered as Curly in the film Oklahoma.
  • Sir William McCrea (1906-2000) was an astrophysicist who made a vital contribution to the understanding of the sun's composition, confirming the theory that hydrogen was by far the most common element in the outer layers of the sun's atmosphere. His findings let to the big-bang theory of the origin of the universe.
  • Farquhar MacRae (?-2000) was a world reknowned Scottish fiddler.
  • Brian MacRae (?-2000) served as Piper to the Queen for 15 years, playing under her window at precisely 9:00 each morning.

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