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Surname History

As you might have noticed, essentially any name that when spoken sounds like mah-kem-e or mah-kam-e is more than likely connected to the original.

But what was or is the original?

Your guess is as good as mine!

It is generally accepted that the McKemie name stems from a Scottish background. However, there are two distinct Scottish Clans that recognize a form of McKemie as a sept. (A sept, generally speaking, is an allied family or alternate surnames for the main family.)



The first is the Fraser Clan. George F. Black describes the McKemie connection in The Surnames of Scotland, page 529:

Mackimmie, Mackimmey, Macimmie. G. MacShimidh, 'son of Simon' (Simmie), of old Mack Himy. Lord of Lovat, chief of the Frasers, was so styled patronymically by the Gaels. Fraser narrating the birth of Simon Fraser (1570) says of the name Simon: "A name pretty rare in Scotland, south or north, although kindly to this family, being the first name it had, and hence the Lord Lovat is called M'Khimy". The patronymic is probably derived from the Simon Fraser killed at Halidon Hill in 1333..."

The Frasers populated the counties of Sterling, Angus, Inverness and Aberdeen. As is apparent from Old Parish Records (OPR), there were McKemies in these counties in the 17th century. Additionally, many believe that Robert Makemie, the father of Francis Makemie (“Father of American Presbyterianism”), was born in Inverness.



The second is the Stuart Clan--specifically, the Stuarts of Bute. Mr. Black describes this connection as well on page 464:

Maccamie, 'son of Jamie', a diminutive of James, q.v. Nigel Mccamie witnessed sasine of lands in Arran, 1538. In 1547 Robert Mckkamy of Maknaught or Manach in Bute sold his lands to Ninian Stewart. In 1557 John M'Came 'vel M'Caine' was returned heir of Nigel M'Came, his father , in the lands of Barnauld, Bute, and in 1560 we have recorded of sasine of lands in Bute to John Mccamie. "Jamieson and Mccamie are the same sir name and were both originally Fullartons...James went to the Isle of Bute and was called Mccamie or Jamieson an acquired lands there and was made Crowner of Bute, as appears by Designation in May 1538: 'Robertus Jamieson Coronator de Bute.' His successors remained in that Island till within these few years that they are now extinct...

As turns up when researching the Frasers, there are land and Old Parish Records placing McKemies in the counties of Bute, Ayr and Renfrew.



The McKemies came to Ireland during the Ulster Plantation, when the English “planted” Protestant settlers as early as 1607. Two McKemies are listed on a 1630 Muster Roll for the Barony of Rapho, County Donegall: "Robert mcCamy" and "Robert mcCamy younger". These two men are listed under the purview of James conningham Esqr, undertaker of 1,000 acres. (The counties were divided and each barony was divided into lots of 1000, 1500, and 2000 acres. Those who received the lots were termed undertakers, as they undertook to settle Protestants on their land.)

James Cunningham hailed from Ayrshire. Thus far I have not located much data for McKemies in Ayrshire, but I believe that I eventually will. In looking at land records for Ayrshire and the surrounding areas in the 17th century, there are deeds and sasines several that encourage the idea that the McKemies came from the southern part of Scotland: Buteshire, 1645 and 1662; Ayrshire, 1694.

Additionally, a heavy abundance of the Scottish Presbyterians that populated the Ulster Plantation came from lowland Scotland. It is my belief that Robert MaKemie was indeed Scottish, but probably not born in Scotland. Though he may have been born in Ireland, on the Ulster Plantation, he would have still strongly identified with his Scottish background. If Francis, Robert’s son, was born around 1658 in Rathmelton, County Donegal, as is generally accepted, then it could be his father, grandfather or even great-grandfather who are mentioned on the 1630 muster roll. Going even earlier, there are two McKemies present in 1609 on a Pardon List for Donegal (Donell McKemie and Eveny McKemy).



As was already mentioned above in the quotation from George F. Black on the McKemie connection to the Stuarts of Bute, the name is also connected to the names Fullarton and Jamieson. But how, exactly?

According to The Book of Scots-Irish Families by Robert Bell, the name MacCamie was often an offshoot of the name Fullarton. His writings are in agreement with what Black wrote, but have a few more details:

In Ireland these two Scottish names are almost exclusive to Ulster, and both are most numerous in Co. Antrim, with Fullarton also common in Co. Down. Fullarton is territorial in origin from the barony of the name in the parish in Dundonald, Ayrshire…The Fullartons were hereditary coroners (crowners and administrators) of the bailiedom of Arran. One of the family, James, settled on Bute and his descendants were known as MacCamies (son of Jaimie) or Jamiesons or Neilsons and became hereditary coroners of Bute.

Again, referring to the land records of 17th century Scotland, there is a group of interesting entries for M’Kamie. Dated in 1645, in Bute, there is a Mathew M’Kamie, alias Jamieson. Also listed is an Isobell Conyinghame M’Kamie, relect of James Stewart of Ambroismore, and spouse of John, alias Jamieson, son of Mathew M'K alias J. of Berneauld.



Several different lines of McKemies came to the American Colonies from Ireland during the last decade of the 17th century, including the nephews of Reverend Francis Makemie. Another line came over in 1835. Once here, the McKemies embraced the pioneer spirit and thrived in their new country, spreading south and west and now reside throughout the United States.



Coming soon!



Coming soon!



This is, like all genealogy, a work in progress and as such, subject to error and the need for updates. If you have any comments, corrections, or items that would embellish the work above, please contact me.