former Historian to Clan MacRae North America, I decided to take on this
project as we discussed to help the many people whom I met at Highland Games
who couldn't trace their roots in American records, partially due to the
overwhelming number of inconsistent spellings of the census records.
searches in the internet databases yielded MacEverybody.
couldn't locate all the records for the first name of the person you were
searching for, you might unknowingly trace someone else, and so your entire
research project would be incorrect.
solution: list all of the MacRaes alphabetically by first name instead of by
last name, in chronological order, in the state they resided, while noting
but not relying upon the spelling of the last name.
There are four footnotes, and I've provided a sample page to demonstrate the
order to make the files of maximum use, when given names have apparent
misspellings I have put a suggested spelling in brackets (so searchable by
first name in PDF version, on CD rom).
Amazon explanation of my book confuses people and I've been unable to get
them to correct it so far: the book is a finding aid, not a biographical
index, as one reviewer apparently had expected. I live in hope that someone
who understands the concept and its application will write a positive and
short review. So, if this point could be made clear on your site, then the
information will be more likely to reach people. I'm selling these below my
cost, and it took me 3 years to conduct the research, and I have additional
data but stopped at the point I was risking carpal tunnel. A second version
would probably make more sense as an online database and save me the
project was undertaken at the sole initiative of, and the sole expense of,
the author/compiler/publisher, Cornelia W. Bush, and is not in any way
affiliated with, funded by, or connected to any society.
TO AMERICA!!, Page 2 of
to my mother, Ann Patricia McReynolds, and to her mother, Dorothy Claire
TO AMERICA!!, Page 3 of
general, the MacRaes/MacRays are the Scots and the MacGraths/MacRaths are
the Irish, but since we are all originally one Clan or family, I have listed
all spelling variants for both groups. Please note that Clan MacRae has no
septs, only spelling variants of the one Gaelic name.
researcher works alone but always must stand on the shoulders of those who
came before. This book would not have been possible without the kindness and
generosity of the many good people both in Scotland and America who have
shared their stories and insights with me.
let me acknowledge the census-takers, researchers and compilers who each, in
his/her own way, made this work possible.
let me acknowledge the superlative Genealogist, Mr. Alistair Macleod of the
Inverness Public Library. Words cannot express my gratitude to you, not only
for your dedication to your work, but your kindness to me in the days after
9/11 while I was still in shock. The many good people of Scotland who were
kind to me in those weeks will remain in my heart forever. God bless you
wish to acknowledge my cousins, the MacRaes of Conchra, whom I first met in
1970. We are all grateful that Eilean Donan Castle has such fine Stewards,
and this former Mackenzie castle gives us a focal point for our own
heritage. I wish to particularly thank Miranda MacRae, Baroness van Lynden,
for her friendship. And last but never least, my friends who encouraged me,
inspired me and kept me going on this long road: William Franklin Wyatt,
III, Regional Vice President of Clan MacLeod who gently prodded me along,
John McCrea, former Genealogist of Clan MacRae, who encouraged me to become
active in the Clan MacRae Society of North America, where I served as its
first Historian, and to my late father, David Hoard Bush, who always
encouraged me to be persistent, patient and not to give up no matter how
difficult a task might be. Dad, this task is finally completed -- may it
prove to be of worth.
OF THIS BOOK:
project began as a personal search for my ancestors in the MacRae branch of
my family. It led me to the discovery that I was a Mackenzie of Ballone,
which further led to the discovery that I was also a MacLeod, a MacDonald
and to then be able to trace my Scottish roots very far back. What a
wonderful discovery! So, I have studied the history of several Clans and
their inter-connectedness before producing this book.
had been unable to do with American records, I was able to do with Scottish
records. And therein lay the secret, working in American records is
incredibly frustrating, because in Scotland the surname is much more likely
to be spelled uniformly in the records. So, if I can help my fellow MacRaes
get through the jungle of the American records, then we can all get back
across the sea to our roots. And so, this project was born.
MACRAES TO AMERICA!!, Page 5 of
have used several sources to compile the records in this book, chiefly, the
Census, which has been published every ten years since 1790, and which has
been compiled and indexed by numerous parties over the years. The most
recent records available to the public are from 1930. Not all years are
fully represented, and the best coverage occurs from 1790 to 1850, although
some later records are included as noted.
References in this book apply to either Microfilm rolls in the National
Archives or to a published Index of that year.
census records provide a great many clues about our families, if we can find
them. In the case of MacRaes or MacAnybody you cannot use the Soundex System
to reduce the number of records you must go through to find your MacSomebody.
The Soundex simply looks at the first few letters and gives you too many
people in your search if you come from a Celtic background. You wind up with
MacEverybody. So, I decided to compile and correct the census records
available for our Clan, taking special note of common Scottish first names
which had been misspelled and for whom an online search would have therefore
not been fruitful.
census enumerators were familiar with Scottish or Irish spellings, and even
our ancestors themselves may not have been consistent. This means that the
same person may have had many different surnames in the records. When a
surname is spelled consistently here, it may be indicative of the way it was
spelled overseas prior to arrival in America and may give indications as to
where to look geographically to go further back.
the spelling variants listed in the front of this book have been compiled,
and the records have been organized by State and listed alphabetically by
first name regardless of how the last name was recorded. I have also
suggested alternative spellings for forenames in brackets.
record appears to be a duplication, it has been removed, which means that if
you are told to look on a certain page of the Census of 1840, you must look
at ALL of the persons on that page who are spelled similarly so as not to
miss your MacSomebody.
about women in the records: the tradition in America used to be that a woman
was listed by her husband’s first name if she were widowed, and her own
first name if she were divorced. So, a Mrs. A. MacRae might have been the
widow of A. MacRae or she may have been divorced and have had the first
initial A. As to ethnicity, not all persons in this book appear to be
members of our clan, as some have clearly Germanic associations in names as
well as in places of birth, and
MACRAES TO AMERICA!!, Page 6 of
particularly noticeable with the surname RATH. Perhaps there is a
connection, yet to be discovered, so they have been included.
find a record in this book you wish to examine, you have several options.
You can go to the national or regional location of the National Archives to
view the actual record and obtain a copy, or to the DAR Library in
Washington, DC where the
microfilms are held in the Seimes Collection. The records have been indexed
format geographically. Many good regional libraries have genealogical
collections which contain the microfilm or the indices, or can order them
The website <www.ancestry.com> now makes it easy to view these documents
online and order digitally enhanced copies of the originals (fee for access
and for copies). A professional Genealogist can obtain these records for you
if you prefer; see the websites of The Board for Certification of
Genealogists at www.bcgcertification.org or The Association of Professional
Genealogists at www.apgen.org. I do not endorse any particular approach and
have used all of the above.
GROWTH IN NUMBERS
MacRaes and MacGraths arrived in America in record numbers, and by the first
Census of the United States in 1790, they accounted for approximately 400
persons. Of these, the largest number were called RAY (228 persons) and the
next largest number were called MCRAE (51 persons), plus the other spelling
variants. By 1930, the most recently available data, American members of our
Clan totaled almost 120,000 persons. Of these, the RAYs accounted for 61,919
persons and the MCGRATHs accounted for 12,295 persons, followed by GRATHs at
8,003 persons, RAEs at 7,277 persons, WRAYs at 6,860 persons, REAs at 5,837
persons, RATHs 5744 persons, MCRAEs at 5,082 persons and so on. This growth
in numbers cannot be accounted for in any other way but massive immigration.
THERE, ARRIVING HERE...
MacRaes came to America during the sad and ignominious period known as the
Clearances, which took place in the 1800’s, when large groups of people were
forced off the lands held by their clans for centuries. The Scottish
Diaspora is one of the most severe examples of ethnic cleansing in the
history of humanity. Since it was largely done with the involvement of
Scottish landowners and the occasional Chief or two, it is not generally
seen in this light, but it is so. It is also true that many Scots left of
their own free will, following a sense of adventure and seeking financial
opportunities that Scotland might not have been then able to provide.
MacRaes have been dispersed all over the world, with a great many finding
their homes in America.
MACRAES TO AMERICA!!, Page 7 of
in America continue to demonstrate the gift of the bard, and not a few have
found in the fields of publishing, the theatre, film and other
communications arts, along with a few outspoken lawyers and accountants. We
also have continued to demonstrate our skills in warfare, and can count on
our brave military men and women who
bring honor to the name of MacRae.
volume of this work is anticipated.
MACRAES TO AMERICA!!, Page 8 of
HISTORY OF THE MACRAES
MacRae, frequently translated as Son of Grace, more properly refers to a
person in an ecclesiastical/religious profession. MacRae, MacCrae, McCrea,
MacRay, Mccree — regardless of the spelling in English, it is all the same
word in Gaelic.
Ours is an ancient line, which can be traced back to Ireland. The
fourteen main tribes which make up the E´rainn of Ireland trace their
descent from an ancestor-deity named O´engus Bolg, described as God of
Lightning and Maker of
Dal gCais were the great clan of Thomond, or North Munster, an area more
especially associated with County Clare (excluding the Burren and Corcomroe
northwest corner) and adjacent parts of Tipperary and Limerick. They were
the axe-wielding soldiers who formed the core of the army that defeated the
Vikings in 1014, one of the most significant dates in Gaelic history. The
chief families of this tribe
were above all the O’Briens, but also the MacConsidines, MacDonnells,
MacLysaghts, MacMahons, O’Ahernes, O’Kennedys, O’Shanahans, O’Duracks,
MacGraths, O’Fogartys, O’Galvins, O’Gradys, O’Hanrahans, O’Hickeys, O’Mearas,
O’Molonys, O’Moroneys, O’Hartagans, O’Londergans, Creaghs, O’Quins,
MacNamaras, MacInerneys, O’Deas and O’Griffeys. The O’Briens (O Briain) were
the chief family of the Dal gCais, otherwise known as the Dalcassians, and
the heads of the family were the kings of Thomond. The O’Briens derive their
descent from Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, who was slain at Clontarf in
1014, at the moment of his final decisive victory over the united Viking
army... it was Brian who raised his clan, the Ui Toirdealbhaigh, to
preeminence among the Dalcassians... there is evidence that the Ui
Toirdealbhaigh were originally from Connaught... The MacGraths (Mag Raith)
or MacCrays (Mac Raith) were hereditary poets and chroniclers to their
O’Brien kinsmen, and spread
with them into Tipperary and Waterford. They ran a bardic school at Cahir and
the ruins of their castle in Waterford are still to be seen.” 
one MacRath came from Ireland to Clunes, Scotland (west of Inverness) during
the 13th century or even earlier. It is probable that the MacRaths/MacRaes
came to Scotland as Irish Christian missionaries, because of both the
meaning of the name and the many MacRaes in high and low church offices
throughout the centuries.
MacRath continued to exist in Ireland. They lived in counties Tipperary,
Fermanagh, and Waterford, where many of them served as Bishops and Poets,
and where later a John MacGrath was granted a baronetcy. A Captain Redmond
The E´rainn, Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland, An Ethnography of
the Gael, AD 500-1750 by C.
Thomas Cairney, (McFarland & Co, Inc., Jefferson, NC and London), pp 62-67.
MACRAES TO AMERICA!!, Page
9 of 632
MacGrath appears in King James' Irish Army List of the late 17th century. We
continue to be known for the same character traits and occupations today:
fiercely loyal, devoutly religious, poetic (and pretty good with a weapon,
too!). While it has been said that the MacRaes had no chief but MacKenzie,
registration of the MacReath Coat of Arms 2appears
to indicate that the MacRaes were an
armigerous family and likely had their own Chief from an early date, either
at Clunes, Scotland or earlier still in Ireland.
BRAZEN WALL, FRASER’S FRIEND, MACKENZIES’ SHIRT OF MAIL
MacRaes of Clunes were on the estate of Lovat during the reign of King
William the Lion, or before 1214 AD. At the time they were known as the
Brazen Wall of Bisset.
MacRaes of Clunes remained in eastern Scotland and several settled at Beauly
Priory and the area known as the Black Isle where they formed an educated
class of clergy, whose descendants became Provosts, Writers (attorneys) and
public servants in the county of Ross at Chanonry/Fortrose and at Dingwall.
They lived on or near the estate of Lovat.
Lovat's daughter and heir was fostered in the home of MacRae of Clunes and
when she married a Fraser, thus forming the line Fraser of Lovat, the
MacRaes continued to be supporters of the family and retained close bonds of
friendship. This appears to be the senior branch of the family, as the Lord
Lyon noted in his decision of 1909 that the first MacReath Coat of Arms was
registered in the east not the west, as it bore devices customary in the
area of Clunes and was not of the style of West
Highland Clans 3.
I am told
that the saying goes both ways, “while there is a Fraser within, there will
not be a MacRae without” and “while there is a MacRae within, there will not
be a Fraser without”, meaning both a warm welcome into each other’s homes
and a promise to aid each other in dire times.
MacKenzie allied itself with Clan Fraser through the marriage of Kenneth 7th
of Kintail with Agnes, daughter of Hugh Fraser of Lovat, having repudiated
his first wife, a MacDonald, and this began the feuds between the MacKenzies
and the MacDonalds.
2 Source: Porteous
Manuscript, Records of the Court of Lord Lyon.
TO AMERICA!!, Page 10
with Kenneth MacKenzie 11th of Kintail, the Clan MacKenzie shifted its focus
from east to west, intentionally displacing other clans, but the MacKenzies
continued to be buried at Beauly and Chanonry (Fortrose) in the east and a
number of the MacRaes of Clunes remained in the east as documented by their
shift caused many MacKenzies and MacRaes to settle in Kintail, and in the
17th century the Clan MacKenzie split into two main lines, known by the
names of the Earls of Seaforth & Lords of Kintail in the west and the Earls
of Cromartie in the east, plus several cadet branches throughout the
Counties of Ross and Cromarty. In many of these MacKenzie lines you will
find MacRae wives. The main two western branches of the Clan MacRae are
collectively known as the MacRaes of Kintail, being the MacRaes of
Inverinate and the MacRaes of Conchra, descended from two sons of the
Constable of Eilean Donan Castle. The records do not appear to clarify which
is senior and it has in the past been the subject of debate within the clan.
MacRaes resided mainly in the present-day counties of Ross and Cromarty.
Their close ties with Clan MacKenzie in the west and Clan Fraser in the east
meant for good relations wherever they went. In time, the affiliation with
Clan MacKenzie grew stronger, and with the rising fortunes of the MacKenzies
so, too, with the MacRaes.
Fraser heiress married Alexander MacKenzie, son of Lord Prestonhall, who
changed his name to Fraser and from whom the line continued as the Frasers
connections between Clan MacKenzie and Clan Fraser remained close, based on
blood ties and mutual trust and aided by the constant allegiance of the Clan
MacRae participated in the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715. William MacKenzie,
5th Earl of Seaforth bravely led the MacKenzies and the MacRaes in support
of King James VIII, and great loss of life and property ensued. Seaforth
survived the battles and the destruction of Eilean Donan Castle, and died on
the Island of Lewis in 1740. The men who died during this rising are
memorialized at Sheriffmuir on a cairn, which reads: The Clan MacRae -- In
memory of the MacRaes killed at Sheriffmuir, 13th Nov. 1715, when defending
the Royal House of Stuart. The Kintail and
first cousin and stepsister to Simon Fraser, who claimed the title of Lord
marrying her widowed mother and who was later executed, see Culloden.
TO AMERICA!!, Page 11
companies formed part of the left wing of the highland army and fell almost
to a man. -- Erected at the Instance of the Clan MacRae Society, 13th Nov.
the Jacobite rising in 1745-46, Kenneth MacKenzie, 6th Earl of Seaforth and
later known as Lord Fortrose, supported the government and did not bring his
clan out for Bonnie Prince Charlie. He had seen the many sufferings of his
father and his clan from the prior Jacobite rising and chose to preserve the
status quo. He did not lead the MacKenzies or the MacRaes into battle.
MacKenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie together with Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat made
a joint recruiting effort in the east around Glenurquhart on the Black Isle,
and took part in the Battle of Falkirk on 17 January 1746. Many MacKenzies
fought in his regiment but very few MacRaes, perhaps because their
population was greater in Seaforth's domain.
Earl and his son Lord MacLeod were taken prisoner the day before Culloden.
They were later pardoned, but Lord Lovat was also taken prisoner and was
executed with great barbarity at the advanced age of 80 via the method known
as hung, drawn, and quartered. He was the last nobleman executed in Britain,
and a marker stands at his place of execution at the Tower of London.
majority of the men taken at Culloden were either executed or transported.
As a result of Seaforth's non-participation and Cromartie's recruiting being
in the east and not the west, very few MacRaes fought in this decisive
Donan Castle was built about 1230 as a fortified structure by King Alexander
II. The name means the Island of [Saint] Donan, an early Christian
missionary who may have settled here as early as the sixth century. His
well, which was presumably the reason for settlement at this location, still
runs with fresh water while the island itself is surrounded by three lochs
(lakes) where the water is salty — a miracle to this day.
castle has had many different occupants but is best known for its
associations with Clan MacKenzie and Clan MacRae. Many battles have been
fought for it, against it, and around it. This led to the naming of the Clan
MacRae as MacKenzies’ “shirt of mail” because of both fierce loyalty and
TO AMERICA!!, Page 12
Generations of MacRaes served as Constables of the Castle under the
MacKenzies. In 1719 during one of the Jacobite risings, the castle was
attacked and was largely destroyed. For 200 years it stood ruined and alone
along the shores of Loch Duich.
Rebuilding of the Castle
Donan was rebuilt in the early 20th century at a cost of £250,000 by Lt.
Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap of the MacRaes of Conchra. He purchased the
site in 1912, and its reconstruction lasted twenty years. A world-wide
appeal brought in funds from MacRaes everywhere. Plans for the restoration
followed the dreams of Farquhar MacRae, who oversaw the project. The bridge
joining the island to the mainland was a later addition, and is apparently
the only alteration in design to the original plan of the castle.
Castle has since become a visual symbol of Scottish heritage as the most
photographed castle in Scotland. Today, Eilean Donan Castle is owned by the
Conchra Charitable Trust and is open to visitors, along with a modern
restaurant and gift shop.
information, visit the Eilean Donan Castle web site <www.eileandonancastle.com>,
Map location: Dornie.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.