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Surname McClary - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'M'

Tracing the McClary Lineage: An iGENEA DNA Test Unveils an Intricate Tapestry of Irish Heritage

Ever curious about my ancestry and the origins of my surname - McClary, I took an iGENEA DNA test. The results pinpointed a primarily Irish heritage, aligning most closely with the R1b haplogroup commonly found in Western Europe. Interestingly, evidence suggests this lineage survived the flux of Celtic, Norman, and English invasions of Northern Ireland. There's also an implication of my surname being derived from the Irish surname Mac Cléirigh, meaning 'son of the clergyman'.

N. McClary

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McClary: What does the surname McClary mean?

The last name McClary is of Scotland origin, traditionally belonging to the Scottish clan MacCleary. The surname is derived from the Gaelic name "Mac Cléirich", with "Mac" meaning "son" and "Cléirich" meaning "Clerk" or "Clergyman". Thus, it is typically interpreted to mean "son of the clerk" or "son of the clergyman". Names that originated as titles or occupational names like this often suggest that an ancestor of the family held that position or role. Therefore, the surname McClary might imply that one of the early bearers of this name was a religious scribe or secretary. Variations of the spelling of McClary include McCleary, McClary, McLerie, and MacCleary among others. Just as with many other Scottish surnames, bearers of the last name McClary can be found dispersed in countries around the world, especially in places where the Scots have historically migrated such as America, Canada and Australia.

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McClary: Where does the name McClary come from?

The last name McClary is of Scottish origin. It is considered to be an anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "Mac Cleirich". The name is composed of elements - "Mac" meaning son of, and "Cleirich" translating to clerk or cleric. Thus, the overall translation of this name would be "son of the cleric". Variations of this name include McLeary, McCleary, McClary, McLerie, etc.

The name is first recorded in mid-12th century Scotland (under the reign of King David I), with a certain mason called "Leot the clerk", commonly believed to be the ancestor of Clan MacLerie.

Today, McClary is a rather unusual surname. In the United States, it is most commonly found in states with high populations of Scots-Irish descendants, such as South Carolina and surrounding states in the South. It also has a strong presence in Northern Ireland. The name can be found in these areas along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Scotland due to the migration and settlement of Scots throughout history. However, the name is not particularly common in any specific location.

Variations of the surname McClary

The surname McClary comes from Scottish origins and is a variant of the Gaelic Mac Cléirich translated as "son of the clerk." Owing to the varience in phonetics and linguistics in history, words were often written differently leading to different spellings and variations for surnames. It's suggested that prior to the 20th century, almost every surname had numerous spelling variations.

The variants and spellings for McClary can include MacClary, McClarry, MacLary, MacLeary, McCleary, McClery, MacClery, among others. Some other spelling variations might take the form MacClaire or MacClair, McLeary, McLeery, or McClear.

Some variations occurred because of the immigration of people to foreign countries where their names were altered to adapt to new languages or pronunciation. For example, in Ireland, the surname McClary is often replaced with Mac Giolla Chléirich, which holds the same meaning.

As most of these variations hold the 'Mac/Mc' prefix, which indicates 'son of,' it can be assumed that these variations are inherently connected and of the same origin. Furthermore, these variations can be found as surnames throughout the world, particularly in areas with strong historical connections to Scotland or Ireland.

Famous people with the name McClary

  • Louisa McClary: writer and International Emmy award-winning film director
  • Harry McClary: Major League baseball player
  • Bob McClary: American comedian and actor
  • Edward McClary: United States Army colonel and Medal of Honor recipient
  • Hendrix McClary: American rapper and record producer
  • Gene McClary: American football player
  • Emerson McClary: former basketball player
  • Michael McClary: Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Frank McClary: American businessman and politician
  • Donna McClary: former professional tennis player

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