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Surname McElrae - Meaning and Origin

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McElrae: What does the surname McElrae mean?

The last name McElrae is a Scottish surname. It is derived from the Gaelic phrase MacGille Riabhach, which literally means “son of the grey-haired one.” The name is most commonly found in the North-East of Scotland, particularly in Aberdeenshire and East Lothian.

In Scotland, surnames usually referred to a person’s occupation, ancestral home, lineage, or physical appearance. In the case of McElrae, the term suggested that the original bearer had grey hair or was descended from someone known as the “grey-haired one.” The name then spread to the northern coast of Scotland as people moved around in search of work and better lives.

McElrae is a Scottish-Gaelic surname with a long and proud history. It ties its bearers to the northern coast of Scotland, a rugged and windswept place, that has been home to generations of hardy and determined Scots. Many of those bearing this name can still trace their ancestry back to the “grey-haired one”, a figure of myth and legend that has become deeply engrained in Scotland’s culture.

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McElrae: Where does the name McElrae come from?

The last name McElrae is an uncommon Anglo-Scottish name that is of uncertain origin, but believed to come from a location in Scotland called MacLellan's Hill near Ayr. It is believed that MacLellan's Hill may have derived its name from the Gaelic MacGilla-Naomh or MacGille-Naomh, meaning "son of the servant of the saint". Today, the last name McElrae can be found scattered throughout Scotland and northern England, as well as in various locations around the world, such as Canada, the United States, and New Zealand.

The McElrae name is especially common in Canada, where it was one of the earliest surnames associated with immigration from Scotland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with a small group of McElraes settling in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the early part of last century. Most members of the McElrae family in Canada are descendants of these early settlers, having spread across the country over the years.

The McElrae name has also been associated with communities in the greater Toronto area, notably in the town of Milton, Ontario, where there is a well-known street bearing the McElrae name. Similarly, the McElrae surname has been recorded in various parts of the United States, such as in Florida and Wisconsin, as well as in New Zealand.

The last name McElrae has survived centuries of history and continues to be an integral part of many communities around the world.

Variations of the surname McElrae

McElrae is a surname of Scottish origin, derived from the Gaelic Mac Gille Riabhaigh, which translates as "son of the servant or follower of St. Riabhaigh”.

Variants of the surname McElrae include MacElrae, McElray, MacElray, McCalrae, McAlrae, McAlray, MacAlray, MacClrae and MacClray.

These surnames can be found in various spellings depending on the region where they are used. Other variants of the name include McElrea, McElra, McIlrae, McIlray, McKelray, McKelrea, Mackelray, Mackelrea, McElrath and McIllrath.

In Scotland, the name appears in records as early as the mid-17th century. The name may have arrived in North America with the Highland Scots in the 18th century, where it has since been used by many generations of American descendants.

The modern variant MacClrae is found primarily in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The name is also well established in Scotland, England, Ireland, and many other English speaking countries.

McElrae is sometimes anglicised to inflammatory forms such as Riley, Reily, Raly, Ralie, or Reile. It is also often found as MacElroy, a more French form of the name.

Surnames derived from McElrae include Mowat, Cloys, Erly, Cagley, Galley, Calway, Glawe, Glore, Clarey, Clairs, McCleer, McElroi, McErley, McCalray, McAlraey, MacCarer, MacElroy, MacGrier, McFeinn, McInroe, McClaurin, and McLaurain.

Many of these alternate spellings, variant spellings and surnames are still seen today, but the original spelling of McElrae remains the most commonly used across all regions.

Famous people with the name McElrae

  • Paul McElrae: TV presenter, writer and actor
  • Andrew McElrae: Professional American football player
  • Debora McElrae: Professional dancer
  • Sam McElrae: Professional golfer
  • Ken McElrae: Former professional baseball player
  • Brooke McElrae: Singer/Songwriter
  • Cameron McElrae: Professional basketball player
  • Alex McElrae: Professional distance runner
  • Jenny McElrae: Professional diver
  • Jim McElrae: Racecar driver

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