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Surname McGaw - Meaning and Origin

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McGaw: What does the surname McGaw mean?

The surname McGaw is of Irish origin and primarily found in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The name is derived from the Gaelic "Mac Gabha," meaning "son of the smith." Much like other surnames beginning with 'Mc' or 'Mac,' it denotes familial relationships – in this case, "son of." The "smith" part likely refers to the occupation of the original bearers of the name, indicating they were craftsmen, particularly in metalwork. As trade and craft skills were often passed down through generations, such names became familial markers. It's also important to note variations of the name exist, including McGough and McGoff. Despite its origins in Ireland, the name is particularly common in Ayrshire, Scotland, due to historical migrations.

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McGaw: Where does the name McGaw come from?

The surname McGaw is of Irish origin, derived from the Gaelic personal name "Mac Gabhann" which translates to "son of the smith." The Mac Gabhann family was a part of the larger Clan Breasail, known for their metalworking skills. They originally hailed from the region of County Cavan in the province of Ulster, located in the northern part of Ireland.

While individuals bearing the name McGaw immigrated to various parts of the world during the Irish diaspora, the surname is still most common in Ireland today. However, high concentrations of McGaws can also be found in other English-speaking countries where Irish immigrants historically settled, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In particular, the name is reportedly prevalent in Northern Ireland due to historical and geographical connections.

Variations of the surname McGaw

The surname McGaw is of Scottish origin and has various spelling variants including McGaughey, McGowan, McGeough, McGough, and McGuffie, among others. Its Irish equivalent is typically Maguire. The name, irrespective of its spelling variant, implies son of the blacksmith.

McGaw is a variant of the Scottish surnames M'Gaw, M'Ghie, M'Gee, which are anglicized forms of the Old Gaelic name "Mac Gaoithin", a patronymic from the personal name Gaoithin translating as "little wind". This surname also exists in Northern Ireland, having been introduced presumably by Scottish settlers during the 17th Century Plantation scheme.

Changing economic and cultural conditions influenced the spelling of the surname over time. There's also an undeniable inconsistency because scribes recorded many early Scottish names as they sounded rather than sticking to any strict spelling rules. Further variations of this surname include Magaw, MacGaw, MacGee, MacGoe, M'Ghie and M'Gie.

The surnames Mackay, MacHugh, and MacGuffog can be confused with McGaw as they share similar phonetics and origins. Some of these names blur with each other, as sharing of Gaelic, Celtic and Norse roots often leads to overlap in names, spelling, and meaning. It can be much like untangling a medieval, linguistic knot. They are, however, different surnames.

Famous people with the name McGaw

  • Will McGaw: professional lacrosse player for the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League.
  • Brett McGaw: sculptor and printmaker from Kansas City.
  • Jenna McGaw: Australian American singer, songwriter and dancer.
  • Shane McGaw: former professional Australian rules footballer who played for the Fremantle Football Club in the Australian Football League.
  • Scott McGaw: former American football quarterback who played for the New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints in the National Football League.
  • Lacy McGaw: American singer-songwriter and actress from Alpine, TX.
  • Shannon McGaw: American film director and producer best known for her independent feature film credits, including The Valley and Paperman.
  • Michael McGaw: Republican Party politician who served one term in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
  • Kevin McGaw: former Australian rules footballer who represented St Kilda in the Victorian Football League.
  • Patrick McGaw: Irish sculptor who is best known for his works in bronze.

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