McCartney Surname Genealogy

is an anglicized form of the Gaelic MacArtain
in Scotland or MacCartaine in
Ireland.  The Gaelic prefix mac
means “son of” and Artain is a diminutive of the Old
byname Art, meaning “bear” or “hero
.”  The
Macartney spelling has generally given way to McCartney.

McCartney Resources on

McCartney Ancestry

have their
origin in Scotland
although their earlier roots may have been in Ireland.
These Macartneys were to be found in Galloway
in SW Scotland in the 16th century. 
where they settled in Kirkudbright were
Auchinleck, Blaiket, and a spot known at the time as Macartney:

  • the
    had acquired the farm at Auchinleck, originally part of Dundrennan
    through the grace of the Maxwells in 1587.  These
    Macartneys were said to be originally from Ayrshire.  Their
    forebear was George Macartney
    who had married Mary McCollough in Kirkudbright
    in 1522.  Captain George Macartney of this
    for Ulster in 1649 to form a new line there.  But
    Macartneys remained at Auchinleck, as their gravestones in Dundrennan Abbey
  • the
    farm at Blaiket Mains in
    Urr parish came into Macartney hands a little later.
    These Macartneys suffered for their adherence
    to the Presbyterian religion, being fined and imprisoned and having
    estates seized.  
  • the
    area known at
    Macartney lay at the junction of Crossmichael and Kirkpatrick.  Possibly the Macartneys of Mickle Leathes lived
    there.  It is now called Walton Park.

Macartneys began leaving Galloway for Ulster in the 17th
century.  The Maxwells seem to have been
instrumental in this migration.

land was very poor, stony and hilly and was not much good for anything
than cattle raising.  The move to Ulster
was prompted by the promise of good productive land in Ireland.  As well, people were escaping from the
oppression of the Church of England religion which could dispossess and
imprison those who refused to abandon their Presbyterian faith.”

reassembled in Antrim.

Today there is a sizeable McCartney population in Glasgow and its
environs.  But many of them are probably
the descendants of McCartneys
in Ireland who had crossed back to Scotland:

  • James McCartney, for instance, had come as a young man in
    the 1860’s to Glasgow in search of work.  He
    married there, worked as an onion dealer, and raised his
    family in
    the Gorbals.
  • John McCartney was a Glasgow tram driver
    disabled by work injuries in the 1920’s.  His
    son Hugh was active as a trade unionist
    and became a Scottish Labor MP, as did his son Ian who later served in
    Blair Cabinet.  Sadly, Ian’s son Hugh was
    a young man who died of a heroin overdose.

Ireland.   Macartneys
settled in Antrim. 
was in fact listed in Petty’s Census
of 1659 as a
principal Irish surname of the barony of Belfast.

Belfast.  Captain
Macartney arrived in Belfast in 1649 at the time of Cromwell.  The family was to remain a force in Belfast
and in county Antrim for generations to come.  He was one of three George Macartney merchants
in Belfast in the late 17th

His son George was a Belfast MP
for fifty years and bought the Lissanoure estate in Ballymoney in 1733.  The family thus became country gentlemen.  A later George Macartney set off for London,
married well, and was a distinguished diplomat, his career culminating
in his
appointment as the first Ambassador to China in 1792. The
Lissanoure estate
passed through many Macartney hands after his
death in
1806.  But the last of them proved to be
reckless with his money and the estate had to be sold in 1943.

Meanwhile William Macartney sat
in the Irish House of Commons for Belfast from 1747 to 1760.  His son Sir John also sat in the House and
was created a baronet in 1799

McCartneys have not been immune from the sectarianism
in Belfast society.  However, two who
have been killed in the Troubles have been on the Catholic divide in
– John
McCartney killed by Loyalists in the 1920 Belfast riots and Robert
also a Catholic, but killed in 2005 apparently by members of the
Provisional IRA.

England.  Liverpool
followed Glasgow as a destination for Ulstermen.  Paul
McCartney’s family history
was perhaps typical of many, with
his McCartney
forebears arriving from Ireland in the 1850’s and both of his parents
being of
Irish origin.

America.  McCartneys
in America have tended to be Scots Irish, with many of them entering
Pennsylvania.  Their numbers

  • James McCartney who arrived
    from Ireland in 1770 and fought in the
    Revolutionary War.  He later moved west
    to Ohio. 
  • Ephraim
    McCartney who was born
    in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in 1772.   His
    family moved around Pennsylvania in the early 19th
    century before
    heading west to Iowa in the 1850’s.
  • and
    William McCartney, born in Pennsylvania
    in 1781, who headed west in the early 1800’s to Ohio and then to South
    Indiana (where he was a judge and land speculator).
    His son Thomas migrated to California at the
    time of the Gold Rush. 

Hussey Macartney,
eldest son of Sir John the baronet, came to Melbourne in 1847.  Five years later he was appointed the Dean of
Melbourne’s first cathedral, a position he was to hold until his death
in 1894.  Hussey’s son John operated sheep
stations in
Queensland and had a passion for riding.

“In 1859 John took up the Waveroley run
near Rockhampton.  He soon became a legend, both as a horseman and
as a collector of runs.  He was said to have regularly ridden the
125 miles from Waverley to Rockhampton in one day, carried out all
necessary business, and retraced the 125 miles the next day.”

McCartney Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

McCartney Names

George Macartney was an
Irish-born British statesman, colonial administrator and diplomat of
18th century.
Paul McCartney made his name
with John Lennon and the Beatles in the 1960’s and has continued as a
best-selling recording artist.

Select McCartneys Today

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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