McIntosh Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select McIntosh Meaning
Mackintosh is the anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac an Toisich,
meaning “‘son of the chief.” Mackintosh later became McIntosh.
Mackintosh is also, through the pioneering work of Charles McIntosh, a
term for raincoat and, because of farmer John McIntosh, an apple
variety.  MacIntosh had a second lease of life when Apple named
their computer the Macintosh.

McIntosh Resources on

McIntosh Ancestry

Scotland.  There appears to have been two original septs of this name, one in Perthshire and the other more importantly in Inverness. 

Mackintoshes in Inverness date back to the 13th century when the Gaelic name of Mac an Toisich was first adopted. Moy Hall near Inverness became the home of the clan chiefs. The clan was involved in the war for Scottish independence and subsequently spent much of their time feuding with neighboring clans. They were Jacobite supporters in 1715 and in 1745.  Lady Anne Farquharson-Mackintosh rallied 350 men of the Mackintosh clan to fight at Culloden.

“She famously greeted her husband with the words: ‘Your servant, captain,’ to which he replied: ‘Your servant, colonel,’ thereby giving her the nickname of ‘Colonel’ Anne.”

Bonnie Prince Charles was received by Lady Mackintosh at Moy and the Prince’s bed is still to be seen in Moy Hall today.

Mackintosh has remained very much a name of NE Scotland, and in particular of Inverness. Many McIntosh families were recorded as working on the Grant Balmacaan estate in Glenurquhart in the 1700’s. Sir James Mackintosh, the distinguished jurist and historian, came from the Killochy branch of the family in Inverness.  

The Macintoshes of the Raigmore estate overlooking the Moray Firth have been commemorated in the tune Mrs. Macintosh of Raigmore.  John Mackintosh of Aberarder was Provost of Inverness between 1794 and 1803. And one family traces itself back to John McIntosh who was born in Petty in the Nairn valley and married Isobel Cameron there in 1776. His family were fishermen.

England. There were
Mackintoshes south of the border. John Mackintosh
and his wife Violet bought a pastry shop in Halifax, Yorkshire in
1890. In order to attract customers they decided to sell a
special toffee developed by Violet which blended the traditional
brittle English butterscotch with soft American caramel. In time
Mackintosh’s became a brand known for its toffee and later, under sons
Harold and Eric, for confectionaries such as Quality Street and Rolo.

America. John McIntosh

moved his family to Georgia in 1736 with a group of a hundred
Scottish settlers, founding the town of Darien, Georgia. Lachlan
McIntosh was an American general during the Revolutionary War; while
his cousin William McIntosh moved among the Creek Indian nation to
recruit them to
the American side.

William’s son Chief
William McIntosh
was known as the
“White Warrior” and became a full-fledged chief of the Creeks. However, he was murdered by irate Creeks in
1825. His son Chilly survived the attack
and he, like his half-brother Daniel and nephew Roley, were prominent
Creek leaders
in Georgia and the Indian territory which later became Oklahoma. McIntosh county in Georgia was named after
this distinguished family. The book A
History and Genealogy of Chief William McIntosh
was written by Harriet
Corbin in 1967.

Canada. John
immigrated to Canada from Inverness in 1796 and settled to farm in
Dundas county, Ontario. Fifteen years later he discovered the
original tree which was to bear the famous McIntosh apple.
His sons
and grandson were to oversee the transformation of the McIntosh from a
locally celebrated apple to an important commercial orchard fruit.


McIntosh Miscellany

Mackintosh Clan Origins.  The Macintosh
clan claim descent from the royal house of Duff, through Shaw or Seach
the second son of Duncan Macduff, Earl of Fife.
Shaw was part of a force led by King Malcolm IV which repressed
rebellion in Moray in 1160.  For this
action he was
awarded the lands of Petty and Breachley in
Invernesshire and appointed the Constable of Inverness castle.  Assuming the name “Mac-an-toisch”
which means “Son of the Thane or Chief,” he began his own clan.

Colonel Anne Farquharson-Macintosh.  Anne Farquharson
had married Angus Mackintosh, the 22nd chief of Macintosh, in 1741.  Four years later, with the outbreak of the
rebellion, she dressed herself in male attire and raised two battalions
of the
clan for Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Her
contingent was the first to take the field at the battle of Culloden.  For her leadership was the first woman in
Scottish history to be given the title of Colonel.

story goes this woman and a handful of
her clan, fearing arrest and imprisonment, scared off 1,500
regulars by banging pots and pans, shooting off muskets and running
through the woods near Moy Hall, thereby confusing the approaching
British and
convincing them they were far outnumbered. This
incident became known as the Rout of Moy.

Anne was also famous for helping
Bonnie Prince Charlie evade capture by the British and allowing him to
stay at
Moy during the 1745 uprising.

author Janet Paisley wrote a novel based on Lady Anne’s exploits, White Rose Rebel published in 2007.

John Mackintosh of Aberarder.  John Mackintosh
of Aberarder was Provost of Inverness from 1794 to 1797 and from 1800
1803.  The Provost used to boast that he
had been wounded at Culloden.  In fact he
had been too young to fight and the real story ran as follows:

“A significant testimony to the wanton
cruelty of the English troopers existed in the person of Provost John
of Inverness, father of the late Mr. Charles MacIntosh of Aberarder.

an infant of eighteen months at the
time of the Prince’s stay at Inverness, he had been sent with his
nurse, to be
out of the way, to a house somewhere in the neighborhood of Culloden.  A few days after the battle a party of
dragoons had gone into the house in the nurse’s absence and, finding
the child in
a cradle, they after pillaging the house placed the cradle with the
infant in
it on the fire. When found by the nurse,
the embryo magistrate was a good deal scorched; and till his dying day
bore the
marks on his arms.”

had two sons,
William and Phineas, who left to seek their fortunes in the West Indies.  William died unmarried, it is not known
where.  Phineas Mackintosh, known as
Phinny Fool, was later well known in Inverness for his eccentricity and

The Mackintosh Raincoat.  Charles Macintosh
devoted all his spare time in Glasgow to science and in particular to chemistry.  In this he was highly
successful.  His experiments with one of
the by-products of tar, naphtha, led to his invention of waterproof
the essence of his patent being the cementing of two thicknesses of
rubber together, the India rubber being made soluble by the action of

He patented his invention for
waterproof cloth in 1823 and the first Mackintosh coats were made in
family’s textile factory, Charles Macintosh and Co. of Glasgow.  By 1830 the company merged with the clothing
company of Thomas Hancock in Manchester.
Early coats had problems with smell, stiffness, and a tendency
to melt
in hot weather.  Hancock further improved
their waterproof fabrics, patenting a method for vulcanizing rubber in
which solved many of the problems.

John MacIntosh Mor and His Kin in Georgia.  John MacIntosh Mohr had his adventures in Georgia.  He
became a storekeeper in the colony, traded with the Indians, and fought
Spanish.  He was in fact taken prisoner
by the Spanish, transported to Spain, and languished in prison there
for some
time before being eventually released and returned to Georgia.   He died there in 1756.

His son Lachlan was a prominent figure in the
Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
But he is best remembered in Georgia history because of his
affair of
honor with Button Gwinnett.  Their duel
fought on the outskirts of Savannah in 1777 resulted in the death of
one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Accompanying John MacIntosh Mohr and his
company of Highlanders to Georgia were two of his cousins, Roderick and
John (sons
of Benjamin MacIntosh whom historians have identified as the natural
son of
Brigadier William MacIntosh from the Jacobite Uprising of 1715).

Roderlck and John MacIntosh did not tarry
long at Darien but plunged further into the wilds of the Creek Indian
and settled at MacIntosh Bluffs on the Tombigbee river in what is now
Alabama.  Roderick, known as “Old Rory” was
choleric, eccentric bachelor, held a commission as a captain in the
Army, and fought against the Spanish in the south.
John his brother was also a British captain,
lived at MacIntosh Bluffs, and married a Scotch lady of the
MacGillivray clan.

Chief William McIntosh and His Son Chilly.  In February 12, 1825 Governor Troup of Georgia and Chief William
McIntosh with eight other chiefs signed the Treaty of Indian Springs
which ceded the Creek lands east of the Chattahoochee river to the
state of Georgia.  Despite Governor Troup’s promise to protect the
Chief, McIntosh was traced back to his home in Carroll county by angry
Creek Indians.  There he was killed, his slaves run off, his crops
burned, and his cattle slaughtered.

Local legend has it that his son Chilly escaped from his family’s
burning home on the McIntosh reserve on that fateful day in 1825.
He had apparently been sleeping in an outbuilding as there was no room
in the main house.

In 1828 Chilly led the first party of Lower or McIntosh faction Creeks
out of Georgia into Indian territory.  He went on to sign the
major Creek treaties of the period, including the 1861 treaty of
alliance with the Confederate States of America.  He in fact
served as a Confederate officer during the Civil War.   After
the war he retired to his farm near Fame in present-day McIntosh
county, Oklahoma where he died in 1875.

The McIntosh Apple.  John McIntosh
was born in New York state in 1777, the son of Scottish immigrant
McIntosh who was a loyalist during the American Revolution.  He emigrated to Ontario sometime between 1795
and 1801 and settled in South Dundas township.

While clearing his property in the spring of 1811, McIntosh discovered
number of seedling apple trees growing wild.
He transplanted them to his garden.
By the following year only one had survived.
Several years later, the tree was producing
the crisp, delicious fruit that is now well known.
The discoverer eventually dubbed it the
‘McIntosh Red,’ which is still the apple’s official name.

The apple’s
subsequent fame would probably have come as an enormous surprise to
John, an
illiterate and pious Methodist farmer who had the good fortune to own
the land
on which the “one of a million” tree was found.

It wasn’t until 1870,
nearly a quarter of a century after his death, that the apple was
“introduced” and named.  Its
qualities only began to be recognized twenty years later.
horticulturist William Macoun remarked in 1907: “It is only during the
past ten
or fifteen years that the fruit has become widely known.
So great is the popularity at present that
the nurserymen cannot meet the demand for trees.”

The tree that spawned this legacy was
damaged by fire in 1894.  The McIntosh
family nursed the old tree along until 1908, the last year it produced
crop.  In 1910 it fell over.
A flat headstone now marks the spot where the
stump had remained for years.


McIntosh Names

  • Lachlan McIntosh was an American military and political leader
    during the Revolutionary War.
  • John McIntosh pioneered the
    McIntosh apple from his farm in Dundas county, Ontario in 1811.
  • Charles McIntosh invented in
    1823 the waterproofing of cloth with a rubber solution, hence the term “mackintosh” for raincoat.
  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh, born in Glasgow, was a Scottish architect and designer of the early 20th century. He was a designer in the Arts and Crafts movement and also the main exponent of Art Nouveau in Britain.

Select McIntosh Numbers Today

  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Morayshire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 23,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select McIntosh and Like Surnames

The Scottish Highlands were Gaelic-speaking and their clan names appeared first in Gaelic and only later in an English version.  Each clan controlled its own local territory and frequently fought with neighbors.  Many, however, took the clan name in order to receive clan protection.

The clan downfall came following the 1715 and 1745 uprisings with the Battle of Culloden when the clan culture was broken up and clan tartans banned (although they came back into fashion with Queen Victoria a hundred years later).  The Highland clearances, supplanting people for sheep, was a further blow and many Highlanders were forced into emigration, still speaking their native Gaelic, to Canada and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Here are some of the clan surnames that you can check out.



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