McGeachie Surname Origins


McGeachie, a Gaelic name believed to be derived from Eachaidh or Eochaid. The surname is arguably of both Irish and Scottish origin. Variants from the Gaelic Eochaid or Eachaidh include McGeachy, MacKeachie, McGahey, McGachy, McGachan, McGahen, McCaughan, MacGauchy, McGechie and MacEachan to name but a few.

According to leading authorities; "the name Eachaidh or Eachadha is derived from a Gaelic word for horse, and is often used interchangeably in the annals for Eochaid or Eochadha. As Eochaidh became anglicised as Oghy, Eachaidh became anglicised as Aghy.

There are various references to the name Eochaidh or Eachaidh throughout early history. Keatings The History of Ireland shows several pages of Eochaidhs as Irish Kings, while there are numerous Eochaidhs in the Royal line of Scotlands Kings. In county Londonderry there is a town named Bellaghy, which when translated into Irish is Baile Eachaidh or Town of Eachaidh.

Black states Mag Eachaidh, an Ulster variant of Mag Eochadha. M'Gachie in Bordland, 1684. Neil M'Gechie in Portadow, Kilchenzie parish, 1686 (Argyll). Robert M'Keachie in Darnow 1711 (Wigtown).

Roland MacGachen rendered homage to Edward I of England and his name appears in the Ragman Roll of 1296.
In 1528 Alexander McQuuichin of Dalquhat was outlawed. Ponts Manuscript of 1624 records a McGahen of Dalquhat, whilst Alexander McGeachie of Dalwhat is mentioned in Glencairn Dumfriesshire, Kirk session record of 1694. According to John Corrie (The annals of an Inland Parish) The third rivulet on the north side is called Dalwhat water where stands the dwelling place of a lineage of the name MGachen descended of one MGachen, a private standard bearer in the Bruce wars.

According to Andrew McKerral, Kintyre in the Seventeenth Century;

"The MacEachans of Tangy are a family of which we have little early record, but it is most probable that they were feuars of the church lands of Skierchanzie, or Kilkenzie, which in pre-Reformation days belonged to Iona. As church lands were not detailed in the rentals of 1505, this connection cannot be traced therein, but the names of several of the family occur as tacksmen of secular lands in the same locality. In 1623 Charles MacEachan of Tangy, who was later factor to Lord Lorne, received a charter of the lands of Tangy and others from the Bishop of Argyll."

"The MacEachrans of Kilellan were the Mairs of Fee of South Kintyre, and were represented in 1505 by Colin of Kilellan, who, in 1499, had received a charter of his lands of Kilellan, and of his office of Mair of Fee, from King James IV. He is almost certainly the Colin who, with his spouse Katherine, is commemorated in the fine but injured Celtic Cross which lies in Kilkerran cemetery, and most probably was either a brother or nephew of Ivar MacEachran, Rector of Kylreacan (probably Kilneachtan in Islay), who is commemorated on the Town Cross of Campbeltown. They lost their estate temporarily during the Montrose wars, but recovered it from the Marquis of Argyll in 1659, and Killelan was possessed by them down to about 1740."

Other Kintyre sources record Donald McGaichie, Millicallim McGaichie, 1636, Angus McGechie, 1653 from a Kintyre tenants list, with John, Donald, and Normley McGechie, from the Hearth Tax roll of 1694.

William McGaheye settled in York, Virginia, in 1653, and an Alexander McGeachy, from Argyll, emigrated to America around 1783.

Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire show various families in the old parish records; Helen McGeachie daughter born to George McGeachie (sailer) and his spouse Margaret Watson 3rd Jan 1745 in Greenock, Renfrew.

George McGeachie born around 1753 of Port Glasgow, Renfrew and his spouse Jean Currie born around 1757 of Port Glasgow, Renfrew: had four children Mary McGeachie born 27th Jul 1779 Port Glasgow, Renfrew, Margaret McGeachie born 29th Nov 1782 Port Glasgow, Renfrew, Peter McGeachie born 12th Apr 1785 Port Glasgow, Renfrew, and George McGeachie born 16th Jul 1787 Port Glasgow, Renfrew.

George McGeachie married Jean Swan 10th Dec 1815, Calton, Glasgow.



G.F.Black, The Surnames of Scotland, MacGeachie, MacGeachy, MacKeachie are from Ireland, Mag Eachaidh, an Ulster variant of Mag Eochadha, M'Gachie in Bordland, 1684, Neil M'Gechie in Portadow, Kilchenzie parish, 1686 (Argyll). Robert M'Keachie in Darnow, 1711 (Wigton).

Septs of the MacDonalds of Clanranald, MacEachan, MacGeachie, MacKechnie etc, All forms of the name, viz., "Hector" or Eachann. This sept of the MacDonalds is descended from Hector (Gaelic Eachann), second son of Roderick MacDonald, 3rd of Moydart and Clanranald. Stephen James MacDonald, Duke of Tarentum, Napoleon's celebrated marshal, was son of Neil MacEachainn of South Uist, who was out with Prince Charles in 1745, and afterwards accompanied the royal fugitive to France.

Clan Donald Centre - Skye. Clanranld 2, It is suggested that when he accompanied the Prince to France, Neil MacEachen, anxious to remain with his royal master, called himself MacDonald because of the Prince's affection for the name after the loyalty of Flora and others. (According to Marshal MacDonald, after his father reached France, " the Prince never gave him another thought.") This is an interesting debate, which cannot be persued here. The point is, for the present: if the MacEachens descend from Clanranald, they are, of course, a sept of the Clan Donald. If they came from MacIaine, and later adopted the name MacDonald after living on Clanranald land for many years, that would make them Adherents. It is quite likely that there were two Hectors, whose descendants would both be MacEachens -- but the different pedigrees claimed for Neil McEachen and his famous son cannot both be correct. Spellings include: MacEachan, MacEachin, MacGeachie, MacKeochan, MacKechnie, sometimes MacKichan, but this may be derived from MacFhithea-chain, "Son of the Little Raven", an Argyllshire name. This set of names must be distinguished from those deriving from MacEachern in Kintyre (Clan Donald South). Many MacEachens emigrated to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, where the name is still found. It also remains quite common in South Uist and Arisaig.

Andrew McKerral - Two Old Kintyre Lawsuits: with some notes of the families involved in them: McShennags of Lephenstrath ; Omeys of Kilcolmkill ; and the McEachrans of Killelan. The above "guid gangin plea" had reference to the estate of Killelan in Southern Kintyre which was, for centuries, the patrimony of the influential family of the MacEachrans. The family is said to have been founded in the middle of the 12th century by Toiseach ban MacEachran of Nether Craignish, who at the time was foster father to the young chief of Craignish. In order to increase the power and prestige of his foster son MacEachran obtained by stratagem a marriage for him with the daughter of MacDonald of Islay, one of the most powerful of the island chiefs. At a later date and one day while the old Toiseach was supervising the building of his new castle he overheard the young lady complain about the smallness of the estate to maintain two families (res augustae domi) and taking umbridge at this and leaving his castle unfinished he gathered up his followers, packed up his belongings and set out for Ireland, we are told, to found a new colony. He swore that he would rest and take up residence at the place where his withies, that is the wicker ropes that bound the panniers on his horses, first gave way thus following an old "freit". The withies we are told broke at Killelan, in Southern Kintyre, and there his followers, drawing their weapons, dispossessed the owners and took possession of Killelan by the sword. This was a not uncommon method of carving out a patrimony in the Highlands in the old days.

The family, which became the most influential and numerous in Southern Kintyre held Killelan till the middle of the eighteenth century first under the Lords of the Isles, secondly under the Kings of Scotland and finally under the Campbells of Argyle. They also held the old and important office of hereditary Mairs or Mairs of Fee of Southern Kintyre. This was a relic of the old Celtic office of Mair or Maor the holders of which were at the head of a baile or township. On the introduction of the Feudal System and the establishment of the sheriffdoms the Mair became a kind of Sheriff officer whose duties were to serve summons, effect arrests and assist in the collection of the crown revenues. They were provided with a red wand as a symbol of their office and with a horn by which they had to make their presence known when they were on duty. The office was a very remunerative one for a large share of the fines of the court and of the estates of forfeited persons went to the Mairs and thus we find that it was sought after by some of the noble families of Scotland. Needles to say it was also often a very unpopular office and the records show frequent instances of Mairs having been assaulted and even killed, in the course of their duty. Up to the 18th century Kintyre had two Mairs of Fee the corresponding office for Northern Kintyre being held by the Mackays of Ugadale.

On the fall of the Lords of the Isles in 1493 the MacEachrans of Killelan became King's vassals. By a crown charter of King James the Fourth dated April 1499 Colin Makauchan (MacEachran) of Killelan was confirmed in the office of Mair of Fee of Southern Kintyre and given a grant of the 2 merkland of Killeban (sic); the 2 merkland of Pennygown; the 2 merkland of Gartloskan; the 2 merkland of Ellarig and Arynaskansach (Elrig and Ardnascavoch)-- 8 merklands in all to be held of the King and his succesors, MacEachran to perform the services used and wont. Presumably before forfeiture they had been holding the same lands of the Lords of the Isles. Again in 1507 MacEachran got a further crown grant in liferent of a 12 merkland including the lands of Dounglas, Sron, Glennadull-woch-trach, Tredonyll, Gartnalarg, Querrafour, Largnacraig, Auchinglas, Glenramskill-more with their pertinents and a mandate of the office of Chamberlainship of Southern Kintyre. Another of the family Gillespie was also a freeholder possessing at this date a 8 merkland comprising the lands of Owegill, Achequhork, Kilbrid, Kynachan, Achenaslesaige and Ochtorag by letters granted under the signet. Still another, John MacEachran, is shownin the Kintyre Crown rental of 1505 as having a tack of the 12 merkland of Kinlock - a very large holding. Some of the family were at this date churchmen and one of these Andrew who was Rector of Ellenoan and Kilquhoan in Ardnamurchan, erected the Campbeltown Cross in memory of his father Ivar who was also a Rector. Mr Andrew died before 1515 and the date of the erection of the Campbeltown Cross is approximately 1500 A.D. Still another MacEachran, or it may have been one of those already mentioned , is shown in the 1505 rental as having mortified one merk of land for the support of the church of Kilkerran. The rental of the next year, 1506, has the note that Stockadill, a 2 merkland was assigned "to the Rector Makachern for 2 merks rent".

The family continued to hold the lands of Killelan and also the office of Mair of Fee up to the Dunaverty affair in 1647. In that year the then owner of Killelan Angus MacEachran joined up with Sir Alex Macdonald MacColkittoch and with the two Macdonalds of Sanda was executed there. Before his execution he handed over to Sir James Turner, the Adjutant of Leslie's army "ane Litell reid box full of writtes and evidentis belonging to himself. Quhilk he did earnestlie requeist me to delyver to the laitt Marques of Argyll for to be preservit for himself and his children's use". The little red box doubtlessly contained the two charters of King James the IV mentioned above and sasines, following on them, of the Killelan Lands.

Twelve years later his eldest son Colin received back his lands of Killelan in feu ferme from Archibald Marquis of Argyle. The disposition is dated at Inveraray 21st November 1659 and states the conditions of the grant "which the said Colin MacEachrane acknowledges to be a very singular favour and therefore overgives any right therein his umquhill father or any of his predecessors had". In other words he renounced his former vassalage to the Crown in favour of a new vassalage to the Marquis - a common fate of many families in Argyll.

In the present case the Killelan laird Neil MacEacharn seems to have got into deep waters through extravagance from which the Duchess of Argyle apparently tried to rescue him. This was Elizabeth Talmash wife of the first Duke of Argyll and mother of the celebrated John Duke of Argyll and Greenwich who at the date of the case was residing as a widow at Limecraigs, Campbeltown. Dougall McNeill, was of course a scion of a well known local family which inherited the estate, by marriage, of the Mackays of Ugadale, a little before this date. The MacEachrans of Killelan in the main line apparently came to an end before 1751 as in the rental of that year Killelan and Pennygown are shown as belonging to Alexander McMillan of Dunmore, but a side branch represented by Capt Colin McEachran R.N. of Oatfield lasted out till the death of the later in 1845.

The McGachen's of Dalquhat or Dalwhat - Goerge.F.Black, The Surnames of Scotland, Alexander McQuuichin of Dalquhat was outlawed in 1528. Pont's manuscript gives arms for McGachen of Dalquhat as Or, a Dexter hand, Gules. Alexander McGeachie of Dalwhat is mentioned in 1694 kirk session records for Glencairn Dumfriesshire. According to John Corrie, The Annals of an Inland Parish Glencairn Dumfriesshire, "the third rivulet on the north side is Dalwhat Water where stands the dwelling place of a linage of the name M'Gachen descendant of one M' Gachen, a private standard-bearer in the Bruce wars, and doth yet continue the name." ** Standard-bearer, a soldier who carries a regimental flag; (fig) leader. The Rebellion of 1715 and 1745, Robert M'Gachan of Dalqhat listed as joining Craigdarroch and his men on their way to Stirling. M'Gachan listed as holding lands in the Parish of Old.

McEachin Origins - Jeffrey D. McEachin - In 1609, two years after Archibald, 7th Earl of Argyll was awarded a charter to all Kintyre lands, Charles McLauchlan VEachen and his father, Lauchlan McLauchlan of Killarow became feuars of the church lands of Kilchenzie.
Through the remainder of the seventeenth century the McEachen (also recorded as McEachine) family became one of the most influential families in central Kintyre having strong established ties with the Campbells as well as the MacDonalds. Charles McEachen made his home on Tangy farm located between Killarow and Killocraw farms, and it is quite probable that it is his grave slab that is found in the old Kilchenzie Churchyard. The large slab has a carved soldier and the inscription:

HEC est jacit MEACHIN

He was cousin to Alexander Oig MacDonald of Smerbie who in turn was a cousin of Archibald Oig MacDonald of Sanda; Alexander Oigs wife, More McAlester, was the sister of Hector McAlester , the Laird of Loup. In 1620, Charles McEachen and Alexander Oig MacDonald served as sheriff. In the years from 1633 to 1636 Charles served as factor over Lord Lornes Skeirchanyie (Kilchenzie) lands; it was Lord Lorne who would become the famous Marquis of Argyll. By 1666 the McEachen family held the lease to the farms of Tangy, Lagalgarve, Killocraw, Putechantie, Corputechane, and Killarow all within the bounds of the United Parish of Killean and Kilchenzie. Record is found of a great house being built in 1670 by the McEachen proprietor of Tangy, very likely Charles McEachens son also named Charles, in which the Earl of Argyll was entertained.

With the collapse of the 9th Earl of Argylls 1685 rebellion against James VII of Scotland (James II of England) the McEachens who had given their support to their Campbell chief now had their Kintyre lands forfeited, whereupon they fled to the security of northern Ireland, later changing their name to "McCaughan." At this point many of those who had farmed the McEachen lands now moved northward taking leases from the McAlisters of Loup who held the Kilcalmonell Parish lands of Loup, Balnakiel and Ronachan; the McAlisters had not joined in the ill-fated rebellion. In 1694 Archibald, 10th Earl of Argyll issued a Decree of Adjudication against Duncan McEachen, and in 1699 John McEachen of Balliemeanoch, Ireland sold the lands to John McEachen in Ballagan (Ballevain) in Kintyre who was then granted a lease charter to them by the Earl of Argyll in 1701.

I would also like to thank Capt. Ian MacDonald (Ret.) of Clachan - Kintyre Historian for his invaluable help in researching my surname.

Other Sources

Gaelic references;

Black - The Surnames of Scotland, Pages, various pages.
MacLysaght - Irish surnames, various pages.
Keating The History of Ireland, various pages.
Woulfe Irish Names and Surnames, various pages.
Pinkerton An enquiry into the History of Scotland - Vol 2, various pages.
Wikipedia various pages.

Chronological name list;

MacDonald - Seals of Scotland, various pages.
Black - The Surnames of Scotland, various pages.
Pont - Manuscript 1624,
Glencairn Kirk session records 1694,
Various Kintyre Records Hearth Tax Roll of 1694
List of Kintyre tenants C 1636
Sanda Rentals
Argyle Estate Leases
Work Horse tax 1797 - 1798
John Corrie Annuls of an Inland Parish 1910, various pages.
Andrew McKerral, Kintyre in the Seventeenth Century, various pages.
Old Parish Records,
Mormon IGI International Genealogical Index,
Clan Donald Centre Armadale Isle of Skye.
Various, Clan and Surname History Books.
Alasdair MacLean A MacDonald for the Prince.
Rev A MacDonald - The Clan Donald 3 Volumes.
National Archives of Scotland.
Family Tree DNA Database Various DNA Surname Projects.
Various McGeachie Family History searches.
Capt (Ret) Ian Macdonald of Clachan.

Link from Roland MacGachen to Alexander McGeachie as follows;

Roland MacGachen (Or, a Dexter hand, apaumee and erect gules) and McGachen of Dalquhat (Or, a Dexter hand, gules) share the same Heraldry. Alexander McQuuichin of Dalquhat, McGachen of Dalquhat and Alexander McGeachie of Dalwhat share the same location name.