Select McCormick Surname Genealogy

The surname McCormick or McCormack is an anglicized form of the Old Gaelic patronymic MacCormaigor or "son of Cormac," Cormac being a personal name from the Celtic corbmac meaning "charioteer."

An early mention of the name occurred in 880 when the monks of the Abbey of Iona off Scotland recorded the demise of their abbot Fedorach MacCormaic. 
The name was also popular in Ireland during medieval times - in part due to Saint Cormac, the first Bishop of Cashel in southern Ireland. 

The main spelling variants today are McCormick and McCormack.  McCormack is more common in Ireland, McCormick elsewhere.

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Ireland.  There was, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, a McCormack sept in the Fermanagh-Longford area during the 14th and 15th centuries.  By the late 1500’s the McCormacks were recorded as one of the leading gentry in county Cork, with those of Muskerry being powerful enough to raise a large force to assist Desmond in the Elizabethan wars.   Donogh McCormack, however, was killed in an ambush in 1601.  Tradition has him as the builder of Kanturk castle in NW Cork.

Another McCormick base in Ireland was county Antrim in Ulster where Scots McCormicks had come from the Isle of Mull.  The best-known of these McCormicks was Captain James McCormick who fought on the Protestant side at the siege of Londonderry in 1689 and was granted a coat of arms featuring a mailed fist clutching a spear.  His family subsequently emigrated to America.  

The McCormick name was also to be found in Derry; while one McCormick family traces itself back to 1749 and John and Jane McCormick of Drumbane in Donegal near the border with Tyrone.

Scotland.  Gilchrist mac Cormac, the first bishop of Dunkeld in the early 12th century, is thought to have been the progenitor of the MacMillan clan. 

However, McCormicks were mainly to be found on the west coast of Scotland, close to Ireland, where they had been subsumed under the McLeans of Lochbuie.  McCormicks continued on the Isle of Mull until the 19th century when the Clearances caused an exodus
Meanwhile some Scots Irish McCormicks made the reverse journey back to Scotland during the famine years.

.  The early McCormicks coming to America seem to have been Scots or Scots Irish:
  • One McCormick line came to Virginia from Ulster around 1700.  The first recorded of this line was John McCormick of Winchester in Virginia, born in 1754, who fought on the American side in the Revolutionary War.  He and his family later moved west to Ohio and then to Indiana (where they were one of the first white settlers).
  • Thomas McCormick, the son of the gallant Captain James McCormick, left Antrim for Pennsylvania in 1734.  One line from Thomas, which later included Colonel Thomas McCormick of Harrisburg, stayed in Pennsylvania; another line through son Robert moved south in 1779 to the fertile Shenandoah valley in Virginia; while the line from Dr. John McCormick began in Frederick county, now West Virginia, and moved onto Tennessee in the early 1800's.
  • John McCormick arrived in Pennsylvania from Scotland with his family as a three year old in 1759.  He fought in the Revolutionary War and later settled in Ohio.
  • Duncan and Katherine McCormick left Argyllshire in Scotland and came with other Scottish settlers to Richmond county, North Carolina in 1791.
Cyrus McCormick developed his famous reaper at the family farm at Walnut Grove in the Shenandoah valley.  He and his brother Leander moved to Chicago in 1847 and the McCormick family there became one of the most powerful in America in the mid-19th century.  Robert McCormick of this family was the belligerent publisher of the Chicago Tribune for over thirty years.

.  The first McCormicks in Canada were probably Samuel and Mary McCormick from Derry in Ireland who came in 1769.  Family lore has it that their vessel had been bound for Virginia, but - as a result of a storm off Sable Island - ended up in Nova Scotia where they decided to stay.  Land grants for McCormicks in Cumberland county, Nova Scotia date from the 1820's.

Other early arrivals were two McCormick brothers, Donald and Angus, who left their Hebridean home in Scotland on the Alexander in 1772.  Donald eventually settled on Cape Breton Island off Nova Scotia.  A number of McCormicks from the Isle of Mull came to Ontario in the 1850’s following the clearances and evictions on the island.

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

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Cyrus McCormick, born in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, invented and patented a mechanical harvesting machine in 1834. 
Peter McCormick was the Scottish-born composer of Australia’s national anthem, Advance Australia Fair.
John McCormack was a famous Irish tenor of the early 20th century.
Robert McCormick was the publisher of the Chicago Tribune from 1920 to 1955.
Mark McCormack was the American lawyer and agent who founded IMG, the international management organization serving sports figures and celebrities.

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  • 25,000 in the UK (most numerous in Antrim)
  • 26,000 in America (most numerous in Florida) 
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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