They’re not like those jaunty Irish surnames that kind of jump out and hit you in the face–no way you could see Finnegan or Donovan as anything else. But Scottish surnames, somewhat more subtly, have affected American nomenclature to a surprising degree.
Many that could pass for Irish or English are actually old Scottish clan names, and several have long been accepted as first names in this country–a list that includes Allan, Bruce, Douglas, Leslie, Mitchell, Murray, Stewart, Gordon, Lindsay, and, of course, Scott.
Scottish surnames are divided into two groups: Highland and Lowland. Highlanders didn’t use fixed family names until relatively late–until the 1700’s a man was often designated by his father’s name or would adopt the last name of a laird to curry his favor. It was the Gaelic Highlanders who used the prefix ‘Mac‘ to denote ‘son of”.
In the Lowlands, which were chiefly populated by English-speakers, many of the surnames are indistinguishable from the English–names like Crawford, Gibson and Russell. (TRIVIA NOTE: A law was passed in 1603 by the Scottish Privy Council abolishing the name MacGregor and sentencing anyone bearing it to death.) As in other cultures, many Scottish surnames have their origins in place names (eg Leith) and occupations (Clark from clerk).
So,whether or not your ancestors hail from the land of haggis, bagpipes and Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, here are some Scottish surnames that could be used as firsts. Though traditionally used for boys, some can (as in Cameron Diaz and Campbell Brown) be used for girls as well.
KENNEDY (Scots Gaelic and Irish)