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Family Origins

Some Histories of McQueen

The McQueens probably originate from Vikings who settled in Ireland, the Outer Hebrides and Skye in Scotland.

A map showing the location of the MacQueen Clan on the north end of the Isle of Skye
Gaelic Name: MacShuibhne
Motto: Constant and faithful
Badge: Boxwood
Lands: Skye, Lewis, Argyll and Lanarkshire
Origin of Name: Gaelic, MacShuibhne (Son of the good going)

Earliest records

Map of the NebridesFrom the gaelic 'Mac Shuibhe' or 'son of Sweyn', the MacSween clan claim kinship with the Irish high kings, of the same descent as the great clan Donald. According to Alexander McQueen Quattlebaum in his book Clergymen and Chiefs the MacQueens are said to have come to Scotland from Ireland as part of the dowery of Margaret O'Cathan aka Agnes O'Cathan who according to various sources including "The Lords of The Isles" by Ronald Williams and "Skye Pioneers and the Island" by Malcolm A. MacQueen, referenced in this page on Clan Ranald on the website, married Aongus og Mac Dhomhuill aka Angus Oge de Yle, Admiral of the Western Isles, he being involved in hiding Robert the Bruce and fighting with him at Bannockburn. The marriage was probably between 1314 and 1320. This may also be the same number of MacQueens who were said to have provided an escort at the marriage between the daughter of the clan Ranald and the chief of clan MacKintosh .

Corrybrough - The seat of the MacQueens of Corryborough. CLick here to go to the source site for this image.After this union took place, many of them did not return to their homelands but chose to settle around the Findhorn valley. This branch of the family, known as clan Revan became part of the great federation of clans known as Clan Chattan and by the sixteenth century they were in possession of the lands of Corrybrough. They became a prominent and important family of the district with a house named Corrybrough as their seat. Corrybrough (also known as Corrievorrie) is situated on the River Findhorn, east of Tomatin. The house was the seat of the MacQueens (Clan Revan). The financial difficulties of Captain Donald MacQueen forced the sale of the 7,000 acre estate in 1811.

The MacQueen clansmen are also numerous on the islands of Skye and Lewis and yet another branch of the family held lands at Castle Sween in Argyllshire. It appears that the branch at Skye came down from the Outer Hebrides along with the MacDonalds from Moidart to do battle with the MacLeods The MacDonalds and the MacLeods contiously fought over the Outer Hebrides and Skye and the MacQUeens were vassals of one then the other clan. At on time John 3rd Chief of MacLeod who had an uncontrollable temper discovered 2 of his daughters betrothed to 2 young MacQueens sons of MacQueen of Roag. To stop the marriages he is said to have buried the girls alive in his castle dungeon and flogged the 2 MacQueens so savagely "that there was scarcely a spark of life left in them" (ref Clergymen and Chiefs page 4.)

The Hebridean branch of the MacQueens have long enjoyed a reputation as outstanding fishermen and also boast of having the Rev. Donald MacQueen as a kinsman. He was a minister on the isle of Skye in the eighteenth century and was described as "the most intelligent man in Skye". He was looked up to by his kinsmen and also won the admiration of Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was introduced to him on his famous tour of the Western Isles.

From the eighteenth century onwards the fortunes of the MacQueen clan failed, and the chiefs are believed to have emigrated to New Zealand. The family are now widely scattered throughout Scotland and much of the English-speaking world, and the chiefship of the clan is not established at the moment.

Tweed weavers on St Kilda. Click here to go to the source of the image.Like others across the Western Isles the people of St Kilda (the far Outer Hebridean Isle) who wove tweed cloth included MacQueens. The man on the far left of the photograph is Finlay MacQueen. Mr MacQueen was highly regarded for his skill in climbing steep cliffs to catch seabirds for food. These included fulmars, puffins, gannets and guillemots!


The extract below was kindly supplied from the book
"A McQueen Family Historical Tour"
Sheila McQueen Ellinson

McQueen Origins in Scotland

It is believed that the MacQueens of Scotland were of Norse origin, coming to Scotland with the Norsemen who occupied the Hebrides and west coast of Scotland during the ninth and tenth centuries. They were probably Vikings, who during that period of history conquered Ireland, England, Scotland and certain parts of France. In Scotland they eventually affiliated themselves with the Celtic tribes. Family names did not come into common usage until the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. Variations on the MacQueen name are Swyne, Sveinn, MacSwann, MacCuine, MacSween, etc. The transition of the name into MacQueen probably came about the fifteenth century when a branch of the family settled in Strathdearn.

The MacQueens of Corrybrough were known as Clan Revan. Because their clan was not large in numbers, they affiliated themselves with Clan MacDonald and had many intermarriages. The MacDonald Clan claimed descent from Robert Bruce, the king of Scotland, through his daughter Margery, who married Walter the High Stewart. About 1400, Malcolm Bog Mackintosh married Nora MacDonald of Modart (daughter of the chief of the clan). Nora brought several of her kinsmen to her new home in Strathdearn, among them Revan MacMulor MacAngus, of whom the Clan Revan are descended. Thus, the MacQueens of Corrybrough became aligned with Clan MacKintosh.

The Clan System flourished in the Highlands at that time, and the MacQueens of Corrybrough (Clan Revan) identified themselves with Clan Chattan, a confederation of fifteen other tribes. The MacKintoshes were the chief tribe of the confederation. A Bond of Union into the confederation was signed April 4, 1609 by Donald MacQueen of Corrybrough, John MacQueen of Little Corrybrough, and Sween MacQueen of Riagbeg. A witness was John MacQueen who was the parson of Petty. Until the last clan battle was fought in 1746, the MacQueen clan remained closely associated with the MacKintoshes.

Donald MacQueen, who signed the bond, was prominent in records of 1594, 1609, and 1623. His son George was mentioned in 1620. Donald died about 1623 and his nephew Angus MacQueen succeeded him as the Chief. Angus died about 1676 and was succeeded by his son, Donald MacQueen, who in 1685 and 1697 was Commissioner of Supply for the County of Inverness. He was succeeded by his son, James MacQueen the younger of Corrybrough, who was a captain in the Clan Chattan Regiment in the Rising of 1715. He died in 1762 and was succeeded by his son Donald MacQueen who was a sheriff substitute in Inverness and a noted authority on Celtic literature. He died in 1792.

He was succeeded by Captain Donald MacQueen, who was reportedly a spendthrift, though of high character. Under his guidance, the family estate was lost to the family because of financial difficulties. At that time the land holdings were approximately 7,000 acres. The estate went to a man named Smith, who sold it in 1844 to an Englishman named Malkin.

When Cpt. Donald MacQueen lost the lands in 1811, the tenants of the estate were disposed, and most of the MacQueens emigrated to the United States and Canada. Cpt. MacQueen died in 1813. The chieftainship then went to his son, also named Donald, Captain of the second Madras Cavalry. He was succeeded by his brother, John Fraser MacQueen. John died in 1881, and his brother, Lachlan MacQueen, a distinguished officer in the East India Company, became chief. He died in 1896, and was succeeded by his only son, Donald MacQueen, of New Zealand.

Earliest Recorded McQueens in America

The first recorded McQueen arrived in America February 24, 1652 when the ship John & Sarah docked in Boston. One McQueen (unknown first name) was listed among the prisoners deported to America after English forces won over the Scots in the battle of Worcester.

The next record of McQueens in America is that of Duncan, Hugh, Robert, and Janet McQueen. They were deported from Scotland in 1685 as prisoners for opposing The Church of England's elimination of Presbyterianism. John McQueen came voluntarily. Records indicate that Duncan and Hugh "were with Argyle". Duncan, Hugh and Janet were put on the ship at Edinburgh and John and Robert at Leith. Each of the men (except John) had their left ear cut off and Janet was branded on the left hand. These physical deformities were given to prevent them returning to Scotland upon threat of death.

The shipload of prisoners' transportation was purchased by the ship owner, who intended to sell the prisoners into bondage once they arrived in America. However, many of the prisoners as well as the ship's captain and the ship's owner and his family died of fever on the crossing. Therefore, when the prisoners arrived in America they could not be sold, and were released. Many settled in the Woodridge, New Jersey area, then scattered through New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, including the area where Daniel Boone and his family lived. It is not known exactly where these McQueens settled, but it is entirely possible that if they settled in the area where Daniel Boone lived, their descendants may have traveled with him (or at a concurrent time) to the Yadkin River area prior to 1750, and thus could be the ancestors of the present-day Johnson County, Tennessee, McQueens.

On August 20, 1716, the ship Friendship of Belfast transported rebels to Maryland, including Dugail McQueen, who was purchased by William Holland, Esq.; Hector McQueen, who was purchased by Aaron Rawlings; Alexander McQueen, and David McQueen. Any of these men would also have been geographically able to be the ancestors of the Johnson County, Tennessee, McQueens.

Research done by Jack McQueen of Elizabethton, Tennessee, states "John, Alexander, and David McQueen, brothers and Jacobite soldiers, were born in Scotland in the late 1600's. They were captured after the siege of Preston, Lancashire, and transported from Liverpool to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1716, on the Wakefield, Master Thomas Beck. Alexander and David left the ship at Charleston, South Carolina; John left the ship at Baltimore, Maryland. He was bonded to an individual there, probably to pay for his passage. John McQueen settled near what is now Hershey, Pennsylvania, not far from Conawago Creek (this is the area where Daniel Boone's family lived, and probably where some of the above-named McQueens also had settled). He and his sons were on the tax roll there in the 1750s. Since John Sr. had arrived in this country in 1716, his sons, John, James and Joseph probably had children and maybe even grandchildren. I found no records of Samuel McQueen or any of John, Jr., James or Joseph McQueen's children in Pennsylvania. About 1760, John Sr., John, James, James and Joseph migrated to the area near what is now Statesville, North Carolina." See the section entitled "The McQueen Family of Boone, North Carolina, and Johnson County, Tennessee" for more information.

The ship William of New York brought in steerage James McQueen, age 22, a laborer whose former residence was Monzievaird, farm Dalvreck, about 1½ miles east of Comrie, to New York on 12/15/1773.

William McQueen, age 25, a farmer of Glenluce, arrived in New York on the ship Gale of Whitehaven on May 16, 1774.

This listing of early arrivals certainly is not complete, but those listed seem most likely to be ancestors of the ranches followed in this book. After 1800, the arrival of McQueens on ships from England, Ireland and Scotland was more frequent, but still rare.

Please contact the author Sheila McQueen Ellinson regarding copyright of this page
Page last updated on 12 September, 2008