Clan Maelanfaid DNA

Please scroll down for more on the Maelanfaid.

The ancient Scottish names Macaloney/McAloney/McAlonie (a.k.a. MacGillonie), McMartin/MacMartin, and McPhail/MacPhail were all related kindred and together with the McSorley's/ MacSorley's of Glen Nevis formed the Clan Maelanfaid of Lochaber. Many of them changed their name to Cameron. MacNab's with no traditional associations to Clan Maelanfaid / Clan Cameron, have been shown in Alex Williamson's Big Tree to be closely related to Clan Maelanfaid and Clan Cameron leading kindreds. How individuals with these names, like yourself, now living in Scotland, Canada, USA, Australia, England, N. Zealand and S. Africa are related to other Maelanfaid and other Scottish Highland kindred’s, and whether they were ethnically Gaels, Picts, Viking’s or Briton’s will be researched as we add more DNA tests from contributors like yourself who take the FamilyTree DNA test registered under this Clan Maelanfaid program.

Clan Maelanfaid origins:  In  early medieval Scotland the first Maelanfaid on record, from the Iona Chronicle (now the Annals of Ulster), was Oengus mac Maelanfaid (Angus Macaloney) who died on the island of Skye in 710 AD. Being mentioned in the Iona Chronicle [1], this Angus son of Maelanfaid was likely the Prince (i.e. Chief) of a prominent, noteworthy kindred. From the Gaelic genealogical manuscript of 1467 AD [2], one of the 22 prominent West coast clans was the Clann Maelanfaig. This clan, who had a prominent ancestor, Angus Mór (big Angus), gave rise to later generations of McPhail’s, McMartins, and Macaloney’s (a.k.a MacGillonies). The MacSorley's appear to have joined the Clan Maelanfaid after being granted a davoch of land in Glen Nevis by the Lord of the Isles in 1456 AD [8][9]. Before this they were armingers to the Lord of the Isles and came to Lochaber as Thane of Lochaber (Gaelic: Toscheachdeora) planted there by the Lord of the Isles after the battle of Inverlochy where the Clan Maelanfaid supported the King of Scotland against the Lord of the Isles. Later they would be absorbed in to Clan Maelanfaid and therefore Clan Cameron, becoming the Camerons of Glen Nevis. The Maelanfaid kindred were domiciled in Lochaber for some 900 years [3] but by the late 1400’s became known as Clan Cameron. Clan histories suggest this occurred, either, via intermarriage of a Maelanfaid heiress to a Norman de Cambron from the Province of Fife, or as the Macaloney kindred gave rise to a bent-nosed descendant Camshron named for his notable facial attribute [4][5][6][7]. In the 13th century the MacBean's / MacBain's (also thought to be Maelanfaid) and MacPherson’s of Lochaber migrated to Badenoch, Inverness & Nairn. Later, some McPhail’s also appear to have migrated to Badenoch, Inverness & Nairn. Later again, during the 17th & 18th century some Macaloney’s planted themselves in Co. Antrim, N. Ireland, where they appear to have ‘Irished’ their name to MacAlonan / McAlonen / McLonan / Maloney. However, when they emigrated from Co. Antrim to Canada, USA and Scotland in the 19th Century many of them are recorded changing their name back to Macaloney / McAloney / McAlonie. In summary, the Scottish Mael-anfaid arose as a kindred in the 8th century whereas other great Scottish kindred such as MacDonald, Campbell, Stewart, Robertson and Murray did not arise until the 12th-14th centuries.

    The Maelanfaid (Mhaol-onfhaidh) originally lived along the north shore of Loch Eil, below the summit of Meall Onfhaidh and on a crannog in Loch Eil near Corpach. They spread up to Glen Loy and 

   Glen Mallie on either side of Meall Onfhaidh, and along Loch Arkaig to Glen Pean. They also occupied the Great Glen (Glen Mor) from Banavie through to Strone. The McMartin-Maelanfaid expanded

   to the south shore of Loch Lochy when the MacPherson's moved to Badenoch during the 14th century. The MacSorley's settled in Glen Nevis somewhat later, during the early-mid 15th century.           MacBean's / MacBain's lived on Loch Eil side and possibly also Morven and Mamore, but after killing the Comyn's steward of Inverlochy Castle during the Scottish wars of Independence, were obliged to relocate at the beginning of 12th century to Connage, Inverness-shire and from there settled in Strathnairn (Faille), Kinchyle, Dores, and Tomatin Inverness-shire.

Macaloney, McAloney or Mcalonie (also spelled MacGillonie / McGilony) is an 'Englished' pronunciation of Mac-Maelanfaid  (written in modern Gaelic as MacMhaol-onfhaidh). MacMartin's and MacPhail's were also Maelanfaid who formed co-lateral, co-located families originating from their progenitor who in the case of MacMartin was likely a devotee of St. Martin.


Lochaber MacMartin’s are not to be confused with Irish Martin’s, Gilmartin’s and Kilmartin’s who are respectfully asked not submit their DNA to this program but to the O’Neill-related programs, instead. Our MacMartin's were based in Letterfinlay and were so prominent that Donald dubh Cameron, the progenitor of the Clan Cameron (thought to be a Macaloney by origin if the Norman origin becomes disproven), married an heiress of the MacMartin's with many of the MacMartin's consequently changing their name to Cameron. Therefore, we are very fortunate to have a MacMartin as a member of our y-DNA project. The MacMartin's were so loyal to the Cameron's that a MacMartin foster-brother to the famous Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel sacrificed himself at the battle of Achdalieu 1654 AD by taking a red-coats bullet aimed for Ewan his young chief. Our MacMartin members and other members y-DNA will be crucial for discerning many of these questions of inter-relationship between Macaloney's, MacMartin's, MacPhail's, MacSorley's, MacBean's and Cameron's.


There were also MacMartin's in Loch Awe side & Kilmartin Parish who were reportedly extirpated by the Campbells of Craignish. If  you are a MacMartin with roots in southern Argyle / nether Lorne in and around Kilmartin, Loch Awe, Oban, Lochgilphead or Inveraray then we'd be particularly keen for you to join our project!


MacBean's/McBean's, MacBain's/McBain's, MacVean's/McVean's, and McVain's/MacVain's are believed originally to be of ancient Cameron (i.e. Clan Maelanfaid or Macaloney's) stock according to the History of the Clan Cameron [10]. Lachlan Shaw in his ‘The History of the Province of Moray’[11] (p179) confirms that the MacBeans came from Lochaber and were descended from the MacGillonies: “Tradition beareth, that Bean-mor, son of Maolmuir Macgilonie, of the ancient clan Chattan, came to the country, with Lady Macintosh, heiress of the clan Chattan, soon after the year 1291, and was the ancestor and Chief of the Macbeans, now represented by the son of Giliose Macbean, who was killed in the battle of Culloden, anno 1746.”  Further to this, the Invereshie MS [12], states: “The Macbeans, who lived about Inverness, had the tradition that they were originally Camerons or Macgilonys.” If  this y-DNA research confirms that the MacBean's/MacBain's were indeed part of Clan Maelanfaid then one of the first men to walk on the moon was a fellow clansman, Alan Bean, and the Clan Bean will be able to link beyond their present 13th century roots to one of the oldest early medieval Gaelic genealogies stretching back to the early 700's in Scotland and perhaps even to 6th century Saints and 4th century Kings in Ireland. Please note, the Bain's of Tulloch are not of the same stock as MacBain's/MacBean's/MacVean's/MacVain's and therefore not associated with Clan Maelanfaid.


Lochaber , Benderloch and Appin or Argyle and Lorne MacPhail's/McPhail's/McPhaill's and County Antrim MacFail's/MacFall'/ MacFaul's are believed originally to be of ancient Cameron (i.e. Clan Maelanfaid or Macaloney's) stock according to the History of the Clan Cameron [10]., which states: 'the MacPhails are the same stock as the MacBeans and both are Macgillonies in origin'. County Donegal and Northern County Connaught MacFail's, MacFall's, MacFaul's are not likely part of Clan Maelanfaid and anyone from these origins is respectfully asked not to submit their y-DNA to this project but look for a O'Maolfabhail  project. MacPhail, etc is Gaelic for 'son of the wolf or hound'. Some of the name may come from Clan MacKay or Clan Mackintosh [13], although for MacKay's the 'son of Paul' is generally rendered Polson. Various sources conclude that the MacPhail's of Maelanfaid/Cameron affiliation and MacPhail's of Clan Chattan/Mackintosh affiliation are of common stock. The MacPhail's/McPhail's/McPhaill's/MacFail's/MacFall's/MacFaul's appear to have lived on Loch Eil-side at Fassifern and were an influential family [10] and perhaps also anciently in Morven. The Clan Cameron account is consistent with the Clan MacPhail web site history[14], allowing for the common misunderstanding that the Clan Maelanfaid pre-date Clan Chattan in Lochaber and Lorne which states after dealing with the Polsons of Clan MacKay: "The second group are those of Inverairnie, near Inverness, which came across from Lochaber in the West from the old Clan Chattan lands in 1291. When the main groups of Clan Chattan moved East with the Mackintoshes, leaving some Macphail's back in Lochaber and the West, those left behind came under the protection of the Cameron's who also at one time were part of the Clan Chattan. Over the next few hundred years these two groups became completely separated. The next group is also of the same blood as the last two. This group originally lived in Benderloch and the southern parts of Lochaber and were also a part of the old Clan Chattan. But after an argument with their neighbours the Maclean's moved inland to Argyle and Glenlyon and took the protection of its landlords the Campbell's. These were the four main groups of Macphail's, three of which seem to be of the same blood." Other Clan Chattan sources show that the MacPhail's associated with Clan Chattan did not arrive in the Strathnairn, Invernesshire (Clan Chattan country) until around 1537 AD. Yet a Clan Chattan source [15] says MacPhail's were resident at the Priory of Adrdchattan in Benderloch, Lorne just South of Lochaber shortly after its foundation by Duncan MacDougal of Lorne in 1230 AD. This reference goes on to say: "There are references to Macphails being hereditary physicians to the Macdougalls around this time, and certainly the name was common in the area."  Another Clan Chattan magazine article, The Clan Phail by Jack Geddie [16] shows that the MacPhail’s were very numerous through-out Lochaber and Lorne, and all were very closely associated with Cameron of Lochiel to the extent that they were cited for raiding with Ewen Cameron of Locheil on 18th March 1547 AD. The original source is cited as the Register of the Privy Council  and carries an impressive list of MacPhail’s across a wide geographic area all following Lochiel: “Alexander MacPhail in Easter Skelbo, Donald MacPhail in Lochaill, Dougall MacPhail, Douall McCoull MacPhail, Ewen McAne MacPhail, John MacPhail, John MacPhail in Mammore, John Crom McAne MacPhail, John Dow MacPhail, John McInnes MacPhail, John Roy MacPhail in Lochnell, Lauchlan MacAne MacPhail, Malcolm MacPhail, William McRore MacPhail and others.”  Of the 4 locations mentioned, 2 are in Lochaber (Lochaill & Mamore), 1 is 30 km immediately south of Lochaber in Lorne 7 km from Benderloch (Lochnell, which other research may suggest might have been an earlier Duthchas of the Clan Maelanfaid), and 1 (Easter Skelbo)  is apparently 100 km over the other side of the country which is implausible and may represent a spelling error or some lost Argyle name?


Lochaber MacSorley's were one of the major septs belonging to the Clan Maelanfaid, but are not to be confused with Cowal MacSorley's associated with Clan Lamont nor the Irish MacSorley's related to Clan Donald. The MacDonald's / MacDougal's / MacRuaries are also sometimes known by the name MacSorley since they are descended from Somerled, King of the Isles. Irish and Cowal MacSorley's are respectfully asked not to submit their DNA to this program but to the Clan Donald and Clan Lamont programs, instead. The name Sorley comes the Norse name Somerled which means 'summer Viking'. For Lochaber MacSorley's please read more on your roots above at the top of this page and in the map legend, and below under Viking Maelanfaid. Your participation in this y-DNA program is heartily encouraged and could well assist with significant breakthroughs, particularly if you have a known association with Fort William or Lochaber, Scotland. Please click on the 'Click Here' button at the top-right of this page to join our project.


How today’s McAlonan’s / McAlonen’s / McLonan’s living in N. Ireland, USA, England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are related to the Macaloney / McAloney and other Ulster-Irish and Highland-Scottish kindred's will be researched. Please see the Ulster Maelanfaid tab for much more detail.


Viking Maelanfaid: Within the Clan Maelanfaid and Clan Cameron there are some descendants who carry Viking y-DNA. Thus, they are descended from those Norwegian vikings who settled as far wide as Normandy, France (whence the Normans who conquered England in 1066 AD), Orkney / Shetland, the Hebrides of Scotland, Galloway (Scotland), Isle of Man, Ireland (where they founded Dublin, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford), Iceland, Greenland, and even were the first European's to discover North America over 400 years before Christopher Columbus. At first glance their y-DNA showing up among the Clan Maelanfaid is unexpected given the deep Gaelic roots of Clan Maelanfaid and therefore Clan Cameron. However, many other prominent Gaelic West coast (Hebrides & Galloway) and Northern Scottish clans including MacDougal, MacDonald, MacRuary, MacLeod, MacNeil, Nicolson, Morrison & Gunn carry Viking y-DNA and form a mixed Gaelic-Norse (Norwegian)  culture known as the Gallgael's (Gaelic: Gal-Gaidheal, meaning "strange or foreign Gaels"). The Viking y-DNA may have entered Clan Maelanfaid and adopted our ancient, proud name sometime between the 9th and 14th centuries in a number of ways. Non-paternal events such as adoption or extra-marital births are always a possibility but significant infusions of Viking y-DNA would also have come from MacSorley's adopting the Clan Maelanfaid (Macaloney) and Cameron name. Other sources may have come from strategic marriages which are known to have occurred between the Maelanfaid / Cameron's and neighbouring Gallgael clans including the MacDonald's of Keppoch and MacDonald's of Clanranald. When these marriages entailed the daughter of a local Chief marrying a Maelanfaid / Cameron man and moving to Lochaber, they would come with a retinue of their own clansmen who would also relocate to Lochaber. After some time and further intermarriage, these incomers would sometimes adopt the name of their newly adopted clan. The fact that several of our member s with the surname Macaloney carry Viking y-DNA suggests they adopted the Macaloney name prior to the transition from Clan Maelanfaid to Clan Cameron, late in the 15th century. These alternative origins, and the timing of the introduction of Viking  y-DNA to our clan, will be elucidated with your help by taking the Family Tree DNA test listed under this Clan Maelanfaid program.


Ancient Irish Roots going back to 6th century Saints and Kings: As we know from the story of Dal Riata (the trans-Irish sea kingdom encompassing modern Co. Antrim, Ireland and Argyll in Scotland, the origins of many western Scottish clans, Highland Christianity and Gaelic language all originate in Ireland. Indeed Ireland was originally called Scotia Major and Scotland was called Scotia Minor. Within this context, there is some historical basis for making a connection between the Scottish Clann Maelanfaid and the Irish Leinster Maelanfaid kindred. Whether the Irish  Maelanfaid and the Clann Maelanfaid of Lochaber, Scotland were ancient kindred that evolved from a common cultural, co-extensive Gàidhealtachd  or are actually independent of each other, will be elucidated with your help by taking the FamilyTree DNA test listed under this Clan Maelanfaid program. Please see the Irish Maelanfaid tab for much more detail.


[1] Annals of Ulster. Otherwise Annals of Senat; A Chronical of Irish Affairs from A.D. 431 to A.D. 1540 Edited with a Translation and Notes. 1887. William M. Hennessey. Volume I. Pub: Royal Irish Academy.

[2]  Celtic Scotland – A History of Ancient Alban. Volume III, Land and People. 1890. William F. Skene. Pub: David Douglas, Edinburgh.

[3] Notes on Everything: Kilmallie Parish Minister's Diary of c. 1864. 1987. Rev. Dr. Archibald Clerk. Pub: Kilmallie Parish Church, Fort William, Scotland.

[4] History of the Camerons with Genealogies of the Principal Families of the Name. 1884. Alexander Mackenzie. Reprinted 2005 by Stewart Publishing and Printing, Markham, ON., Canada.

[5] The Highland Clans of Scotland. 1967 and 1982 (revised edition). Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk. Pp. 50-52. Pub. Barrie & Jenkins.

[6] The Camerons: A History of Clan Cameron. 1971. John Stewart of Ardvorlich. Pub: The Clan Cameron Association.

[7] Homelands of the Clans. 1980. Gerald Warner. Pub: Collins, Glasgow.

[8] The Surnames of Scotland: Their origin, meaning and history. 1946. Professor George F. Black. Pub: Birlinn Ltd., Edinburgh.See entry for MacSorley.

[9] Lectures on Scotch Legal Antiquities. 1872. Cosmo Innes. Pub: Edmonston & Douglas, Edinburgh.

[10] The History of the Clan Cameron. 1978. John Stewart of Ardvorlich. Pub: Clan Cameron Society.

[11] The History of the Province of Moray: Brought down to the year 1826. 1827. Rev. Lachlan Shaw. Pub: J. Grant.

[12] The Invereshie Book: A Clan Treasure. 1949. Tom Macpherson M.P.,Lord Macpherson of Drumochter. Pub: Shelagh Macpherson-Noble on-line in 2009.

[13] The Book of Scots-Irish Family Names. 1988. Robert Bell. Pub: The Blackstaff Press Limited, Belfast.

[14] Clan Phail Society International: http://www.clanphail.org/Macphail%20Origins.htm downloaded 21Feb16.

[15] Some MacPhails and Ardchattan. 2008. Br. Paschal Downs. Journal of the Clan Chattan Association. Vol XII., No. 2.

[16] The Clan Phail. 1993. Jack Geddie. Journal of the Clan Chattan Association.