The surname McGlamery is probably of Scots-Irish (also known as Ulster Scot) origin. It has been found as a surname in North America since before the American Revolution. Various forms of the name are found in records in both the U.S. and Northern Ireland, although McGlamery appears to be the original form in Ulster. Other present-day forms include McGlamry, McGlammery, and McGlamory.
The origin of the name is a mystery. It is possibly a corruption of McGladery or Montgomery. The closest Scottish septs are probably Lamont, particularly the surname McLemore, and Montgomery.
An article published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (of unknown date, unfortunately; it was clipped by my maternal grandmother, sometime in the 1970s, I believe) states the following:
This is an Irish patronymical name, originally written MagLabrad, and later Anglicized to Mac Lamery, MacClory, and Maglamery. The meaning is “son of the spokesman, or advocate.”
The name is found only in Ulster, the Northern nine counties of Ireland which have been under English control since early in the 17th century, and is very rare there. This accounts for the early appearance of the name in the American Colonies. Around 200,000 “Scotch-Irish” came to the Colonies from this area between 1700 and 1768. Only a very few Irish people came with them; some because they had married Scots and some to escape the religious and political persecutions imposed against the Presbyterians and Catholics.
The 1790 census records lists (sic) Edward and Jesse McGlamery in North Carolina, John McGlamory in South Carolina and John McGlamery and Matthew McGlamory in Virginia.
The accuracy of the above article is unverified. The commentary on few Irish coming with the Ulster Scots seems to imply that McGlamery is a true Irish name and not Scots in origin. This same history has been given for McGladery. McGladery descendants, however, seem to be Roman Catholic generally, whereas the earliest records for the McGlamerys in colonial Maryland indicate they were Protestant.
McGlamerys in Northern Ireland
A search of the records available online at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), lists three different McGlamerys/McGlammerys:
- Andrew McGlamery: listed as a freeholder (property owner or renter of 40-pence or more) and resident of Ballyclose in the County Antrim Deputy’s Book for 30 May 1776. His original registration date is given as 17 January 1754.
- James McGlamery: filed a will in Ahoghill, County Antrim, in 1758.
- John McGlammery: listed as a freeholder and resident of Tyrearly in County Armagh in 1818.
Consequently, one can infer that by the mid-1700s, the name form had stabilized to McGlamery or McGlammery in Ireland, whatever its origins.
McGlamerys in North America
McGlamery descendants in North America are not all descended from a single immigrant progenitor. Rather, they are descended from one of several waves of immigrants.
McGlamerys in Colonial Maryland
Interestingly, the earliest documented appearances of the name McGlamery or its variants are in the State of Maryland and not Northern Ireland. Edward McGlamery arrived in Maryland in 1688 or before, which is attested to by his registration of a cattle mark in Somerset County. The timing of Edward’s appearance is coincident with the beginning of the Glorious Revolution in Great Britain and might be more than coincidental. Edward’s descendants were Protestant, so he was likely Protestant, and the reign of James II might well have been a driver of his emigration from Ireland.
McGlamerys in Colonial South Carolina
William McGlamery and his family departed Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland about 10 October 1767 on the Brig Lord Dungannon. They arrived in Charles Town (now Charleston), South Carolina, in February of 1768. They settled in the old Ninety-six District, in what is now Newberry County, South Carolina.
McGlamerys in North Carolina
Brothers George and Jesse McGlamery first appear in Rutherford County, North Carolina, in 1785 with registration by George’s sister, Sarah, of 100 acres along No Business Creek (now in Cleveland County) in George’s name. Subsequent registrations by George and Jesse were made in Rutherford County afterward. As noted above, both are listed in the 1790 census for Rutherford County.