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McAdam's of Waterhead (Watterheid)


The tradition is that the name MackAdam, the original spelling, comes from the circumstance that Adam MacGregor changed his name to Adam MackAdam to hide his identity when his father, George or Gregor MackGregor was arrested in Galloway. Tradition says that George fled to Galloway with his cousin, Gilbert Grierson when the MacGregor Clan was outlawed. This tradition dates to 1445.

Tradition documents that the McAdam's Coat-of-Arms is derived from the fact that a McAdam had saved the King's life when a stag had endangered him. This is also claimed by another branch of the MacGregors and the McNabs. The design of the Arms suggest to historians that this tradition has merit and favors the McAdam claim.

The first document to confirm the existence of the McAdam family is dated in a court case dated 1501. A marriage contract between Donald McAdam, for his son and John Grierson, for his daughter, dated 1517. This is the first McAdam named in any record.

By 1540, we can confirm that there were three McAdam families living along the Aryshire and Galloway border. These McAdam families were educated, but were tenants of the Griersons and Gordons.

In 1569, Andrew McAdam, the son of John McAdam of Waterhead, obtained a "Crown Charter", thus became a Landed Family.

The McAdam family fortunes grew to include extensive land holding. Most of the family remained in the Ayrshire/Galloway area and can be identified through the 1600's. A few family members had moved to Ayr, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, but appear to have remained in contact with the head of the family at Waterhead.

By mid-1600's the McAdam's owned a combined estate the size held by many Clans and it is said to have been 77 thousand acres. They controlled the heads of all the rivers on the major trade routes to England, Ireland, and Edinburgh. A few family members made their way to Ireland as members of the military or as merchants.

Fortunes of the family passed to a younger branch of the family know as the McAdam House of Grimmit and later to the McAdam of Craigengillan.

The heirship and property was eventually willed out of the family just before 1900. By this date there was no head of the family and it's members had disbursed to the four corners of the earth.

By mid-1600's the McAdam's owned a combined estate the size held by many Clans and it is said to have been 77 thousand acres. They controlled the heads of all the rivers on the major trade routes to England, Ireland, and Edinburgh. A few family members made their way to Ireland as members of the military or as merchants.