The name McAndrew appears first in the records around 1500 and was used not as a surname but simply to indicate that the person's father was called Andrew. This patronymic usage persisted probably right through the sixteenth century in the Highland parts of Scotland, and only when persons known by that sobriquet settled in English speaking places did it become a surname as we know it today. This patronymic usage cannot always be recognised if it appears simply as John McAndrew for instance, but if it takes the form Ian McAndrew vig, which translates as John son of little Andrew we know that it is a patronymic and not a surname. In other words the use of an adjective brands it as a patronymic. In the case of women, patronymic usage is certain if the name takes the form Mhari nin Andrew which has the Gaelic word nighean meaning girl, or daughter. Often it is found combined with mac as Nc (nighean mhic) which is strictly daughter of son, but may apparently simply represent daughter. By the nature of the records it is impossible to tell if 'Mary NcAndrew' is the daughter of Andrew or the daughter of a son of Andrew! At all events it is a patronymic and not a surname. The name became a hereditary surname at different times and in different places, persisting longest as a patronymic in Easter Ross where one family had a member, James Ross McAndrew, who died in 1911, when his parents were named as Andrew Ross and Margaret Fraser. However, most surnames became fixed when their bearers came to lowland areas or the district became English-speaking.
THE SPELLING OF THE NAME
The commonest modern spelling is 'McAndrew' with 'MacAndrew' and 'Macandrew' less frequently found. However the name has very many variations, and in some places appears as an attempted phonetic rendering of the Gaelic pronunciation, e.g. 'machk antra' in the district of Aberdeenshire. It will therefore be found as Mckandrew, Mchandrew, McCandrew or Makandroe! Another form found in the eighteenth century is McAndrow which may be just an alternative version of the common modern form, since ‘ow’ especially at the end of words, was usually pronounced like ‘oo.’ The name seems to have originated at the edge of the Highland line along which the Gaelic and English languages meet, when the usual Scots form of the name Andrew was written Andro and often pronounced Andra. Hence the common early form McAndro. But more usually in the Highlands the preferred Christian name was not Andro or Aindreas, but Gill'aindreis meaning 'servant or follower of St Andrew.' The patronymic and surname of this is McGillanders (Mac Ghill'aindreis - pronounced like Macilandrish).
As will be apparent from the above, the name rose in many parts of the Highlands from Caithness on the north down the east coast to Inverness and then in a south-easterly direction to the Braemar district of Aberdeenshire. From there south along the edge of the mountains to central Perthshire, and south-westerly through Stirlingshire to Dumbartonshire, around Loch Lomond. This precludes any link with a single clan, but shows different families in the territories of many different clans. Probably the Caithness families were of the Clan Sinclair, certainly the Easter Ross families were Rosses, while those on the Black Isle were in MacKenzie territory. To the West of Inverness town were Frasers and to the East MacIntoshes, but neither of these seem to have extant descendants in the male line, at least not with the surname McAndrew. The Elgin families could be Sutherlands, Lindsays, Inneses, or Dunbars, since all these families or clans meet at Elgin, and the Banffshire families may have been of Clan Grant. There is no doubt that the Aberdeenshire group were of Clan Farquharson (two McAndrew men of 'Farquharson's Regiment' in the 1745 rebellion died as prisoners after Culloden). In Perthshire some Stewarts used the patronymic McAndrew, other McAndrews seem to have been MacGregors when that name was proscribed, and others were certainly retainers of Campbell of Glenlyon. The list might be concluded with the three clans of Buchanan, Graham of Menteith, and MacFarlane, since McAndrews lived on the lands of all three, and the name was undoubtedly used as a patronymic by Buchanans. Much is made of a link with the Mackintoshes of Clan Chattan. One of the earliest instances of the name lived in Connage of Petty (on the site of the modern Inverness airport) which is on Mackintosh Land, but the account often given is a quotation from Macfarlane's 'Genealogical Collections,' Vol.1, p.192 where the passage:-
"Hoc tempare etiam Rodericus aliter Reven mak Milmor vik Isak a quo Clanreven et Donaldus Makgilleandris a quo Clanleandrish nominati sunt a Mudiarto cum Mora Macdonald supra memorata Domina Makintosh venerunt....."
is translated as:-
"At this time also, Roderic, otherwise Reven mac Milmor vic Isak, from whom the Clan Reven, and Donald Macgilleandrish, from whom the Clan Andrish are named, came from Moidart, with Mora Macdonald, the afore-mentioned wife of Mackintosh....."
This of course does not refer to Clan Andrish but to Clan Gillandrish (Latin Clanleandrish is an approximation to Gaelic Clann Ghille-aindreis), but the inaccurate translation has been continued from book to book without checking the original! Some books also list as Septs of Clan Macfarlane the name MacAindra. The original of this is in a book by Buchanan of Auchmar published in 1723, on the history of the Buchanans and some other Highland clans. In it he lists persons of the name McAindra as regarding themselves members of Clan Macfarlane. This appears to be correct since I have notes of individual McAndrews in Macfarlane country in the sixteenth century.
During the nineteenth century there was considerable immigration from Ireland into (mainly south-west) Scotland. The McAndrew immigrants came especially from Donegal and Mayo according to available sources, but not all can be distinguished from Scottish bearers of the name. Religion is one criterion, the Irish families being predominately Roman Catholic while Scottish families of that faith were centred mainly in Aberdeenshire until about 1750. The forenames are often different, with Anthony, Brian, Edward, and Henry being usually of Irish provenance. So too the girl's name Bridget is in the Irish mould, and often Mary Ann. However, many names are common in all families - John, James,William, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Mary are good examples.
I have a note of one family of three generations who give their surname as 'Macandrew' or 'Andrews' on marriage, but I have not found them in birth or death records under the name Macandrew. Other changes I have noted are from McKendrick to McAndrew and from Hendry through McHendry to McAndrew , while one Lithuanian immigrant changed from Andruservice to McAndrew.
When I started my research into families called McAndrew, I was under the belief that we were all related, and it came as a surprise to find that nearly all were probably unrelated. It soon became obvious that most could not possibly be related in the male line since the name arose in widely separated places at different times. Possibly just the same thing happened with regard to the name Anderson; or Robertson or even Donaldson? or any of the many surnames of patronymic origin. It is also worth noting that my researches to date have witnessed no clear transformation of the name 'McAndrew' to that of 'Anderson' or vice versa, and I have come to the conclusion that the names are as separate as McAndrew and McDonald (or Anderson or Donaldson). I have however, read in Black's "Surnames of Scotland" that some McGillanders in Islay Anglicised their name to Anderson.