What is the origin of the last name Mckinley?

The last name McKinley originates from the Gaelic personal name Mac Fhionnghaill, meaning "son of fair-stranger." The name "fair-stranger" refers to someone with pale or fair hair who was a stranger or foreigner to the Gaelic-speaking people of Scotland and Ireland. Over time, the name Mac Fhionnghaill transformed into McKinley, which is now a common surname among Irish and Scottish descendants worldwide.

Countries of origin for the last name Mckinley

The last name McKinley has its origins in Scotland and Ireland. It is derived from the Gaelic name Mac Fhionnlaigh, which translates to “son of Finlay.” The name Finlay itself is believed to come from the Old Norse name Fionnlagh, meaning “white warrior.”

The earliest recorded instance of the McKinley surname is found in Scotland in the 12th century. The Clan Mac Fhionnlaigh, later anglicized to Mac Kinley, was prominent in the region of Galloway. Over time, the surname underwent various spelling variations including Mckinlay, Mckinly, and Mckinlea.

Migration of individuals with the surname McKinley to the United States began in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many Scots-Irish immigrants carried the name with them, particularly settling in the Appalachian region and states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky. The surname gained further prominence in the United States due to the presidency of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.

Notable individuals with the last name McKinley include Ray McKinley, an American jazz drummer and bandleader, and William Denison McKinley, an American inventor known for his work in the automotive industry.

The McKinley surname has seen a decline in popularity over the years. However, it still maintains a presence within certain communities and is a testament to the ancestral ties that connect individuals to their Scottish and Irish roots.

Interesting facts about the last name Mckinley

  • The surname McKinley is of Scottish origin.
  • It is derived from the Gaelic name Mac Fhionnlaigh, which means “son of Finley” or “fair hero”.
  • The name McKinley is closely associated with the Clan MacKinlay, which is part of the larger Clan Donald.
  • The spelling of the surname has gone through various changes over the centuries, including variations like MacKinlay, MacKinley, McKynlay, McKynley, and others.
  • The name McKinley is also significant for its association with the 25th President of the United States, William McKinley, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.
  • William McKinley’s administration led the nation through the Spanish-American War and was characterized by a period of economic prosperity.
  • Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, was named in honor of President William McKinley.
  • The surname McKinley is relatively rare, ranking as the 5,106th most common surname in the United States.
  • While McKinley is most commonly found in the United States, it can also be found in other English-speaking countries with Scottish heritage, such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Name Rank


There are around 24000 people with the last name Mckinley in the US

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