McAllister – Surname Saturday

McAllister Name Origin

McAllister is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name, Mac Alasdair, meaning “son of Alasdair.” Alasdair is the Gaelic form of Alexander. There are dozens of forms for this surname. My wife’s family line has records both under McAllister and McAlister (one “l”).

Geographical

Worldwide there are approximately 52,878 people who bear the McAllister surname. The vast majority, over 38,000, in the United States, with England and Canada being distant second and third (about 6,000 and 5,000 respectively). In terms of frequency, Northern Ireland has the greatest proportion of the McAllister surname, where one in 526 people have the surname. Scotland is the second most frequent area for people surnamed McAllister.

 

My Wife’s Direct McAllister Ancestors

Historical

1920

My wife’s great-grandmother, Hannah (McAllister) Darling died in 1913.

                     Peter McAllister’s Passport Photo

Her father, Peter McAllister, was estranged from his wife and was rooming at 2237 Salisbury Street in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1920, Pennsylvania had 146 McAllister families (about 6% of the McAllister families in the US). Peter, his wife Margaret, his son John, his son Edward, and his son Joseph constituted 5 of those 146 McAllister families.

Peter was my wife’s immigrant McAllister Ancestor. Peter had three sons, Frank, Edward, and John, all of whom immigrated to the United States in 1886-1887. A fourth son, Joseph was born in New York in 1889. Frank died young and I have only found daughters descended from John. Edward and Joseph both had sons that would have carried on the McAllister surname (and their Y-DNA).

1881

In 1881, Peter, and his wife Margaret, lived at 5 High Church Street in Workington, England, in 1881. He worked as an Engineman and the couple had two children at census time. According to Forebears, in 1881, there were 900 incidences of the McAllister surname in England and another 2,649 in Scotland.

Oral History

Family oral history indicated that the McAllister family was Scots. Although I have not found any ancestors (yet) that lived in Scotland, the family did live in Workington, Cockermouth, and Carlisle, all in the north of England. Workington is only about 20 miles from Scotland across the Solway Firth (part of the Irish Sea) and about a 42 miles drive to Gretna Green, Scotland. Cockermouth and Carlisle are even closer to Scotland.

Family oral history also talked of a “Black Peter McAllister” who was a blockade runner during the US Civil War. Apparently called “Black Peter” because of being bad.  Anyway, second great-grandfather Peter McAllister was too young to have been “Black Peter” (aged 10 to 15 during the Civil War).  However, his grandfather was also named “Peter.” Peter, the elder, would have been born in the late 1700s and is a candidate for having been involved in the US Civil War. I need to do more research regarding Peter McAlister, the elder. It would be great to find information regarding the McAllister’s being involved in the US Civil War.

My wife’s known McAllister relatives.

My records have identified 105 direct-line descendants of Peter McAllister (the elder).

Sources:

 

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