McBee Family History
Including Family Lore

Motto Translation: Good fortune is allied to bravery

The western coast of Scotland and the desolate
Hebrides Islands are the ancestral home of the
McBee Family. The McBee name is derived from
the Macbeth or Bethune or Beaton names. The
Macbeth and Bethune families, hereditary
physicians to the Chiefs of MacDonald, practiced
medicine on the Isles during the Middle Ages and
Beaton. The Macbeths were concentrated in Islay
and Mull whereas the Beatons concentrated in
The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages
was haphazard. Records from that era show an
enormous number of spelling variations even in
names referring to the same person. Over the
years, the McBee name has appeared as McBeth,
Beaton, Beeton, Macbeth, McBeaton, McBee, and
many more variations.
First found in the isle of Islay, where they held a
family seat, from ancient times, long before the Norman Conquest in 1066 Macbeth.
Mac Bethad mac Findlaich (1005 - 1057), known in England as Macbeth was the last
Celtic King of Scotland. He ruled from 1040 to 1057 when he died in battle against
future King Malcolm of the Canmore Dynasty. Macbeth is best known through the
Shakespearean drama bearing his name.
As the American War of Independence broke out, those Scots remaining loyal to the
crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these
hardy Dalriadan - Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th
Century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by Highland games and clan
societies in North America. The McBees were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers
as shown immigration lists.  
                                                                           Family Lore
There is no consensus in our family on the derivation of the McBee name. Two camps - Macbeth and McBean.
My Uncle J O told me he met a Scot, Angus Ferguson, at the Dallas Masonic Lodge who knew McBees in
Scotland and told J O where they lived. He did not write it down. Years later, Uncle Jim and Aunt Charlotte led
tours of Scotlandm wearing the McBean tartan. Brother Tom, Cousin John and his wife, Nancy, and I were
present at a Robert Burns Dinner sponsored by the Fayetteville, North Carolina Scottish Society. Jim and
Charlotte were elected Laird and Lady of the Valley. All of this wearing the McBean tartan which Jim
maintained was the McBee source. Personally, I believe J O's version. It would be simple to verify. Just go to
Scotland, get a phone book, call McBees, and ask them "Where did you come from?". One big problem. No
one can find McBees in the phone book. As a result, we show up at Scottish gatherings in the Macbeth and
McBean tartans.
I was told by older family members that the original American McBees were two brothers who came to South
Carolina from Ireland (Ulster?). One of the McBee ancestors (Obadiah) indentured himself for money to give
his mother a proper funeral. James C McBee's father was a Confederate soldier in the Army of Tennessee. I
heard a story of a sister hiding family money in a doll to keep it away from Yankee bummers. James C was
the son of a greengrocer who bought food to a girl's school that Elizabeth P attended. Somehow, she and
James C met, fell in love, and eloped. They eventually emigrated to Texas.