Motto: Fide et fortitudine (By fidelity and fortitude)

In England the name Shaw comes from the Old English word ‘sceaga’ from a similar Norse word which originally meant a wood; the English form commonly meaning ‘a dweller in or by the wood’.  There were several forms of this name there, due to dialectical differences, amongst these are: Shaw, Shave, Shay and Shea.  It is these last two forms that gives an Irish connection.  

In Ireland the name has two sources, in North from the Scottish Shaws, while those of the Southern part take their name from the Irish Gaelic ‘seaghdaha’ meaning hawklike or stately.  

In Scotland there are two distinct groups of Shaws, the Highland and the Lowland.  The Lowland Shaws are generally regarded to have taken their name from the place of this name in Renfrewshire, a name probably derived from the same source as the English Shaw.  The first record of this family is as early as 1284, when John de Schau witnessed the registration of the lands of Aldhus to the monks of Paisley.  William de Shaw was one of the Scottish Barons to swear allegiance to Edward I in 1296.  

There were several notable families of the Lowland Shaw, including the Shaws of Hailly and Sornbeg, Sauchie, Bargarran and Mosshead in Ayrshire.  These families have no connection with the Highland Shaw.  

The Highland Shaws were found originally in the Eastern part of Aberdeenshire, where the name may be an anglicised rendering of the Gaelic ‘Mac-Gille-Sheathanaich’.  Others link it to the Gaelic ‘sithech’, a wolf like one.  The first record of this family was in the early 12th century with a Gaelic entry in the ‘Book of Deer’: Duncan MacShaw leader/founder of Clan Morgan, in Buchan.  

Rothiemurchus was the traditional home of this small clan, a sept of the MacIntoshes and part of the confederacy of the Clan Chattan.  Founder of the Shaws was John, son of Angus the sixth Chief of the MacIntoshes and Eva, heiress of the Clan Chattan.  It was a Shaw that led, according to tradition, the 30 members of the Clan Chattan at the battle of North Inch in Perth.  Alexander, the Chief at the time of the 1715 rising, had several sons, and from Iver, the fifth, descend the Shaws of the North Western Isles.  

There was also a family of Shaws long resident on Jura and they were ‘sitheachairs’ to the MacDonalds of Islay.  There are also associations with the Campbells of Argyllshire and the MacDonalds in the Western Isles.