Surname Name Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
This is a mostly Scottish last name that derived from a nickname from the Gaelic words cam (crooked or bent and beul (mouth), and hence literally translates to the person with the crooked mouth. It is not uncommon for surnames to derive from the physical attribute of peculiarities of the original bearers. However, it is also possible that it does not refer to a physical trait, but instead refers to someone who told lies or made false promises, perhaps a jibe at a political of societal rival.
In Latin documents, it gets the name is spelled de bello camp, meaning “of the fair field”, which sometimes caused the name to be translated to the Anglo-Norman name Beauchamp. It should also be noted that in old New English documents, the name sometimes occurs as a representative of the French name Hamel.
Another source, An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Name, authored by William Arthur in 1857, states this is a Celtic and Gaelix name, come from wry-mouth, a sobriquet for a person whose mouth in inclined at one side. The name can be traced back as early as the beginning of the 400s AD, and was possessed of Lochore, in Argyleshire, Scotland, during the time of Fergus II (King of Dal Riata who died in 501 AD). A one Sir Colin Campbell of Lochore flourished in the end of the 1200s AD and was also called Sir Colin More or Colin the Great, whose descendants were called McCallen in Ireland.
Another source, Mark Anthony Lower, in his book, Patronymica Britanica, says that the claim the surname is Norman in origin is unfounded. He states “It is based upon the presumed existence of
a Norman family called De Campo Bello. Skene says that no such name is found, though the Beauchamps did most certainly so latinize themselves”. The earliest spelling of the name is Cambel or Kambel that was documented in the Ragman Roll of 1296 AD. There were two prominent branches of this family: MacArthur and MacCailinmor. He believes it has a Gaelic origin, as did Willam Arthur. The family was most dense and powerful in the Scottish Highlands, under the royalty and dukes of Argyle, and they were able to muster up to 5,000 militia men to fight the Stuart family. They became dreaded by others clans, leading to the disparaging proverb “Like a Campbell, ever fair and false”.
One source belives the Campbells were originally known as "Clana Duibhne" or "O'Duine", deriving from one Diarmid O'Duine of Lochow. Campbell is the surname of the Dukes of Argyll, dating from 1445 AD, and their coat of arms is blazoned as follows: Quarterly, first and fourth, gyronny of eight gold and black, the Crest being a boar's head couped gold. Another source claims the name was first used by a Strathclyde-Briton family that lived on the English/Scottish borders. The Clan Campbell was known as Siol Diarmaid an Tuirc or, alternatively, the Clan Duibhne, and was ancestor of the Lords of Lochow in 1368 AD.
Another theory is that the name is of Irish origin. MacLysaght, the former Chief Herald of Ireland, argued the MacCathmhaoil (usually anglicised as Campbell) derived their name from the Irish words for ‘battle-chief.’ The MacCathmhaoil were one of the dynasties descended from the Clann O’Neill.
Common spelling variants include Cambel, Cambell, Camble, Cammell, and several others. One source associates the name with the surname Gamble, which is Gamli in Norse, Gamel in Dutch, and Kammell in Germany. The Domesday Book of 1086 AD mentions people bearing the following personal (first) names: Game, Gamel, and Gam.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name ranks 43rd in the United States as of the 2000 Census. McCampbell ranked 17,422. The name is popular throughout the country, but is densest in Vermont, Maine, Tennesse, Virginia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. The name ranks 7th in Scotland, 3rd in Northern Ireland, 19th in Australia, and 28th in New Zealand, 4th in Jamaica, 12th in Canada, 65th in England, and 254th in South Africa.
The 1890 book, Homes of Family Names, by H.B. Guppy contains the following passage in regards to this surname “Most numerous in Argyllshire, and afterwards in Perthshire, but also fairly dispersed in other parts of Scotland” and “One of the most numerous and powerful of the Highland clans, and under the leadership of the noble house of Argyl”. Mark Antony Lower states its prominent in the province of Ulster.
Early Bearers of the Surname
One of the earliest known bearers was Gillespic Cambel who was documented in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland in 1263 AD. A one Duncan Campbell was documented in 1390 AD and he was believed to be the first bearer who introduced the letter “p” into the surname.A charter in 1447 AD lists one Duncan le Cambeli, the first Lord Campbell.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
The name is discussed in the 1895 book “Genealogical History of Irish Families” by John Rooney. The author claims the family descends from the (mythical?) Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of son Heremon. The family was founded by Eogan, from whom the Nothern Hy Nials and son of Nial of the Nine Hopstages, King of Ireland, in 379 AD. It was anciently spelled Cathmhaoil and meant “hero in batte”. The clan possessed lands in the modern day county of Tyrone. Another branch of this family descended from Faha Canan in 194 AD. Who was of the line of Lugadth, son of Ith, uncle of Milesius, King of Spain. The possessions of this clan wrere located in Scotland. In 1185 AD, Gilchreest MacCathmhaoil, head chieftain of Kinel Farry, who was slain by O'Hegny aided by Muintir Keevan. Gilchreest MacCathmhaoil was head chieftain of Clan Aongus, Clan Dubhinreacht, Clan Fogarty, Hy Kennoda, and Clan Colla of Fermanagh, and was chief of the councils of the North of Ireland. The name was eventually Anglicized to Campbell, Cawell, Cowell, and other names. The family was prominent in Tyrone, Monaghan, Louth, and Armagh, and they also possessed the territorial of Kinel Farry. The family also supplied many bishops in the See of Clogher. The family becAme prominent in the United States and other English colonies. Felix Cambell was a Member of Congress from New York City and the President of Long Island Trust Company, and his brother, Patrick Cambell was the Chief of Police in Brooklyn, New York. Timothy J. Cambell was a member of Congress from New York City. The author lastly states, the McAllens of Allens of Innishowe, Donegal are really Campbells.
From 1250 AD on, a branch of this Scottish clan, the MacAilin, lived on Dongel. From the middle of the sixteenth century, there was a second wave of mercenary soldiers from Scotland, the red-shanks, included many Campbells from Argyll. The were called red-shanks because they wore bare legged kilts, mainly in Ulster and Connact during the summer months.
The greatest settlement of Scottish Campbells to Ireland was in the Plantation of Ulster. In 1607, the sudden and significant flight of the earls (O’Neill, O’Donnell, Maguire and their allies), paved the way for the Ulster Plantation. For the remainder of the 1600s,there was continuous Scottish settlement in the east Ulster counties of Antrim and Down.
The famous genealogist Bernard Burke’s book “The Landed Gentry” discusses 26 branches of this family and provides detailed lineage/pedigrees of each: 1) Campbell of Lochnell, 2) Campbell of Barbreck, 3) Campbell of Stonefield, 4) Campbell of Jura, 5) Campbell of Inverneil and Ross, 6) Campbell of Schawfield and Islay, 7) Campbell of Blythswod, 8) Campbell of Dunnon, 9) Campbell of Monzie, 10) Campbell of Ballochyle, 11) Campbell of Treesbank, 12) Campbell of Skerrington, 13) Campbell-Renton of Lamberton, 14) Campbell of Edenwood, 15) Campbell of Colgrain, 16) Campbell of South Hall, Campbell of Stracathro, 17) Campbell of Tullichewan, 18) Campbell of Woodseat, 19) Campbell of Buscot Park, 20) Campbell of Arkinglas, 21) Campbell of Ardchatt Priory, 22) Campbell of Glenlyon, 23) Campbell of Auchmannoch, 24) Campbell of Fairfield, 25) Campbell of Ballimore, and 26) Campbell of Craigie.
The first discussed is Campbell of Lochnell. It begins with a mention of Duncan Campbell, Esq. of Lochnell in county Argull who was a Justice of the Peace and D.L born in 1806 who succeeded his father in 1845. Burke traces the lineage of this branch back to The Campbells of Lochnell, the latest cadets of Argyll, who descend from John, 4th Duke of Argyll.
The second discussed is Cambell of Barbreck. It begins with a mention of Colin Yorke Campbell, Esq. of Barbreck, Argyleshire, J.P. and D.L, born in 1812 who was a Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy. He married Elizabeth, daughter of James Hyde of the Isle of Wight, and had three issue with her: Donald Charles Douglas (1848), James Archibald (1848), and Susan Helena. Burke traces this branch to Cambell of Lochnell, who is the nearest cadet of the Ducal house of Argyll. The property of Barbreck was purchased by General John Campbell, who entailed it upon his nephew the late General Duncan Campbell of Lochnell.
One branch is traced all the way back to a man named Smervimore Amid Coslidh who was born in 510 AD. He had a son named Feither Our (591 AD), who had a son named Duibhn Mor (620 AD), who had a son named Arthur Oid Macduibhn (684), who had a son named Feriher Eile (730), who had a son named Duibgn Fuilt Derg MacDuibhn (700), who had a son named Ferither Finruo (837), who had a son named Dwbhn Derg (born 860 AD in Lochow, Argyleshire Scotland), who had a son named Dubhn Doun (904), who was the father of Diarmid Macduign MacDubhn who was born in 982 AD. He had a son named Duina MacDuibhn born in 990 AD in Dumbartsonshire. He married a woman of the O’Neill and had numerous children with her: Arthur (Armderg) ArmDerg, Dwibhne-Deab-ghall MacDuibhn, Betoc Na Ingen MacDuibhn, Paul (MacDuibhn) O'Dwibhne MacDuibhn and Malcolm MacDwine MacDuibhn. His son Malcolm MacDwine (Gillocallum” “Gillespic” MacDuign was born in 1020 in Lochow. He married Heiress Beauchamp and had three issue: Duncan Dionysius Campbell, Dwine Campbell O’Dwighne, anD Archibald Campbell. His son Arhcibald was born in 1041 AD in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire. He married a woman named Aoife and they left a son named Duncan MaDurine Campbell who was born in 1070 AD. He married Devrail Dorothy Cruachan MacFiachir and had a son named Cailen. Cailen was born in 1090 AD and married Eiall Alexander and Marjory Rus Swyfuins. He left behind Faus Coir, Iver Croumb, and Archibald. Archibald was Chief of Clan MacDuine Campbell and was born in 1130 AD. He was also known as Gillespic Campbell of Lochow. He married Finetta Fraser in 1158 AD and they had three children: Duncan, Donald, and Dugald. His son Dugald was born in 1161 in Loche, Argyll. He married Finoid Macgillvrail and they had two issue: Hugh and Archibald. His son Archibald was born in 1201. He was 8th Knight of Carrick Campbell or 7th Knight of Lochow. He married Margaret Somerville and later Errick Carrick. He left behind three issue: Gwine, Colin, and Beatrice (MacGorrie). His son Colin was born in 1220 in Stirlingshire and he was known as Sir Colin Mor or Cailen Mor Campbell. He married Janet Isabel St. Clair and they had one daughter and the following sons: Neil, Donald, Dougal, Duncan, and Gillespic.His son Neil, or Sir Neil MacCailen Mor Campbell was born in 1258 AD. He married Alyse Crawford, Mariota Cameron, and Mary (Bruce) Fraser. He left behind several children, including John, Colin, Sir Dougal, John (Earl of Athroll) and Duncan.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book “Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers of America” mentions two bearers of this last name: 1) Duncan Campbell of Boston in 1685 who was a bookseller from Scotland and was a postmaster and had a wife named Susannah with whom he had issue: William (1687), Archibald (1689), Matthew (1691), Susannah (1696), and Agnes (1699) and 2) John Campbell of Boston in 1695, likely a brother of Duncan, who was postmaster and creator of the “Boston Newsletter” and had a wife named Mary with whom he had two children: Elizabeth (1696) and Mary (1704). The former bore the following coat of arms or family crest: Gyrony of eight or and sable, with a boar’s head couped as the crest.
The family also made its way into the Carribean, as the 1874 book “The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, Emigrants, Religious Exiles, and Political Rebels” makes two references to this surname: 1) Mary Campbell, daughter of Dowgall and Mary who was baptized in September of 1678 in the parish of Christ Church in Barbados and 2) Ann, wife of Patrick Campel was buried at the parish of St. Michael’s in the Barbados.
Other early American settlers include Colin Campbell (New Jersey 1685), Daniel Campbell (New England 1716), Elizabeth Campbell (New York 1738), Ronald Campbell (New York 1738), Dugald Campbell (New York 1739), and Anna Campbell (New York 1739). Some of the earliest bearers of this surname that settled in Canada were Angus, Archibald, and Robert Campbell who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749.
The Campbell family has 56 mottoes as follows:
Agite pro viribus = Act according to your strength
Armis et fide = By arms and fidelity (Campbell of Auchawilling)
Army parata fero = I carry arms in readiness
Audaces juvo = I help the brave
Audaces juvat = Fortune favors the bold
Audacter et aperte = Boldly and openly
Campi fere praemia belli = Bear off the prizes of war from the field
Candidus cantabit moriens = The pure heart shall sing when dying
Constans et prudens = Steady and wise steadfastly (Campbell of Skerrington)
Constanter et prudenter = Prudently and steadfastly (Campbell of Sombey)
Deo volenete = God willing
Fac et spera = Do and hope
Festina lente = Be quick without impetuosity
(This motto is originally a Greek maxim assigned by Aulus Gellius to Augustus, to whom the former gives great credit, for having found means so briefly to express a maxim of a very peculiar nature, including, as he expresses it, both “ industria? celeritas,” and “ diligentiae tarditas,” a quickness of application with wariness of proceeding.)
Fides probata coronat = Approved faith confers a crown
Fidus amicus = Faithful friend (Campbell of Islay)
Fit via vi = Strength is the way
Fortitudine et prudentia = Fortitude and Prudence
Gaudium adfero = I bring good tidings
Honore et armis = By honor and arms
Labore et perseverantia = Through labour and perseverence
Lente sed opportune = Slowly but opportunely/suitably
Mar bu mhiann dom = unknown translation
Ne obliviscaris = Forget not
Nunquam obliviscar = I will never forget
Optime quod opportune = What is done opportunely is best
Paratus sum = I am ready
Per crucem ad lucem = Through the cross to the light
Perse verantia victor = By patience and perseverance
Pro patria semper = Always for country
Pro artis et focus = For our altars and our homes (Campbell of Shirven)
Qua panditur orbis =Where the world extends
Quae recta sequer = I will follow the things which are right
Quid non pro patria = What would not one do for his country (Campbell of Perthshire)
Refero = Answer or I bring back (Campbell of Gargunnock)
Sequitur victoria fortis = Victory follows the brave
Tandem licet sero = At length though late
Terra mare fide = By the earth, sea and faith (Campbell of Ardintenny)
Ulterius et melius = Farther and better
Vigilando = Guarding
Vincit labor = Work conquers all
Vis et fides = Power and fidelity
Vix ea nostra voco = I scarcely call these things our own (of Weasenham, Cockley, Cley, & Fakenham)
Wisdom’s beginning is God’s fear = Wisdom’s beginning is God’s fear
Without fear =Without fear
Be mindful (Campbell of Moy)
Sequor = Follow me or I follow
I bear in mind
I byde my tyme (Campbell of Auchmannock)
Set on = Set on
Thus far (Campbell of Glenfalloch)
True to the end (Campbell of Powis)
Forget me not
Forget not (Campbell of Auchinbreak)
If I can (Cambell Colquhon of Killermont)
Memini (I remember)
Tandem licet sero = At length through late
The first arms listed is considered the oldest arms. We have 75 coats of arms for this surname depicted here. They are from Bernard Burke’s General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was publishes in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it.
Famous people with this last name include: 1) John “Jack” Moren Campbell (1916-1999) who was the 21st Governor of New Mexico in the 1960s, 2) Jane Louise Campbell (1953) who was the first female mayor of Cleveland, 3) Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Cambell, aka “Roy” (1901-1957) who was a South African poet and satirist, 4) Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) who was a Scotish-Irish immigrant ordained minister that was known for leading the Restoration Movement in the United States, and 5) John Francis Cambell (1821-1885) who was a Scottish author and scholar of Celtic Studies also known as Young John of Islay.