McGrew Name Study

Privacy Level: Open (White)
This page has been accessed 1,799 times.

Categories: McGrew Name Study | One Name Studies | DNA Projects.

Welcome to the McGrew Name Study!

This is a project that I hope will become a valuable reference point for any McGrew researchers alike to share their knowledge by posting their DNA tests, resources, pictures, stories, and anything else of interest to this surname.

For a complete list of McGrew profiles on WikiTree, see the McGrew Index Page.

Please join by contacting the project leader, Alison Andrus. See the sections on our goals and what you can do below. Post questions and comments to and add details about your particular area of interest.

McGrew Name Meaning

Irish: altered form of Mulgrew.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press


Our Goals

Although DNA analysis can assist in determining that two or more participants who have tested their yDNA descend from a common male ancestor, it will not identify the specific ancestor without the use of accurate record documentation used in genealogical research. There is a McGrew DNA Project hosted by Family Tree DNA. We can help the effort by creating the best McGrew tree possible.

The purpose of this study is to work together to establish an accurate McGrew Family tree by using the best possible sources available for documentation.

What You Can Do

  1. Add the McGrew tag to the list of tags you are following.
  2. Work cooperatively together with other McGrew profile managers to create the best McGrew tree possible.
  3. Add the One Name Studies template and category for McGrew Name Study to any McGrew profiles you manage.
  4. Search out original rather than derivative documentation and add sources to McGrew profiles.
  5. Write comprehensive, well-sourced biographies.
  6. Check for duplicates and request merges.
  7. Contact Alison to request PPP status for those profiles that meet the criteria for project protection. This will protect them from an incorrect merge.
  8. If you are a male with the McGrew surname and haven't already, please consider testing your yDNA through the McGrew Family Tree DNA Project so that we can all have a better understanding of our heritage and possibly make new discoveries.
  9. Do you have an McGrew profile you are especially proud of? Let Alison know and we will feature it on this page.


Most descendants of the McGrew family will agree that the McGrew family is Scots-Irish in ethnicity, however, there have been many theories as to where the McGrew family originated.

The most common theory amongst descendants is that the McGrew family came from Clan MacGregor, however, yDNA comparisons made between the McGrew family and a typical set of McGregor DNA results found on their website have been examined and results suggest that there is no genetic relationship between McGregors and McGrews. Also over 1,000 DNA results from a Scottish Clans DNA database have been examined and no consistent matches have been found between our results and results within any clan. Some clans of interest (Fraser, Buchanan and Drummond) have very few published samples, and results from these clans will continue to be evaluated for matches.

Please see the DNA Results page at FamilyTree DNA for more information.

Oral History

James C. McGrew, born in Pennsylvania, in 1761 (later lived in Kingwood, VA) was one of the first known McGrew historians, and he wrote 'There is no doubt that the McGrews who migrated from Ireland to America were native Scots or descendants of Scotch immigrants who left Scotland to avoid religious persecution. (this was found in 'History of the McGrew family' prepared for a McGrew reunion that was held at Olympia Park near McKeesport, PA on August 15, 1912). James C. McGrew also stated that his grandfather (Robert McGrew) came to America from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland wearing a blue scotch bonnet.

According to the Coat of Arms & Family Crests Store, McGREW, now shortened to Grewer and Grewar is found principally in the south of Perthshire, about Glenartney, and it was common in Dunblane and Doune in the 17th and 18th centuries. The family of the North as a sept are merged mostly in the Frasers and adjoining clans. Other spellings of the name include MacGRUER, MacGROUGHTER, MacGROWTHER, MacCRITER and McHRUDDER. The earliest recorded of the name is Gilawnane McCrouder, who was witness to a charter in 1447, and Gilbert McGrevar was a tenant of Dowart, Stragarta in 1499. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'. Duncan M'Rudder was a witness in Perth in 1547, and Alexander M'Gruder held the parsonage of Lochals in 1550. John McGrader (arrow-maker) in Blainrowar was fined in 1613 for reset (receiver or concealer of stolen goods) of Clan Gregor.

DNA Project

There is a McGrew DNA Project registered at FamilyTree DNA. Please see the chart for test results and analysis.

For further explanation of the analysis, please see the project administrator, John McGrew's article What The McGrew Family Has Learned From DNA Analysis.

Early Immigration to America

According to John McGrew's article, The main DNA branches have been isolated into descendants of the following groups:

  • Robert McGrew, b. abt. 1675, along with his wife, Isabel, five sons and two grandchildren came to America in 1726 from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland. It is probable that this family came first to New Castle, Delaware, and then to Chester County, Pennsylvania. Chester County at that time comprised a great area in Southeastern Pennsylvania. As western lands were opened up, through Blunston licenses, Robert and his sons moved westward, crossing the Susquehanna River, into what was Lancaster County after 1729, York County after 1749, and Adams County after 1800.
  • James A. McGrew (m. Jane Lapsley) arrived at Charleston SC in 1773 with his wife and 3 sons. He is known to have come from Co. Tyrone and DNA analysis shows he shares a common ancestor with Robert McGrew, probably several generations further back.
  • Patrick McGrew’s father (probably John or James) came to central PA about 1774. After his father’s death Patrick and his family moved to Preston Co WV. His father was said to be a Scotsman. DNA shows that Patrick's line was genetically similar to Robert's but still distinct. He may share a common ancestor with Robert and Thomas 1000-1500 years further back.
  • Thomas McGrew (m. first Margaret Curry) either came to the Colonies from Co. Tyrone about 1755 (according to a letter written by his grandson) with his wife or was born in Chester Co PA in 1732 (according to words written by Thomas when he was an old man and said to be losing his memory). Thomas and his descendants moved from western SC to TN and KY. DNA from his line shows that Thomas and Robert's lines were similar but genetically distinct. He may share a common ancestor with Robert and Patrick 1000-1500 years further back.

Summary: Robert, Thomas, and Patrick’s lines are called the Northwest Irish type or more specifically R-M222. Approximately 10% of males in NW Ireland are of this type today. It is also found in a smaller number in SW lowland Scotland. Originally these lines were Irish. Their ancestor(s) probably migrated from N. Ireland to Scotland between 500-1000 AD as part of the kingdom of Dal Riata. These lines are culturally Scots but genetically Irish. Robert, Thomas, and probably Patrick’s immediate ancestors were Ulster Scots or Scots-Irish who immigrated to Ulster in Northern Ireland from Scotland in the early 1600’s.Like many of their contemporaries they then immigrated to the Colonies in the 1700’s.

  • Alexander McGrew (possibly MacGruar, m. Margaret Tate) who is known to have been in South Carolina in 1752.He may have arrived at Savannah Georgia about 1737 from Scotland. He may have been born in Boleskineshire, Inverness, Scotland in 1707. Many of his sons lived in the Tombigbee area of Alabama in the early 1800’s. DNA from his line shows that Alexander does not share a common ancestor with any of the other lines.

Summary: DNA analysis of Alexander’s line showed it to be Scots and, it fact, very old Scots. The origin of this line is with the Pretani (Britani) who predated the Picts in Scotland. The specific name for this genetic line is R-L21.

  • Andrew McGrew (later Megrue, m. Hannah Rust) was born in Baltimore in 1760.His ancestry is unknown, but many thought he might be the son of a brother or cousin of one of the McGrews who came to the Colonies in the 1750’s.He and his family moved to central Ohio about 1806 when he changed his name to Megrue. DNA from his line shows that Andrew does not share a common ancestor with any of the other lines.

Summary: This line appears to be Norse. Its ancestors were Vikings. This line is probably Norman since when William the Conqueror ruled England he gave land in Scotland to some of his barons to ensure their loyalty. Several Scots Clans are known to be mixed Norman-Scots. The specific genetic name for this line is not known.

McGrew Descendants on WikiTree

Please add your info to the table below or contact Alison to add it.

Researcher Name Oldest McGrew Ancestor Haplogroup GEDMatch ID Ancestry Test ID FTDNA Kit# Ysearch ID
Alison Andrus Robert McGrew R-M269 A978292 ALi1202 357520 4P5UJ
Allen McGrew Robert McGrew AlMcGrew
John Smeltzer Robert McGrew I1-Z140 A903922 JohnFSmeltzer 56528

McGrew Family Notables

James McGrew (1813-1910), American politician, merchant, banker and hospital director
John McGrew (circa 1910-1999), American animator, painter and musician
Lance McGrew, American NASCAR crew chief
Larry McGrew (1957-2004), retired American football linebacker
Reggie McGrew (born 1976), American football defensive tackle
Sam McGrew (born 1984), former American football linebacker


Images: 7
McGrew Surname Distribution in 1841 Scotland
McGrew Surname Distribution in 1841 Scotland

McGrew Surname Distribution in the United States 1840
McGrew Surname Distribution in the United States 1840

McGrew Surname Distribution in 1861 Scotland
McGrew Surname Distribution in 1861 Scotland

McGrew Surname Distribution in 1881 Scotland
McGrew Surname Distribution in 1881 Scotland

McGrew Surname Distribution in 1891 England & Wales
McGrew Surname Distribution in 1891 England & Wales

view all

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: June Higgins, Alison Andrus, Allen McGrew, and John Smeltzer. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)

On 31 Jan 2016 at 05:45 GMT Jeffrey McGrew wrote:

If there are any McGrews that find yourself here whose yDNA belongs to the Haplogroup "E", I would love to hear from you. There is a mystery to be solved. Contact me [mcgrew-81].