The tradition is current in almost all the branches of the Macomber family that their first American ancestors were of Scotch origin. Hence some, after the family had been a century and a half or more in America, changed the spelling of the name to McComber, McCumber, McOmber and McUmber. There evidence, however, that the ancestors knew how to spell their name when they came to this country, and they spelled it Macomber, as many signatures witness.
How was the name pronounced? The records of PlymouthColony for fifty years have the name "Maycumber," and so it has been pronounced to this day by the descendants of John Macomber of Taunton. Many of the descendants of William Macomber of Marshfield, pronounce the name Mac'-om-ber. This may have been suggested by the supposed Scotch origin, Mac, son of Com-ber, Kumber, or Umber.
Some have wanted a coat-of-arms and have been easily satisfied with one supplied by the artists. An artist in Troy, N. Y., some years ago got up a coat-of-arms to order, a blue shield with a yellow cross of St. George. The crest was a cat sejant, with the motto, "Touch not the cat but a glove." The shield had as supporters the flags of Scotland and of the United States, and the astonishing statement was made by the artist, that the coat-of-arms was granted in the year 1004 for distinguished services to the King of Scotland and that the first of the Macomber name was a crusader. This clumsy forgery needs no refutation. The crest is that of the family McCombie. It is not worth while to determine where the "artist" stole the rest of it.
Under date Of 3 Apr., 1882, Charles A. Macomber of Cochesett, Mass., wrote to Chandler F. Macomber of West Chesterfield, Mass., as follows:
It is now thirty-five or more years, since I became acquainted with a gentleman from England, an artist, who for a favor bestowed copied from one of the many books he owned on Heraldry the Macomber coat-of-arms, which he presented to me. As an explanation for the drawing the following words were printed,-"The family of Macomber is stated by McPherson, in his history of the Clans, to be of the McKonnochic branch of the clan of Campbells. Archibald Campbell McKonnochie of Kot-nber saved the life of King Robert the Second of Scotland by shooting an arrow through the head of a wild boar, then attacking him, when the king gave him the Crest the family bear in memory of the act, and the family changed the name to Macomber."
The arms were described as follows: "Arms, Argent, three dexter hands couped at the wrist, holding bunches of arrows, all proper, in chief, and in base the Imperial Crown of Scotland. Crest, a boar's head erased, having an arrow through it, of the proper colors. The arms are surrounded by a bordure of those of Campbell, viz.-gyrony of eight, Or and Sable. Motto, He hath sent and he hath rewarded."
This coat-of-arms has been widely copied, the only change being the substitution of a Latin motto, His nitimur et munitur, perhaps the original of the attempted translation above. If anyone will take the trouble to look in "An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and. Bearings in Scotland," by James Balfour Paul, Edinburgh, 1893, it will there be seen that the above coat-of-arms belongs to the Maconochie family of Meadowbank and that it dates from 1819. A score of families have a boar's head for a crest. This "artist," too, has stolen a coat-of-arms from one family and a crest with slight modification from another. The combination he has sent to the Macombers of the United States as the arms of their ancestor, with a fanciful story about Robert the Second, who died in the year 1390.
As for McPherson's History 'of the Clans, I can find no evidence that any such book ever existed. There is a McPherson's "Sketches of the Clans," published some years after the artist wrote the above. It says nothing whatever about the Macomber family, neither can I find the name in any book of heraldry found in the libraries of Boston, or in the British Museum, London. It is reasonable to conclude that the Macomber family never had a coat-of-arms. It has gotten along in America very Well without such an emblem of aristocratic rank.
The evidence is convincing that William and John Macomber came from Devonshire, England, or vicinity, along with the other settlers of Plymouth and Bristol Counties, Mass. The emigrants brought with them the very names of the towns from which they came, Plymouth, Taunton, Tiverton, Dartmouth, Falmouth, Barnstable, Truro, Weymouth, Plympton, Bridgewater, Dorchester, all found in the southwestern part of England. Historians tell us that there were no Scotch nor Irish among those first settlers. The parish registers of Devonshire would probably tell much about the Macomber family. From the few books accessible I have gleaned the following interesting items
Sept. 14, 1611, Thomas Macumber of St. Martin, Exeter, and Thomasine Staplehill of St. Stephen in the said city. See Marriage Licenses of the Diocese of Exeter, P. 24.
John Force of the city of Exeter, gent, bachelor, about 24, and Anne Macomber, of same, spinster, about 22, her parents dead at Harpford or Ailesboro, said County Devon, 24 Dec. 1667.- See London Marriage Licenses.
Harpford and Aylesboro are small villages, near the fine church of Ottery St. Mary, about eight or nine miles easterly from Exeter.
John Adams of Staverton licensed, Nov. 27, 1615, to marry
Thomasine Macomber.-Marriage licenses of Exeter, Eng. P. 47.
Nov. 6, 1676, George Stoning of the city of Exeter, grocer, bachr, about 28, and Elizabeth Macumber of the same, spr, about 25, at own disp. alleged by Edward Willoughly of St. Septilchre's, Cornhill, London, Druggist, at St. Peter's, St. Davis, or St.Paul, in the city of Exeter.-See Allegations for Marriage Licenses issued by the Vicar General of the Archbishop of Canterbury,published by the Harleian Society, p. 101.
The Calendar of Devonshire Wills shows that Thomas Macomber of Exeter made his will in 1697.
It has been learned through a genealogist in Devonshire that the inventory of Thomas Macomber of Exeter was recorded in 1621. He left a widow Jane. "He was a grocer in a large way of business, leaving property in Ireland” -- ”I found a family of Meacomb and Macomber in the vicinity of Ashburton and Totlies. The dates range from 1590 to 1630 and the names are Walter, Christopher, Gregory, Margaret and Edmund."
These items point to Devonshire, England, as the home of the ancestors of the Macomber family in America. The spelling of the name was there as well as here, Macomber and Macumber. It is noticeable that Thomasine Macomber, widow probably of Thomas Macumber, married John Adams. Combe in old English means a valley and is a very frequent termination of surnames and names of places in Devonshire. There may have been a Maycombe, just as there was a May Hill and a Mayfield. Indeed a place called Maycomb is found in Wexford, Ireland. A place called Maycombe, Macombe, may have given origin to the surname Maycombe, Macombe, Maycomber, Macomber, Macumber.
The Macombers may have originated in some place called May Valley.
Others insist that the name is of Scotch origin and that some migration carried the name into Devonshire. I am informed that Harry Alfred Long's Personal and Family Names, published by John Menzie & Co., Edinburgh, 1883, derives the names McComb, McCombe, McCoombe, McComber, and McCumber from the Gaelic " Omish" (Thomas) and that other forms of the same name are McOmish, McTavish and McTanse. A Memoir of the Families of McCombie and Thomas, originally McIntosh and McThomas, by William McCombie Smith, Edinburgh, 1890,says that McThomie, McHomie, McOmie, McOmish, McOmy,McComie, McCombie and Thoms, McThomas and McIntosh, all are names used to designate members of the same clan. Antiquarians seem to agree that the McIntosh clan are a branch of the clan Chattan and that the McCombie family are a branch of theclan McIntosh, taking its rise in the latter half of the fourteenth century. It is claimed that the founder of the clan McIntosh was Shaw McDuff, second son of the fifth Earl of Fife, who distinguished himself in quelling a rebellion among the Moray tribes against Malcolm IV., about the years 1161-63.
In 1904 Dove, Lockhart and Smart, lawyers of Edinburgh, wrote to Charles Sumner Macomber, lawyer of Ida Grove, Iowa, as follows:
judging from your name we should say you were undoubtedly a Scot by origin. The name "Macomber," in its various forms, "McCoombe," "McCumber," "Macomber," "McOmish," "McCombie" is well known, here. As you are no doubt aware it is claimed. (and the claim we believe is generally admitted) that the Macombers are a branch of the clan McIntosh-also sometimes called the Shaws. The branch was founded by Shaw McDuff, second son of the fifth Earl of Fife. As you are also no doubt aware the clan McIntosh was one of the clans which took part in the memorable duel on the North Inch of Perth. Vide Scott's "Fair Maid of Perth," where they are designated the "Clan Chattan." You will also see in Scott's "Waverly" that a scion of the clan, "Evan Dhu Maccombish," is one of the leading personages.