The following is information researched by my father, Kevin McKee, utilizing materials such as The Book of McKee by Raymond Walter McKee:
Surnames in general became a practice in China a few thousand years ago and came to France around 1100AD. Usually a surname would be a variation of a Christian name or description of the place in which they lived, color of their hair, their job, social status or the like. When the Normans conquered England, surnames were not in general use and were a relatively new innovation, even among Normans. All Milesian Irish and the McKees are likely fundamentally Phoenician, that they traded among and intermarried with many races particularly the Egyptians and the Hebrews, and that they were in all probability the most advanced race on earth from the dawn of civilization. The Phoenicians invented money, made glass, sailed the seas in ships of their own construction, formulated the alphabet and written language and entertained a concept of deity, when the progenitors of many other races were still almost literally swinging by tails from the limbs of trees. Several hundred years before the incarnation, personal names commenced to add a suffix.
In the Gaelic, Aodh,having red hair is Aodh Ruadh. If his hair is black he becomes Aodh Dubh. Aodh, pronounced “Ee” was frequently used for Irish kings and chiefs. The word means fire, and may have had its origins in Druidical worship of very ancient times, when the fire and sun, wind, moon, water and so on held mystical meanings and powers that needed placation and worship. There is no doubt that the name McKee is an anglicization of the Gaelic name MacAodh. In short is is spelled McKee as the nearest approach to a Scotsman or Irishmans way of pronouncing Mac Aodh. Mac Aodh means son of Aodh. Aodh cannot be transmitted into english. It was anciently written Heth or Eth or Aed meaning “fiery one”, englished Aneneas. McKee is also an anglicization of Mac Caoch, which in Gaelic means son of a one eyed man or son of a dim sighted man, by the curious Gaelic system of antiphrasis. Many family historians would say McKee mean son of Hugh, and although I have read it doesnt. The majority of McKee lines came over from Scotland to North Ireland following the signing of the solemn league and convenant and consequent persecutions. One history mentions there was a move by the McKees to Scotland in the 1100s, then a move back to Ireland in the 1500s. Many remained in the North of Ireland-more frequently in Down, Antrim, Londonderry and Monaghan today, than in the southern counties. No one who has not immersed himself for a while in the ancient Irish history realizes that Scotland was colonized and populated by Irish. The race is Gaelic, or even more popularly Milesian. Fergus the Great led the second large colony across into Scotland in 503AD and although it cannot be definitely proved, every bit of evidence that has come to hand points to the fact that members of Clan Aodha were among the earliest colonists who took up abode in the Highland of Scotland. The Scots were originally Northern Irish, and under Fergus conquered a portion of Alba, eventually giving their name to the whole country- Scotland. Sufficient reliable historical data no longer exists to serve as a basis for trailing the McKee tribe absolutely, step by step back to its beginnings; instead we rely on fragmentary references in very topographical poems and ecclesiastical works.
I (RWM) counsel every McKee to bear his name proudly. His race is illustrious, and his tribe is noble, at least in the sense that it has always borne itself nobly. He may be entitled to differenced arms in Ireland and Scotland, depending on his ability to trace his forebears back in one or the other of those two nations. ARMS BELONG TO THE MAN. This means what it says, since arms were originated so that a shielded or mailed warrior might be identified by his followers. Actually, hundreds of families today illegally display as their own, armoral bearing that belonged to an extremely remote kinsman not an ancestor, which is like wearing a great-uncle’s Civil War uniform, and flourishing his inscribed sword as one’s own; or even more aptly claiming a distant cousins college degree and using it, even to the extent of displaying a framed reproduction of his diploma. It actually amounts to insufferable pretense. A direct eldest descendant bears the exact arms of a remote ancestor. Collaterals bear differenced arms as do second sons and so on. An ancestor is one on whose prior existence your own present existence depends. An uncle, for example, quite obviously had nothing to do with your existence, and so is not an ancestor, but a collateral. His arms are no more yours than his medical degree.
It is said that three brothers McKee fought on the side of the Protestant William of Orange-who was the winner in this significant battle. Historian Delber L McKee mentions “McKees did not get to American on the Mayflower, but a Neale Mackee came to Virginia in the year 1652. McKees fought on both sides of the American Revolution but made their most memorable impression on the United States in the names of two western Pennsylvania cities- McKeesport and McKees Rocks”.