There is only one source of the name Carmichael and that is territorial or geographic
in origin from the northern edge of the Southern Uplands in Scotland. An ancient
hill fort or caer in a prominent location close to the main route north from the
border was chosen by the good Queen Margaret in the year 1058 as the site of one
of her first six churches established in the see of Glasgow. Due to the prominence
of the site, she dedicated the church to St. Michel and the district and its peoples
became of Caermichel when surnames were necessitated in the thirteenth century.
During the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Carmichaels travelled
widely - some to Galloway - where they became kinsmen of the Stewarts of Galloway
and later moved northwards settling in Lismore and Appin as kinsmen of the Stewarts
of Appin and the McDougals. Others went to Holland where Robert Carmichael the armourer
still has descendants known today as Carmiggelts.
Further movements to Ireland in 1690 and to the Americas from 1650 onwards resulted
in the world-wide spread of the name. Events such as the emancipation of slavery
when released slaves in Carolina took the name of their Scottish plantation owner
employer gave a mixed race element whilst the highland clearances moved many Scottish
Carmichaels abroad. After Culloden many 'macghilliemichels' (gaelic for sons of
the servant of St Michael) changed their name to Carmichael.
The 1997 world-wide Carmichael population is estimated at over 42,000 with half
resident in the United States, a quarter in the United Kingdom and 10% in Canada.
A further 10% lives in Australasia. Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland,
South Africa and Italy each have significant Carmichael population.