Notables and Namesakes

Famous and Notorious Cuindlis Family Members

Various ancestors and relatives have notably stood out from the crowd, attracting in-depth coverage in historical, biographical, and pop-culture materials:

Cuindles or Coinndles (fl. 713–724), 17th abbot of Clonmacnoise in the ancient kingdom of Uí Failghe (now Offaly, Leinster, Ireland); he was originally of the Soghain of Connacht, in what today is central east Galway. [Image: Ruins of medieval monastery surrounded by high crosses and grave markers]
Ruins of Clonmacnoise
(by Klaus Bärwinkel)
Domnall Ó Cuindlis (d. 1342), historian in Uí Maine (present-day Galway and Roscommon, Ireland); mentioned in the Annals of Connacht.
Murchadh (or Muircheartach) Riabhach Ó Cuindlis (fl. 1398–1411), scribe in Uí Maine, and helped write the Book of Lecan and An Leabhar Breac.
Cornelius Ó Cunlis or O’Cunlis, bishop of Emly (1444–48) and Clonfert (1448 – ca. 1463), in east Co. Galway.
[There’s a huge 1463–1806 gap here. Biographical dictionaries may be a good place to start filling it in. Have an entry to propose? Contact us.]
Robert Smith Candlish (1806–1873), Edinburgh minister; a founder of the Free Church of Scotland, a leader of the non-intrusion party, and a leading figure in the Great Disruption of 1843; author of at least 11 theological works; father of James Smith Candlish. [Late-middle-aged Robert Smith Candlish, with neck-beard, rather wild hair, and a black overcoat]
Wilson McCandless (1810–1882), US federal distrinct judge of the Western District of Pennsylvania (1859–76); McCandless Township (see below) was named after him in 1857. [Portrait of Wilson McCandless in later years with grey or white hair, in formalwear]
John Candlish (1816–1874), Liberal Party member of Parliament for Sunderland, Durham, England, 1866–1874; glass bottle manufacturer. [Detail of bronze statue of John Candlish MP, a middle-aged man with a large beard]
(by Craigy144)
John MacGregor McCandlish, WS FRSE (1821–1901), Scottish lawyer; first president of the Faculty of Actuaries.
David Colbert McCanles (1828-1861), rancher, former sheriff in North Carolina, and later an alleged outlaw of “the McCanles Gang” in Nebraska; killed by “Wild Bill” Hickok. [Image: David C. McCanles in a rather outlandishly large hat, with a decorative scarf]
William “Buck” McCandless (1834–1884), Union Army officer in the American Civil War, and later member of the Pennsylvania State Senate (1st District, 1867–69), and first Secretary of Internal Affairs of Pennsylvania (1875–79). [William McCandless probably aged about 45, a full-bearded man in a high-necked, buttoned coat]
James Smith Candlish (1835–1897), minister of the Free Church of Scotland, and a professor of theology in Glasgow; author of 7 books on theology; son of Robert Smith Candlish.
Margaret Ann McCandless (Fulton), author in Northern Ireland. Wrote the temperance song “Catch My Pal”, popular as far away as London; and the book Arthur, or The Choirister’s Rest1 (1861, republished 1880, 1883, 1897 – a remarkable print run for a Victorian Christian children’s story). [Image: Book cover featuring two-colour art of a preacher talking to a boy of about 10]
Lincoln “Link” Loy McCandless (1859–1940), American cattle rancher, industrialist, and politician; member of Republic of Hawai’i House of Representatives, 1898–1900 (Republican); Territory of Hawaii Senator, 1902–06 (Republican); Territorial Delegate to US House of Representatives, 1933–35 (Democrat). [Image: Portrait of Lincoln Loy McCandless in an early-20th-century tuxedo]
Byron McCandless (1881–1967), vexillologist, inventor, and commodore in the US Navy; became commanding officer of the USN Destroyer Base (San Diego, California) in 1937, after several other high-profile appointments; a street in San Diego is named after him. [Image: Byron McCandless late in his career]
Benjamin Vaughan McCandlish (1886–1975), US Navy flag officer; 36th naval governor of Guam; recipient of the Navy Cross. [Image: Benjamin McCandlish in his 20s, young man with parted dark hair, in a period US Navy peacoat]
Edward Gerstell McCandlish (1887-1946), American illustrator, mapmaker, toymaker, and author of the Bunny Tots series of children’s books (1920s); perhaps best known for illustrating Laboulaye’s Fairy Book. [Image: Two photos of Edward G. McCandlish, one in his 20s and one in his 50s]
Raymond (Ray) Beebe McCandless (1889–1931), American college sports coach. [Ray B. McCandless in a tanktop]
Alva John McAndless (1890–1954), a president of the American Institute of Actuaries and of the American Life Convention, and a director of the Institute of Life Insurance, among various other leadership and advisory positions in the insurance and finance sector. [Image: Alva McAndless at about age 45, a balding man in a light suit and dark necktie]
Scott Cook “Jack” McCandless (1891–1961), Major League Baseball player (Baltimore Terrapins).
John (Jack) McCandless (1892–1940), Irish football (soccer) player (in England) and manager (in N. Ireland); co-founder of Coleraine FC. [Image: Jack McCandless in an Edwardian suit]
William (Billy) McCandless (1894–1955), Northern Irish football player and manager, most active in Scotland and Wales. [Image: Billy McCandlish, cut-out from a team promotional picture]
Timothy (alias Harry) Quinlisk (1895–1920), an Irish Brigade member and former WWI German POW, who later acted as a double-agent for the British; executed by the Irish Republican Army at Ballyphehane, County Cork, Ireland, for trying to betray the location of a key IRA leader, Michael Collins. [Image: Two rather rough photos of Timothy Quinlisk, the only known pictures of him.]
Stanley Russell McCandless (1897–1967), considered to be the first theatrical-lighting educator. [Image: Stanley McCandless late in life, a balding man with a white goatee, in a light suit and dark tie]
John Edward Chalmers McCandlish, CB, CBE (1901–1974), British Army major-general, of the Royal Engineers; was Deputy Adjutant-General of the British Army of the Rhine (1945–46), among other high appointments. [Image: J. E. C. McCandlish in uniform, with glasses]
(by Walter Stoneman; from
National Portrait Gallery, London)
Bruce McCandless I (1911–1968), US Navy rear admiral, and Medal of Honor recipient. [Image: Bruce McCandless I in white US Navy uniform with Navy Cross medal.]
Rex McCandless (1915–1992), Northern Irish motorcycle road racer, designer of the Norton Featherbed motorcycle frame; brother of Cromie. [Image: Rex McCandless fairly late in life, probably mid-50s; a smiling man with greying light hair, in a plaid suit]
James Conlisk Jr. (1918–1984), 51st Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, 1967–73. [Image: James Conlisk Jr., middle-aged, in glasses, and in police uniform.]
W. A. C. “Cromie” McCandless (1921–1992), Northern Irish motorcycle road racer; brother of Rex. [Image: Cromie McCandless at 31, a dark-haired man smiling, in a leather jacket and a white scarf]
James Sutton McCandless (fl. 1922), Imperial Potentate of Shriners North America. [Image: A late-middle-aged James S. McCandless in a mid-20th-century suit]
William L. McCandlish, British dog breeder; chairman of the Kennel Club, 1925–1935. [Image: William McCandlish about 45, a man with short dark hair, a pronounced widow's peak, a monocle, and a club-collared shirt]
Alfred (Al) A. McCandless (1927–2017), US Congressman (Republican of California) 1983–1995. [Image: Al McCandless smiling, in a suit.]
Bruce McCandless II (1937–2017), US Navy capitain (pilot), and NASA astronaut who made the first untethered spacewalk, on 11 January 1984 as part of Challenger space shuttle mission STS-41-B. Among McCandless’s many honours were the National Defense Service Medal, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and Legion of Merit. [Image: Bruce McCandless II in NASA space suit without helmet]
John Louis Conlisk PhD (1939–2021), Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of California San Diego; his work on Markov chains was acknowledged by giants in the ecology field. [Image: Two photos of John L. Conlisk, in this 30s and much later in life]
Paul Brownlee McCandless Jr. (1947–), American jazz woodwind player and composer. [An elderly Paul McCandless on stage with a microphone]
(2010, by Svíčková)
Christopher (Chris) Johnson McCandless (1968–1992), American hiker and itinerant traveler who starved to death in Alaska; the subject of multiple non-fiction books and documentaries, beginning with Into the Wild (1996); coined the slogan “Happiness is only real when shared.” [Chris McCandless smiling outdoors, sitting against his repurposed bus]
Louise Candlish, Northumberland-born author of the novels The Heights, The Other Passenger, Those People, and Our House, the last of which was the winner of British Book Awards “Crime & Thriller Book of the Year 2019” and adapted into a 2021–2022 television series on ITV in the UK. [Louse Candlish with a striped shirt and a microphone, looking to her right]
(2021, by Roger Green)
Mackey “Avatar” McCandlish, animator; co-creator of the film Blahbalicious.


Various places and things have been named after family members:

McCandless Archeological Site, an 8000 BC – 1000 AD prehistoric quarry of the “Delaware Chalcedony Complex”. Near present-day Elkton in Cecil County, Maryland, it has been listed as a National Register Historic Place since 1983, and is part of a complex of sites used during various phases of stone tool production by ancient Native Americans. It is unclear whom it was named after, but such sites are often named for the owner of the property on which they are discovered.
McCandless, Pennsylvania, a town (technically township) of approx. 28,000 people and 16.6 square miles (43 km2), on the Allegheny Plateau in north Allegheny County. It was incorporated in 1857, and named after judge Wilson McCandless (see above). [Image: Town logo featuring a streetcar, a tree, and a radio tower]
McCandlish Hall, a community centre in Straiton, South Ayrshire, Scotland. Built in 1912, it is unknown who it was named for. If you have details, please contact us. [Image: Whitewashed building with tile roof on cobbled street; it features 'McCandlish Hall' in Art Deco lettering.]
(by Allmhurach)
The McCandless Method, a system of stage lighting developed by Stanley McCandless (see above) in his 1932 book A Method of Lighting the Stage (currently in its 4th edition, 2020). The McCandless Method remains in wide use for modern theatrical productions.
(by Theatre Tech Club)
The McCandless M4, a single-seater ultra-light autogyro (gyrocopter) first flown in 1961, and powered by a series of motorcycle engines. It was devised by Rex and Cromie McCandless (see above) of Northern Ireland, who built 8 of them; some of which are in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. [Image: McCandless M4, a one-seat gyrocopter with registration
(by Aviastar)
USS McCandless (DE 1084, later FF 1084, FFT 1084), a United States Navy destroyer escort (later fast frigate and training frigate). It launched 20 March 1971, and was in commissioned service 1972–1994. Named after Navy men Byron McCandless and Bruce McCandless I (see above). Ship motto: Illumino Marem (‘Illuminating the Sea’). [Image: USS McCandless starboard bow view]
McCandless Business Park in San Jose, California; McCandless Technology Park in Milpitas; and McCandless Towers in Santa Clara; all named for Silicon Valley real estate developer and former US Navy pilot Birk McCandless (of McCandless Management Corp.), who was murdered in 2000. [Image: Wide-angle view of McCandless Business park]
(by Dicklyon)
McCandless Lunar Lander, an unmanned cargo spacecraft designed in 2018–19 for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). It remains in the design stage as of 2023. It is named after astronaut Bruce McCandless II (see above). [Image: Computer-generated image of proposed McCandless Lunar Lander on the Moon with the Earth in the background.]


McCandless and related names pop up here and there in movies, books, and TV shows. These are the “sightings” to date:

  • The McCanles, McCanless, or McCandless outlaw gang was essentially a fiction invented by “Wild Bill” Hickok. David Colbert McCanles (see above) was a real person, but there is no evidence he ran an outlaw gang, and by all credible accounts, Hickok murdered him and his elder son in cold blood. The “McC. Gang” has made various appearances in fictional and pseudo-historical accounts, ranging from Harper’s Magazine of the period, to later western films, to poorly researched old west “history” books.
  • The 1946 western film Duel in the Sun (directed by King Vidor), centers on a fictional McCanles family: Senator Jackson McCanles (played by Lionel Barrymore), wife Laura Belle (Lillian Gish), and sons Lewton (Gregory Peck) and Jesse (Joseph Cotten). The movie is based on the 1944 novel of the same title by Niven Busch.
  • [Do you know the name of this film? Contact us!] There is a ca. 1950s to early 1960s film, a precursor of Saving Private Ryan, about three or four brothers named McCandless all ultimately killed in WWII and who had a ship named after them. (The ship is fictional and not to be confused with the real USS McCandless; see above.) The story seems to be loosely based on that told in The Fighting Sullivans (1944), based on a true story about brothers of another name.
  • John Wayne played the titular Jacob “Big Jake” McCandles in the 1971 western movie Big Jake (dir. George Sherman). Maureen O’Hara plays wife Martha, and Patrick Wayne (John’s real-life second son), Christopher Mitchum, and Bobby Vinton play their sons James, Michael, and Jeff, respectively. Grandson Little Jake was played by John Wayne’s own youngest son Ethan Wayne.
  • A McCandless family of Washington DC were the central characters of a 1970s soap opera. [Details needed. Contact us if you have some.]
  • Wanda Nell McCandless was a one-off character appearing in the 1970s–80s TV series M*A*S*H (season 3, episode 13, “Mad Dogs and Servicemen”). She was named for Douglas Montrose McCandless (a son of Bruce McCandless I, see above), acquainted with the daughter of one of the writers of the episode, who apparently needed an interesting name to use.
  • Capt. Phillips McCandless is the hero of the steamy 1991 romance and southern American historical novel Promise Me Forever by Jannelle Taylor.
  • Mr. “Mac” McCandless, an evil or at least morally ambiguous tycoon, is played by Anthony Hopkins in the 1992 sci-fi movie Freejack (dir. Geoff Murphy), also starring Emilio Estévez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo, and David Johansen. The film is loosely based on the 1959 novel Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley.
  • Col. Hector McCandless of the British East India Company is a recurring and heroic role in Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series of historical novels set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries (and adapted into a TV series starring Sean Bean as Sharpe).
  • Sasha McCandless is the titular heroine in an ongoing series of legal thrillers by Mellisa F. Miller (15 volumes between 2011 and 2022, many reaching the USA Today bestsellers list).


This page uses material from the Wikipedia articles “Candlish“, “McCandlish“, and “McCandless (surname)“, which are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Other sources

1: McCandless, Sarah Adeline; “Some Annals of the West Branch of the Highland Family of McCandlish-Buchanan”; A Ready Reference Sketch of Erin and Alban; Pittsburgh: self-published; 1918. Reprinted, Salem, Massachusetts: Higginson Book Co.; 2006; pp. 134–135, 167. This source truncated the book title to “Arthur’s Rest“, but the full title is readily identifiable, along with publication dates, publisher (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), and other details, via bibliographic databases.

Last modified 2023-05-12 by SMcCandlish.