13 August 2011

Mac vs Mc (Is is Scottish or Irish or what?)

Published by Kenneth S. Doig

Mac vs Mc

My surname "Doig" used to be MacGilleDog over a thousand years ago. My ancestors either moved south or the Germanic (Old-English language) border moved north. So we made it look less Gaelic. It was shortened to "Dog" or "Dogg" and the earliest ancestor to whom I am directly related is Walter Dog who lived in Central (Lowlands) Scotland in the 12th century. We have an unbroken father-to-son-to-grandfather, unbroken patrilineal link going back to the 1100's. I can go to my uncle Ken's (He's Kenneth Frank Doig) family-history website, www.doig.net and name every single person, from my father to his father, usually with his profession, church-records and spouse's and children's names. "MacGilleDog" means in Gaelic, literally, 'son' 'servant' 'Cadoc' an obscure Welsh saint. That does not mean that I have Welsh blood, we were just his servants. K.S.Doig
 From Wikipedia: Saint Cadoc (or Cadog) (Latin: Cadocus) (born about 497), Abbot of Llancarfan, was one of the 6th century Welsh saints, whose vita twice mentions King Arthur. The Abbey of Llancarfan, near Cowbridge in Glamorganshire, which he founded circa 518, became famous as a centre of learning. The first part of his name means 'battle'.
Cadoc's story appears in a Vita Cadoci written shortly before 1086 by Lifris of Llancarfan; "it was clearly written at Llancarfan with the purpose of honoring the house and confirming its endowments," Consequently, it is of limited historical merit, but some details are of interest. He was a son of Gwynllyw (Latinized Gundleus), King of Gwynllwg in South Wales, who was a brother of Saint Petroc, but a robber chieftain who led a band of three hundred. His mother, Gwladys (Gladys) was the daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog who had been abducted in a raid, during which King Arthur acted as peacemaker. Cadoc's father later stole the cow of the Irish monk, St. Tathyw, and, when the monk came courageously to demand its return, the King decided in return to surrender his son to his care. Cadoc was raised at Caerwent in Monmouthshire by Tathyw, who later became a hermit.Wikipedia
 The local Scottish followers were known as Gille Dog, or servants of St. Cadog. These appear as surnames, first as Dog, and later as Doig, Dock, and Doak. Sir Thomas Dog was Prior of Inchamhome from 1469 to 1477.Wikipedia

This debunks the myth that "Mac" is Scottish and "Mc" is Irish.

Firstly, it is complete and utter nonsense that Mac and Mc indicate Scottish or Irish origins. They are both EXACTLY the same word, the Mc is actually the abbreviated form of Mac (and sometimes meic) and was usually written M'c (sometimes even M') with the apostrophe indicating that the name has been abbreviated (there are many other characters indicating abbreviation including two dots under the c).

There is however one distinction you can make as far as differentiating between a name being Scottish or Irish. If it is an O' name it is always Irish (those in Scotland are mostly nineteenth century emigrations), but if it is a mac, mc or other variation it can be both Scottish or Irish!

The background:

Kings & Kindreds

Irish legal tracts of the fifth century recognise 3 grades of kingship:
rí túathe - ruler of kindred
rí túath - Overlord of other kindreds
- also ruire (ro aire)
rí ruirech - king of overkings
- also rí cóicid - king of a fifth (e.g.. king of Munster)
The above grades are purely legal, in the Irish annals they are simply described as rí - you were supposed to know as you read the annal which grade a particular king belonged to. There was no legal office of ard rí (high king), this was a fiction of tenth and eleventh century historians trying to place the Úi Néill as overlords of everybody.

What's In A Name

This early society was anything but static, new kindreds rose as old ones vanished in name. The names given to kindreds were always in two parts, with the first always denoting kinship.
In the early historical period (c.AD400) a new term comes into use for kindred naming Úi. This is in turn replaced by cenél and, around the tenth century in Ireland, by clann (a little later in Scotland - the first being MacDuff in the eleventh century). The sixteenth century saw this replaced in both Ireland and Scotland by cinneadh.
The second element of a kindred name was always an historical figure and almost always male.

The Úi Néill (O'Neil) An Example In Naming Patterns.

Around AD400, the Dàl Cuinn (kindred of Conn) led by Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the nine hostages) began to expand at a rapid rate, as they do so they get a new name the Úi Néill.
The Úi Néill begin to move north and takeover much of northern and middle Ireland. The northern and southern branches then split into new kindreds all said to be named after sons of Niall and each one representing a tuath(tuath is cognate to Germanic "theod" (þéod in Old-English and þjóð is Old-Norse and Icelandic and is the same source for the word 'deutsch' and 'Dutch', it means 'people' or a 'nation') with a king. As a group one will be overking of the rest and be king of the northern or southern Úi Néill. The king of the northern or southern Úi Néill would also be king of the whole Úi Néill kindred.

Main kindreds of the Northern Úi Néill Cenél Eogain
Cenél Conaill
Cenél Enda
& others
Main kindreds of the Southern Úi Néill Cenél Leogaire
Cenél Maine
& others

What does the term Cenél Eogain mean?

Very few of them at the beginning of the sixth century can be direct descendents of Eogain, therefore they were people from the kindred which Eogain and family ruled over.

What happens to the people into whose territory they expand?

In many cases, they become so weak that they are absorbed into the incoming kindred, in others they remain in being but are subordinated to the incoming kindred. For instance the Airginalla were a subordinate kindred under the northern Úi Néill and were known as the "hostage givers". Some of the kindreds within the Airginalla became professional soldiers, indeed one the Úi macc-Uais were the main fighting arm of the Úi Néill.

So what has this to do with Scotland?

The kingdom of Dàl Riata established by the expansion from the kingdom of Dàl Riata on the Ulster coast across to the west coast of Scotland around the 500s, consisted of three kindreds:
Cenél nGabrain (Gabrain died in 558)
Cenél Loairn
Cenél nOengusa
As you can see there were no Úi kindreds, therefore the expansion of Dàl Riata into Scotland came after the Cenél naming pattern became productive.

Addressing your Rí (cognate to Latin 'rex', Sanskrit 'raj', Spanish 'Rey' and Germanic Swed-Norw 'rike', Dan, 'rig', Dutch 'rijk', OE, 'ríce' and High German 'Reich' all meaning kingdom or a polity. K.Doig

Around the tenth century there were two forms of address for the rí.
The first structured like Donald son of X son of X in Gaelic was Donald ua Donald. The ua would later become O' in Ireland.
The alternative form of ua was Donald mac meic Donald or Donald son of the son of Donald. Meic Donald would later became the form of address. Both ways existed in Scotland and Ireland, but this latter was most common in Scotland.
By the twelfth century the following structure is seen in the address of the rí:

Kindred Style of rí Surname
(last to come into being)
Clann Domnaill macDhomhnaill mac Domhnaill
The use of surnames came very late to Scotland, because of this, the period where the form O' had been productive was past, and the form mac was used instead.

Ewan J. Innes, MA(Hons Scot. Hist.) FSA Scot
© 1998 source
Synopsis: This essay describes the reason why other than nineteenth century migration, there are no O' surnames in Scotland, but there are Mac surnames in Ireland. This debunks the myth that Mac is Scottish and Mc is Irish.

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