[From 3rd Manx Scrapbook]



MOST of the names grouped under this heading are built up on the names of Celtic saints ; a few others terminate in adjectives. Such compounds were com-mon in the Northern parishes of the Isle of Man, where forenames in Gil- were also in use. Some of_ these surnames have gone, and left no trace in current nomenclature. Four or five survivors have retained a vestige of the " MacGil- " prefix in the form of " Myl-." From others the " Gil- " dropped out at a comparatively early stage, and later a. " C," " K," or " Qu " was all that remained of the " Mac." Of still others only the third term, representing the saint's name, has been preserved ; thus from MacGillowey we get Lowey, from MacGillowny, Looney, and so forth. In these the name has died down, as it were, to its root.

Gil- was a favourite prefix with the converted Norse pagans when renaming themselves at baptism or christening their male children. It has been identified with the Norse gisl, a pledge or hostage. If it was really Norse its great popularity, from the 11th century onward, among the Irish and Scots, is rather surprising. In Ireland especially it displaced the indubitably native prefix maol, " tonsured," the use of which had been brought over from pre-Christian times, and which therefore, of the two, is more often allied with secular adjectives or nouns. Like giolla (Gil-), it carried a sense of service or attachment in its earlier use, but with both this weakened later to a mere feeling of patronage by, or vague connexion with, the saint whose name followed. Preceding a personal epithet, such as "ruddy," " dark," " big," giolla meant simply a lad, a boy, without the idea of descent conveyed by mac. Maol was commoner in Irish names than in Scottish ; giolla (as gille) was at least as popular in Scotland as in Ireland. In Ireland ua (O'), signifying descent from, or more particularly grandson of, was prefixed to maol names ; in both Ireland and Scotland mac was similarly used before both maol and giolla, but giolla came too late to receive the O'. In the Isle of Man no name of this type shows unequivocal. traces of maol, though it may be suspected of one or two that they have undergone a change from maol to gil. A large proportion of the Manx MacGil- names probably reached the Island from Galloway and Cumbria. The type was not rare, even in the North of England, from the 11th to the 14th centuries; e.g. Ghile-Michel, -Brid, -Patair, -Crist and -Ander. All of these are found in Man in the 15th and 16th centuries, prefixed with Mac.

These surnames, then, consist of three parts :-(i) a saint's name or an adjective, as determinative ; (ii) giolla prefixed to it to make a secular name; (iii) mac prefixed to giolla to make a patronymic which became a family name when inherited. Whether the second stage developed in Scotland, Ireland, or Man, its significance depended on the religious conditions of the period. During the saint's lifetime it would describe his personal servant. When he was but a memory, the name might be given to one who had charge of the more or less sacred objects and places connected with the veneration of the holy man. For example :-Lunatics were brought from afar to be cured at the temple of St. "Molochus " in Lewis. The cure ended with a thorough sprinkling of the patient with water from St. Ronan's Well close by. " The water was formerly brought from the well in an old stone cup which was left in the keeping of a family regarded as the descendants of the 'clerk of the temple.' " The first man to be charged with these duties and the care of the well and its cup might be given the title of Gille-Mholoch or Gille-Ronain. He would be the head of the family who were the caretakers of the shrine, and his descendants would be named Mac-Gille-Mholoch or MacGille-Ronain. Thus a hereditary surname of this type would come into existence at the spot or in the neighbourhood, as it might at any other place where the saint was venerated.

Such special associations apart, a boy could be placed under the protection of any saint at any period by being christened Giolla so-and-so, especially if he were born on St. So-and-So's Day. In the same spirit, girls could be theoretically protected by a similar use of Ceilë. (With reference to a similar prefix in Man see under " Caly- " in the section on Fore-names, chap. vi.). The founder of an important church, or the traditional connexion of a saint with a spot, would naturally popularise this use of his name in the surrounding district. Hence the Gilcongal in Dumfries in the 12th century, modern Galloway McConnell, old Manx MacGilconill, MacGilhonylt and MacConylt, modern Manx Cannell. Hence, too, perhaps, Martin in the half-dozen forms which it has shown in the Island, and its prevalence in Ulster and the S.W. of Scotland, for which region of the British Isles St. Martin's Candida Casa, (Tigh Martain), at Whithorn was the earliest focus of Christianity.

Though the Irish giolla is gille in Sc. Gaelic I have, except in a few instances, used the spelling of the parent language for the sake of uniformity, and because it is not always possible to know where the original of a Manx name arose. Indeed, there is no reason why some names of this type should not have been coined about the same time in different countries.

It is noticeable that these tripartite surnames as recorded in the Lord's Rent Rolls later than that of 1511-15, in the Abbey Rent Rolls, and in the Bishop's Book, are usually spelt in the more worn-down forms with " Il," " Yl," or " El " instead of the " Gil " adopted as standard by the clerk of the first surviving Manorial Roll (1511-15). This difference may be due to a less academic spelling-system, which rendered fairly accurately the pronunciation of the time, rather than to the somewhat later dates.

It hardly need be said that the work done by Macbain, and since by Prof. W. J. Watson, on Scottish surnames, and by the Rev. Patrick Woulfe on those of Ireland, has been extremely helpful in regard to this and other classes of Manx names. Without such trustworthy guidance these cursory notes would have been slighter still.

MacAldonieh, MacIldoney. Mac-giolla-, or Mac-maol-, Domhnaich, son of the servant of the Church, or of the Lord. Cf. the former Mx forename Moldonny, Maoldonich in Scotland, whence the surname Mc oldonuich, 16th cent.; the Sc. McAldonichs were later merged into the Buchanans.

MacAldowy, MacIldowey. Mac-maol-, or Mac-giolla-, Dubhthaich ; Dubhthach of Armagh, 5th cent., was an Irish saint who laboured in the High-lands. In the obs. Mx place-names Kerroo-dowey, Andreas ; Mullen Doway, old name of Union Mills vi'lage, Braddan. McIndowy, 1607, Reg. Privy Cncl. Scotd., contains the same pers. epithet, " dark-complexioned."

MacAllure. Mac-giolla-uidhir ; genitive of odhay, sallow. Galloway McClure, McLure. McClure, Skye, has a different origin. In Bps. Bk. for 1586 " Allure " replaces " lean " scored out. If valid, Maclear might represent either uidhir or more probably (St.) Ibhar. A Mx MacCleare, unless an error for MacCreare, appears in an Indenture of 1532 (Statutes).

MacElhatton. Mac-giolla--Chatain. St. Catan of Bute and Perthshire was a contemporary of Colum Cille. From an early Gille-Chatain was named the Clan Chatain-McPhersons and McIntoshes.

MacElhinney. Mac-giolla-Chainnech ; (St.) Cain-nech or Coinnech, another contemporary of Colum Cille. McGilquhinye and Makilhinzee, 15th cent. Exchgr. Rolls of Scotd. Mx Quinney may have had this origin, through an unrecorded MacQuinney or something similar.

MacElhonick. Mac-giolla-Chonoc. Conoc (Kynauc) was a 6th-cent. British saint with a Gaelicised name. Old Galloway surname McIlquhonic. The obs. Mx Connock may derive hence, through a presumptive MacHonnic or MacConnock.

MacElhood. Probably Mac-giolla-Chuta. Machutus (Mo-Chuta) is the Latinized form of Maughold in Chron. Mann. and later. "In 1251 Gillecude was Dean of Kintyre ; here " code " may be short for Cuthbert, but it may represent Mo-Chüta of Rathin and Lismore, a famous Irish saint." (W. J. Watson.) From the latter alternative comes the In MacGilly-cuddy. MaeElhood seems to have been shortened to MacHud, later MacHood, 1780, finally Cudd, which survived till at least 1799 in Braddan (Mon. Inscr.).

MacElhoyle. Mac-giolla-Phail ; (St.) Paul. Mac-Coile, 1510, is probably a reduced form. Hoyle in Chaloner's Garrison, 1695, may have been English ; also Hoyle, Douglas, 1730, 1885 (Directories). Sc. and In Gilfoyle and Foyle.

MacElreesh, MacYlreesh. Mac-giolla-Bhris; Bricius, a 5th-cent. Gaulish saint with a Gaelicised name, which became popular in Scotland and Man. Hence Mx Bryce, 1417-8, Brice, Bris, 1510, or from Norse Bris. Mod. Sc. has both Bryce and McElfrish.

MacGilbaine, 1430. Bane, 1510-13 (St.) Beathan or Bean ; or ban, fair. MacBane, if it existed long enough, could have given the modern Quane. In Scotland the old McGillebane and later McIlvane are now McIlwaine, chiefly in Ayrshire and Galloway.

MacGilbeall, 1513 ; MacElveel, Bps. Bk. Mac giolla-Michil ; (St.) Michael. Or Mac-giolla-mhaoil, son of the tonsured youth. In either case there has been a wrong restoration of " B." Sc. McGilveil (Clan McMillan) ; Ir. Mulveel.

MacGilblalne, 1430, Blayne, 1540; obs. Blaan, Welsh Blathaon, was a British saint in Scotland. Sc. 16th-cent. names were MacGilblaan, Makblayne ; later Galloway McBlain, mod. Blain.

MacGilborr, 1513. Either St. Barra (Findbarr) of Cork, or an error (cf. MacGilbeall), for MacGilmorr-i.e. MacGilvorry, q.v. Gilmurr was a masc. forename at the same period, Gilvorr and MacVorr were surnames. Cf. Makgilvar, 1430, Loch Ryan.

MacGilbrid, 1513. See Brideson, page o0. (MacGilcharaine,) The early records of this name show no Gil- or equivalent ; e.g. MacCarrayne, 1422, MacCrayne, 1510-13 ; later it is regularly MacYl- to the second half of 18th century ; now Mylecharane. " Son of St. Ciaran's devotee or attendant." A well on Crammag, Lezayre, named after this saint suggests that the chapel near had the same dedication, and possibly the Mx family-name had a similar origin to that of the O'Maoilchiarans who were guardians of the saint's shrine at Clonmacnoise. But if its late appearance in its full form in Man is any guide, it entered ready-made from Scotland, where it was McIlcherran in Bute, 1696. In any case, most of the Mylecharanes probably became MacCraynes and are now Craines.

MacGilchrist, 1513. As usual in Man, the first two elements coalesced, and the name is now Mylchreest and Mylechreest, one of the few survivors of its type in anything like its original form. Creech, which might be a remnant of it, is more probably of English provenance. As a personal, not a family, name, it was borne by Gilchrist MacKerchar, who came to the Island in 1235 at the behest of the King of Norway, and there were other examples in Scotland still earlier. In Ireland it is less common, except in the part of Ulster influenced by Scotland.

MacGilcobraght, 1513 ; MacYlcobrough, 1592. Anne Ylcobrought, 1619. From the Gaelic form of St. Cuthbert. Obsolete unless any of the present Mx Coopers owe their name to it. In Scotland it dates, as a single name, to at least 1177, when a cleric named Gillequdberit was Dean of Fife.

MacGilcolum, 1430, MacGilcalm, and Gilcalm as a forename, 1513, Macylcolum, c. 1600. St. Columba (Columcille). Kirk Arbory was formerly dedicated to him.

MacGilconill, 1422, Statutes, MacLyonyll, 1422, Mx SOc., iii., 76 ; apparently the same man ; MacGilhonylt, Macllonylt, MacConylt, all 1510-13 ; MacGilhonyld, 1540. Mac giolla-Congall. St. Congall was a disciple of St. Kentigern ; Welsh Conguall, later Cynwall, Scottish Conall, as in Kirkconnel, Kirkcud-brightshire. Hence, e.g., Gilleconil, c. 1180, McGilleconil, 1296, in Galloway; now McConnell (Watson). The Mx surname probably yielded some Cannells ; cf. Conill, 1611. For the addition of " t " to the above name compare " Donald " for Domhnall.

MacGilcowle,1513 ; Macylchole, 1592. (St.) Comgall; doubtless Comgall the Great, of Bangor, 6th century. MacCowle and MacCole, also 1513, probably yielded the modern Cowle, and, partly, Cowell.

MacGilhast, 1513, 1538, MacElhast, 1596. A possible offshoot was MacCash, 1513, Cash, MacCashe, Ine Casse, 1540, in the same neighbourhood as MacGilhast. Perhaps from the Irish St. Cass. Cas, " curly," also " active." The Irish name Kilcash is from this source. But the final " t " in MacGilhast is not easy to account for after " s," and perhaps Giolla-chast-cast, pure-would suit better, provided the adj. was sufficiently current. Ric. Gilcaste was Rector of Holcombe-by-Mendip, Somerset, in 1515.

MacGilhaws, 1429 ; MacGilhacosse, apparently the same man ; " co " an error for " w " ? Mac-giolla Tamhais, (St.) Thomas. Sc. MacGilhoise, 1479, modern McLehose. The obs. and extant Mx Kemmish, Kevish, Kevish, in a riot of spellings, appear to contain " Hamish " (Sheamus), i.e. James. Cf. McHeamische, 1616-19, keg. Privy Cncl. Scotd.

MacGillander, MacGylandere, MacGillondras, Gillander, 1429-30; all Gibbon and probably the same man; MacGilander, MacGillandrew, 1513. Running parallel with these are Andrew, 1408, MacAndras, 1417, MacAndrew, 1513, Andrewe, 1540 ; later Condra and Cunder ; now very rare as Conder. An Anderson, who may have been English, was the Earl of Derby's Junior Steward in 1495, and the name appears in Maughold in mid 18th cent. and in Malew in 1791, and is extant. Connections are wanting, so far as I know, with the first Anderson and with MacAndrew.

MacGillanny, 1504, 1510, possibly represents Mac-giolla-Seanaich, (St.) Seanach or Seanchan. Mcllshenoch, McIlshannoch and McIlschenoch, South Kintyre, ca. 1604 (Watson). These, however, all retain the initial of the saint's name, and the Irish saint Mo-Chonda or Chonda, contemporary and kinsman of Columcille, might also be considered. Another form of his name was To-Channu, thy Canna. This was the St. Dachonna whose shrine, probably on Peel Island, was raided by Norsemen in 797 (Annals of Ulster).

MacGilleon, 1513, ?Leave, Leaine, 1634. (St.) John ; Sc. Edin. See next item.

MacGillewne, 1513, MacGillewn, 1540. (St.) John; In Eõin. Cf. MacCloyne, 1540, Clewing, 1575. Also Luyn, 1589, Lewin, Lewne, 1611, Lewin, 1634 ; later Lewinge ; modern Lewin. But Lewin is also an English name.

MacGillowe, 1513, MacGillow, 1540. Makgillowe, 1553, Reg. Gt. Seal of Scotd. See next item. MaeGillowy, MacLowey, 1510, Mackelewe, 1540, Collewy, 1756 ; now Lowey. An earlier form would be helpful. The name of the Sc. 6th-cent. saint, Lughaidh or Lua, was always prefixed with Mo-," my," as in Malew (Mo-Lua). There were Ir. saints called Mo-Choe, and Sc. saints called Mo-Chua. The Mc- was usually dropped from hereditary surnames, and without it any of these saints' names could have provided the base of MacGillowey. It might also be an aspirated form of MacIldowey above ; i.e. Mac-giolla-Dhuibhthach.

MacGillowny, 1498, Gilownie, MacLawney, 1504, MacGillowney, 1513, Lownye, 1540, MacLowny, Loony, 1603, MacLony, Lowney, 1611, Launey, 178o ; now Looney. From Mac-giolla-Dhomhnaigh, son of the servant of the Church, or of Sunday. The attributive was frequently prefixed with maol to form a name in Ireland and Scotland, and in this case giolla may have been substituted for maol at some stage, in conformity with changing fashion in names, the meaning remaining the same. Two Mx forenames formerly in use, Malloney or Malooney (masc.), and Calyhoney (fem.), come under this heading.

MacGilmartin. See Corteen, chap. iii.

MacGilmere, MacEmere, Ine Mere, Gilmere as a forename, all 1513. Afterwards in various forms, apparently with an article, of which Macnemeer, 1740, is a type ; finally Monier (stressed on ultimate), then obs. in the Island since mid 19th cent. Mac-giolla-meadhair, son of the joyous youth, would be fairly satisfactory as an ante-type for MaeGilmere. But it may be suspected that two distinct names have been confused, of which one may be, in Mx spelling, Mac-y-Meoir, son of the Steward. Cf. the McAmhaoirs in Glen Orchy, formerly stewards to the Buchanans, and the Mac-an-Mhaoir family who had charge of the Book of Armagh at Ballymoyer.

MacGilpeder, 1510. (St.) Peter. Pete became a popular name too late to make this compound common anywhere.

MacGilrea, 1513, was then plentiful in the North of the Island, with a single MacGilroy contiguous. The terminal vowel has varied so widely-e.g., Mac-Illiriah in 16th and 17th cents.-that it seems possible there was only the one name originally, equivalent to Mac-giolla-yiabhach, son of the brindled youth. In Galloway this was MacGillereue in 1299, McIlreevy, Gilrea, Gillray, etc., since, in Scotland and Ireland. Mylrea is now fairly common in Man, Mylroie very rare. If the latter is to be distinguished, no doubt it began as Mac-giolla-ruadh ; ruadh, ruddy.

MacGilvorra, 1513. Mac-giolla-Mhuire (Mary). The name is traceable through a dozen variants down to the present Mylvorrey (rare), and Morrison. It may have produced Murray also, but that appeared in-dependently, in any case. Although written Mac-Ylworrey in 1598, the full form persisted as well into the 18th cent. An offshoot Maclvory, 1570, later MacVorry, suggested that the extant Quarrie was thus produced, and not from MacGuaire as in Scotland. Cognate with MaeGilvorra appears to be MacGilborr, 1513, with a wrong restoration of the initial as in MacGilbeall for MacGilmeall-Michil, Michael. The connexion is rendered more likely by the existence of MacVorr and the forename Gilmurr in 1513. Other-wise MacGilborr and its shortening MacVorr might be explainable by the name of St. Barra or Findbarr of Cork.

MacLymean, 1513, if correct (there is only one instance), may stand for Mac-giolla-Mian ; Mian as an affectionate shortening of Michael. Cf. Keeill Vian, St. Michael's Chapel. In Scotland Michin was used in the same way ; Gillemichin was a forename in Atholl in 1622. Later there were the corresponding surnames McMyane and McIlveen in the Highlands, McMichan and McMeekin in Galloway.

MacYlchoan, MacElhone, c. 1600. Mac-giolla-Chomhghain. St. Comgan was an Irish saint venerated in Scotland, where the name Gilla Comgan is recorded in 11th cent., and the family names McGillochoane in 16th cent., Mclllechoan in 17th. In both Scotland and Ireland it has become McCowan and Cowan in some cases. Also MacHone (very rare) in U.S., probably extinct in British Isles. As McElhone it still exists in Belfast.

MacYlvandy. See Vondy, chap. iii.

A few other Manx names, which may originally have incorporated the word giolla, may be briefly touched on.

MacClewage, MacCluag-e, 1510, now Clague, may have been Mac-giolla-Luáig. Luáig was another of the many variants of Lughaidh (see MacGillowy).

MacCoag, and Coke if not the Eng. name, may be Mac-giolla-Dhog with the middle term omitted, as was often done. Dõc was a shortening of the name of St. Cadoc of Llancarvan who laboured in the South of Scotland. Modern Sc. Doag, Doak and Doig.

MacLolan, 1510, was probably a condensed form of Mac-giolla followed by either Faolan or Lolan. St. Lolan, one of the many Brito-Scottish saints of the 6th cent., is believed to have completed his training at Whithorn. With regard to a derivation from Faolan, Prof. Watson mentions a MacGillelane or McGillolane, and a McLellan, both in Galloway, in the 14th cent. ; also the Clan Illeulan. The modern representatives of this name, however, are McLellan (with variations), and Gilfillan.


Coring ; MacQuartag, 1513. (See pages 106 and 147.) Another possible source of this curious name is the In O'Fathartaigh or O'Faghaytaigh, with Mac substituted for " O." An aspirated final " g " was occasionally de-aspirated in personal names.

Cosnahan. On further consideration I feel inclined to revert to a former opinion, in preference to that dubiously suggested in chap. iii. In Scotland, whence the Mx Cosnahans traditionally came, the name of Constantine has been remembered since the time of the 6th cent. Cornish-born Ab of Govan, on the Clyde. Being a foreign word, it has been almost as ingeniously tortured in that country as in the Isle of Man. A Gille-constentin in Dunfermline, 1230, and a place called Kilchousland (Macbain and Watson) show that St. Constantine's name passed into popular currency in the usual ways ; but it seems to have become a Gaelicised surname in the simpler form of McCoiseam, which Macbain records as extant in Skye. Cousland will be recognised as very close to the old colloquial Mx pronunciation of Cosnahan : "Cushlan."

Quilleash. Since my former remarks on this name were in type I have come across a calendared quit-claim in the 4th Report of the Histl. MSS. Commn., Appx., page 576, which supplies an instance of Felis as a surname in the East of Ireland in 1344, whence it could easily have reached the Isle of Man. It was probably of English origin. " Quieta clamancio johannis Felis facta Robineto Bernard de duabus acris in Dyuelek. Kilkeruaan, 17 Ed. III." (Viscount Gormanston's MSS.) Dyuelek is presumably Duleek in Co. Meath. The Sc. Culeis, etc., mentioned earlier in this chapter therefore probably resemble the Mx forms by accident only. There was in fact a place named Cullece, a barony near Perth, which perhaps accounts for the name of John Cullas of Menmure, a witness at Forfar in 1453. This would be too early to represent MacGilliosa or MacMaoliosa.

Felis, to which " Mac " was prefixed in Man (now Quilleash), occurred in Yorks., also as Fyllysson, in 1379 ; Phillis in Oxford in 1564. (Bardsley, Dict. of Surnames.) Phillishayes farm in Upottery parish, Devon, was Fylys-hers in 1420. " The first element is probably that of a medieval owner." (Place-names of Devon, E.P.N. Sec., p. 651.) It was evidently a sporadic surname, probably from a fore-name.


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