[From ManxNoteBook vol i,1885]

Decorative heading - Double corner, Douglas Quay
Manx Surnames IN




TREATING OF THE SURNAMES DERIVED FROM PERSONAL OR " CHRISTIAN " NAMES" it will be convenient, though not quite in accordance with the order of historical sequence, to begin with those which are formed from the Biblical and Hagiological names imported by the early Christian missionaries. These names were in very frequent use in Ireland and the Isle of Mann. It is important to observe that while the names of saints were themselves given in baptism, they more frequently gave rise to secondary Christian names formed by prefixing the word Giolla "servant."* the name of JOHN (Eoin) became a common Christian name amongst the Celts, but its derivative Giolla Eoin, " John's servant," was still more generally used. Both these classes of names have contributed to the list of Manx Surnames. For instance, while the descendants of Eoin were called MACEOIN, and ultimately KEWIN, the descendants of GIOLLA-EOIN are known by the corrupted surnames GELLING and LEWIN. As has been already stated in the first chapter, the combination Macgiolla has been in many cases contracted into Myl. In other instances it has disappeared altogether, so that it is sometimes uncertain whether a particular surname is derived from a primary Christian name or from the secondary name formed upon it. In the following list we shall endeavour. where documentary evidence is forthcoming to distinguish between these two modes of derivation, and the family names formed from a secondary Christian name will be placed after those formed from the corresponding primary name.

For explanatory note see page 89.
* Feminine Christian names were often formed in a corresponding manner by the use of the prefix caitleach, " a nun or female servant,"which is usually corrupted into calli, as C
ALLIVORRY, Mary's nun; CALLICHRIST, "Christ's nun. "

LUCAS, the same name as LUKE, was formerly common in the Isle of Mann, but, since the middle of the 17th century, it has been almost entirely superseded by CLUCAS.

LUCAS [1429].

CLUCAS, contracted from MacLucais, ' Luke's son,' is a purely Manx name.

MACLUCAS [1511], CLUCAS [1643], CLUGAS [1655].

Jurby, Marown (vc), Braddan, Maughold, Malew, Santon, Rushen (c), elsewhere (u).

KISSACK, contracted from MacIsaac, ' Isaac's son,' is rarely found except in the Isle of Mann. GILBERT MCISSAK was one of the 24 " Keys of Mann" in 1417, and in 1422 HAWLEY M'ISSACKE "was arraigned for that he felloniously rose upon John Walton, Lieutenant of Mann, sitting in the Court of Kirk Michaell."* Compare-(Gaelic) M'ISAAC, M`KISSACK; (English) ISAACS, ISAACSON.

MCISSAK [1417], M`ISSACKE, MCKISSAG [1422], MACKISSAGE [1429], M`ISACKE, M`ISAACKE [1430], M`ISAACK [1504], KISSAGE [1486], KISSACK [1499], KYSSAGGE [1601], KISSAG, KISSAIGE [1610], KYSAIGE [1629].

Santon (vc), Ballaugh, Lezayre, Michael, Braddan, Malew (c), elsewhere (u).

*Statute Law Book, p. 200.

KEWIN, contracted from MacEoin, John's son.'

In the province of Ulster the English family of Bissett, seated in the Glius, in the County of Antrim, assumed the Irish surname of MACEOIN, MAKEON, from an ancestor HUAN, or JOHN, Bissett."+

PATRICK MCION was one of the 24 "Keys of Mann" in 1417. (This name is wrongly spelt MCGON in the Statute Law Book).

In the Charter of the Bishopric of Mann, A.D. 1505, we find "Confirmation of Churches, Lands and Liberties, given, granted, and made by the most noble Lord Thomas, Earl of Derby, Lord Stanley, Lord of Mann and the Isles, to HUAN, Bishop of Sodor and to his successors."++ Compare-(Irish) KEON, McKEON, McKEOWN, and McKEOWIN; (Gaelic) McEWEN; (Welsh) BEVAN.

MACION [1417], MCJOHN [1429], M'KEWNE [1404], McKEWN [1511], KEWYNE [1440], KEWEN [1609], KEWN [1671], KEWNE [1672], KEWIN [1700], KEON [1714], KEOIN [1732]

Jurby, Patrick, Andreas, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

+O'Donovan Introduction, p. 24. ~
++Manx Society, Vol. IX. p. 27.

GELLING, contracted from Giolla Eoin, 'John's servant.'

" Death of Niall, son of GILLAN, after having been thirty years without food or drink," A.D. 856.* " MagGELAIN, Bishop of Kildare" A.D. 1222+ Compare -(Gaelic and Irish) MACGILLEAN, MACLEAN, and MACKLIN. It is a purely Manx name. MACGILLEON, MACGILEWNE, GELLEN [1511] GELLYNE [1540], GELLIN [1622], GELLING [1626].

Braddan, Onchan, Marown, Malew, (vc), German (c), elsewhere (u)

* Chron. Scot., p. 155.
+ Four Mact, Vol. III. p. 203.

LEWIN has precisely the same origin as GELLING, but the Giolla has only transferred 'l' to eoin instead of Gill. It is a purely Manx name. McGlLLEON, MACGILLEWNE [1511], LEWIN [1627], LEWNE [1628], LEWN [1629], LEWEN [1698]. Lewen is found in Domesday Book, but in that case is probably a corruption of Leofwine.

Braddan (vc), Onchan (c), elsewhere (u),

QUANE, contracted from MacShane, 'Johnson,' " MACSHANE A.D. 1542.*

It may possibly be a contraction of MacGnane from Macdubhaine.
MACDUBHAINE who has spread stories

"Over the bright fine Cinel-Enda."+

It is purely a Manx name.

Compare (Irish) QUAIN (Gaelic) MACQUEEN. This latter is very common in Galloway.

MACQUAINE [1429], MACQUANE, MACQUENE [1511], MACQUAYNE [1540], QUAINE [1599], QUANE [1680] .

Andreas, Bride, Patrick, German (c), elsewhere (u).

* Four Mast., Vol. IV. p. 65.
+ O'Dubhagain p. 43.

KILLIP, contracted from MacPhilip, 'Philip's son.'

Compare (Gaelic and Irish) McKILLOP (English) PHILLIPS, PHIPPS.

M'KILLIP [1430], MCKILLIP [1511], MCKILLOP, KILLOP [1540], KILLIP [1604].

Ballaugh, Lezayre, Malew, German, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

QUARK, probably contracted from McMark, though it may have been the same name as QUIRK originally. It was the commoner name in the Isle of Mann 200 years ago, but now QUIRK has almost entirely superseded it.

MARKESON [1408], MCQUARKE [1511], QUARKE [1616], QUARK [1649].

CAMMAISH and COMISH, contracted from MacHamish, 'James's son,' or possibly from MacHomase, Thomas's son.' COMMAISH looks more like the former, COMISH the latter. Compare- - (Irish) MACCOMAS (Gaelic) MACOMISH.

The form CAMMAISH is more common in the North and COMISH in the South of the Island, but the name is not so often met with as formerly. MACCOMISH [1430], MACCOMIS, MACCOMAIS [1511], COMISH [1650], CAMISH [1676], CAMAISH [1704], CAMMAISH [1704].

Andreas, Bride, Maughold, Arbory (vc), Jurby, Santon, Malew (c), elsewhere (u).

SHIMMIN, from McSim-een, 'little Simon's son.' " Dermot MACSIMON slain, A.D. 1366*.

Fraser, Lord Lovat who was born in 1666, was called MACSHIMI Baldu, the black spotted son of Simon, from a black spot on his upper lip. Excepting Maughold the name is almost confined to the Southern parishes.

Compare-(Gaelic) MCSYMON; (English) SYMONDS, SIMMONS, SYMONS, SIMPSON, *SYMONDSON, and SIMPKINSON, which latter exactly corresponds with it.


Malew, German (vc), Maughold, Arbory, Santon, Rushen (c), elsewhere (u).

*Four Mast.,Vol.III.,p.633.

KNICKELL, contracted from MacNichol, 'Nicholas's son.' lt was formerly a Common name in the Ise of Mann, but has now almost disappeared.

Compare-(Gaelic) MCNICHOL; (English) NICHOLSON, NICHOLLS.

MACKNAYKYLL [1429], MCNAYKILL, MCNAKILL, MCNAIKELL [1430], KNACLE [1648], KNICKELL [1650], KNIKALL [1653], KNEACLE [1674], KNEAKIL [1730], KNACKLE [1757], KNICOL [1758], NICOL [1771].

Formerly, Patrick (vc), German, Lezayre, Maughold, Malew, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

MARTIN, originally MacGiolla Martin, 'the son of Martin's servant.'

ST. MARTIN of Tours was St. Patrick's uncle. He died A.D. 448*


Andreas (vc), Lezayre, Patrick, Santon (c), Bride, Jurby, (u). Hardly found elsewhere.

* Four Mast., Vol. I., p. 129.

COSTAIN and COSTEAN, contracted from MacAusteyn, a shortened form of MacAugustin, 'Augustin's son.' (Augustin is the diminative of Augustus). The fame of AUGUSTINUS of Hippo, and his namesake, the missionary of the English, would cause this name to be a favourite among Christian converts.

Magnus Barfod, King of Norway, who died A.D. 1103, had a son OSTEEN and a grandson, son of Harold Gyllie, OSTEN.

COSTAIN and COSTEAN are purely Manx names.


Maughold (vc), Rushen, Arbory, Santon, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

STEPHEN and STEPHENSON, from the protomartyr are, in the Isle of Mann, very frequently the translations of COSTAIN which, however, has quite a different origin (see above).

STEAN, which has now disappeared, if not a shortened form of Stephen, may be from (O N) Steinn 'stone.' Compare-Dutch STEEN.

In A.D. 1334, GILBERT MAKSTEPHAN was one of the commissioners appointed by Edward III* " to seize the aforesaid Island (Mann), with its appurtenances into our hands."

[note the following section was actually printed in No4 p130 but put back here]

*MAKSTEPHAN [1334], STEPHEN [1408], STEVENSON [1417], STEPHAN, STEANE [1598], STEPHENSON [1643], STEVEN [1676], STEAN [1640], STAIN [1665], STEEN [1722], STEON [1726].

STEPHEN-Ballaugh (vc), Jurby, Lezayre (c), elsewhere (u).
TEPHENSON-Arbory, German, (c), elsewhere (u).
TEAN-Ballaugh, Jurby, Braddan, formerly (c), now extinct.

*Manx Society, Vol. VII. p. 181.

[The remaining Surnames in this section will be given in the next number.]



The Surnames are in small capitals and their derivations in Italics. All words in any language but English are in Italics. The dates in square brackets are the earliest, as far as can be ascertained, at which they are found in the Insular records. The date (1511) being that of the earliest rent roll of the Sheadings of Rushen, Middle, and Garff, is to be considered to stand also for '15l5,' the date of the earliest rent roll of the remaining three sheadings. No dates are given after the end of the 18th century. The following abbreviations are made use of:- vc, very common, c, common, u, uncommon, w, wanting, refer to the comparative distribution of the various names in the respective parishes before the present century. (For this purpose a careful analysis of all the Parish Registers (17) has been made.)


Four Mast.-For Annals of Four Masters.
Chron. Scot.-For Chronicon Scotorum.
O'Dubhagain and O'hindhrin-For the Topographical Poems by those authors.
O'Donovan Introduction-For the Introductory account of Irish surnames given by the Editor of the above poems.




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