[From ManxNoteBook vol iii,1887]

Manx Surnames


EARLY IN THE NINTH CENTURY a great emigration from Scandinavia began It took two directions, one the Danish to the north-east of England, the other the Norse to the coasts of the Shetlands, Orkneys, Northern Scotland, the Western Isles, Ireland, and the Isle of Mann. In the year 852 (A.D.) the Norse sea king, Olave the White, reached Ireland with a large fleet and founded a Norse principality at Dublin. At the same period the Isle of Mann must also have received numerous Norse colonists, but they do not seem to have been strong enough to subdue the native inhabitants till a later date. Most of the Scandinavian names in the Isle of Mann have had the Celtic 'Mac' prefixed, the contraction of which has very much altered their form. These names are not so common now as they were in the 16th century.

CASEMENT, contracted from Mac-ás-Mundr. The (O.N.) ás is equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon ôs i.e. semideus, which we find in such names as OSWALD and Oswy.

'Mundr was the sum the bridegroom had to pay for his bride as agreed on at the espousals. it is used as the latter part of several proper names.'*

Compare (O.N.) AS-MUNDR found in the Landnámabóc, and Flateyjarbóc.


It is almost confined to the northern parishes. It is not so common now as formerly.
Maughold, Lezayre (vc) formerly, Jurby, Ballaugh, Andreas (c), elsewhere (u).

* Cleasby and Vigfusson Icelandic Dictionary, P. 437.
[fpc based on info given by a Casement descendant: If the word ever had that meaning, then not in Old Norse when forenames such as Ásmundr came into existence. Mundr is the same as the Old English mund, Old High German munt, which survives in the German words Vormund meaning a guardian and Mündl a ward. It is etymologically closely related to Latin manus, hand, and probably originally meant that (cf. Icelandic), later the protection that the hand offers: tutelage or guardianship.]

CASTELL and CAISTELL, contracted from Mac-as-Ketill.* Ketill is equivalent to the English kettle. In the Icelandic poets of the tenth century the uncontracted form was used, but in the eleventh it began to be contracted into Kel. Its frequent occurrence in nomenclature doubtless arises from the use of the Vé-kell or 'Holy Kettle' at sacrifices. Cumming reads 'OSKETIL'+ on the fragment of a cross in the Museum at Distington, which was formerly at Kirk Michael, but Dr. Vigfusson makes this name 'ROSCIL'++; and Worsaae speaks of the well known Scandinavian name ASKETIL' being 'found on the remains of a runic inscription in the Museum at Douglas,'§ but this refers to the same stone, as 'Douglas' should be 'Distington.'

ASKELL is found in the Flateyjarbóc; OSCYTYL was Abbot of Croyland in A.D. 992, and ASKEL, king of Dublin in A.D. 1159.

'Our beloved and faithful Gilbert MACASKEL.'**
To Gilbert MAKASKILL, Keeper of the Isle of Man.'++

Compare (O.N.) ASKETIL, ASKELL, (English) ASKETIL, ASKETEL, (found in the Hundred Rolls), KETTLE, CASTLE, (Gaelic) GASKELL.

MACASKEL [1311], MAKASKILL [1312], CAISTIL [1699], CAISTILL, [1725], CASTIL [1733], CASTELL [1750], CASTLE [1789].

It is now hardly found anywhere, though formerly common in Bride, to which parish it was almost confined.

* For as, see CASEMENT.
+ Cumming, Runic Remains.
++ Manx Note Book, No. 9, pp. 15-18
§ Worsaae, 'The Danes and Northmen, P. 283.
** Manx Society, Vol. VII., p. 153.
++ Manx Society, Vol. VII.. p. 154

COTTIER and COTTER (pronounced COTCHIER), contracted from MacOttarr, 'Ottar's son.' The Norse name, OTTARR, seems to be formed from Otta 'twilight,' and the ending hari, which probably means 'sword.' In Anglo-Saxon spelling it is OHTHERE. The voyages of a Norseman so named are related in King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of Orosius. At Kirk Braddan there is a cross read by Dr. Vigfusson as follows:-UTR : RISTI : CRUS ÞONO : AFT : FROCA 'Odd raised this cross to the memory of Froca .' and he remarks 'Ut probably represents the Icelandic Odd, though this is not certain.'* Under A.D. 1098, we find in the Chronicon Manniae, that "A battle was fought between the Manxmen at Santwat, and those of the North obtained the victory. In this engagement were slain the Earl OTHER and Macmaras, leaders of the respective parties."+

'MACOTTIR, one of the people of Insi Gall (the Hebrides), A.D. 1142,¤
OTTAR was king of Dublin, A.D. 1147.
OTTARR is common in the Flateyjarbóc.
COTTER is the usual form till the middle of the eighteenth century, when it was generally supplanted by COTTIER, which is now almost invariably the form used. Tradition has it that two Hugenot families called COTTIER escaped from France at the time of the massacre of St. Bartholemew, 1572, and that their descendants settled in Lezayre. The name COTTIER, however, or rather MACCOTTIER, was found here before that date, but still it is possible that its origin may not be the same as that of COTTER.

OTER, OTHER [1098], MACOTT' (?) [1417], MACCOTTER and MACCOTTIER [1504], COTTIER [1616], COTTER [1625], COTTAR [1647].

Lezayre (vc), Ballaugh, Marown, Braddan, Maughold, Rushen, Onchan, Malew, Arbory, German, Santon, Bride, Michael (c), elsewhere (u).

* Manx Note Book, No. 9, p. 16.
+ Chronicon Manniae, Manx Society, Vol. XXII, p. 58.
¤ Four Mast., Vol. ll., p. 169.

[FPC however in Historical Manuscripts Commission printed volume of the Collection of MSS of Dean and Chapter of Wells (vol ii) is following:

Account of Edmund Archer STP, 1726-7 payments "2s 6d to Dennis Cotar and seven other Frenchmen of the Mermaid, cast away on the Isle of Man"]

CORKHILL, contracted from Mac-Pór-Ketill. § þórr the God of thunder, the keeper of the hammer, the destroyer of evil spirits,the son of mother earth, was the favourite Deity of the North. Cumming reads ÞURKETIL on a cross in Kirk Braddan, but Dr. Vigfusson makes it ÞURLIBR.**

In the annals of Roger de Hoveden we read under date A.D. 1044 that 'the noble Matron Gunhilda . . . with her two sons, Hemming and TURKILL, was expelled from England.'*
Bishop THORGIL took part in Haco's expedition in A.D. 1263.
Both ÞORKELL and ÞORGILs are common in the Landnámabóc, and Flateyjarbóc.

'Donald MACCORKYLL was Rector of the Church of St. Mary of Balylagh in 1408,'+ and 'Edward CORKHILL one of the Deemsters of Mann' in 1532.++,


MACCORKYLL [1408], MACCORKILL [1430], MCCORKELL, CORKELL [1511], CORKHILL [1532], CURRELL [1632], CORKILL [1650], CORKIL [1652].

Ballaugh, Maughold, German, Lezayre, Michael, Santon, Andreas (c), elsewhere (u)

** Manx Note Book, No. 9, p. 16.
* Manx Society, Vol. IV., P. 37.
+ Manx Society, Vol. IV., P. 247.
++ Statute Law Book, p. 29.

CORLETT (sometimes pronounced CURLEOD), is from the (O.N.) personal name Þorljótr, (the initial c representing the Celtic prefix Mac.) The word 1jótr means 'deformed,' or ' ugly,' but that can scarcely be its meaning in this compound. Dr. Vigfusson thinks that ljót is the same as the old Teutonic leðd, 'people.' It is not found by itself in the Landnámabóc, though, in combination with Þórr it is common there. In the Flateyjarbóc, written two centuries later, this compound name occurs twice. Ljótr is found on the cross in the old church-yard at Ballaugh in combination with Liut, as LIUTWOLF§.

'The name Thor has always been thought to sound well and is much used in proper names. Þorljótr is found in many runic stones in Denmark. The MACLEODS in Scotland have always claimed a Scandinavian origin and their name is probably from Mac ljótr, the Þor not having been inserted.'** "The MACLEODS of Cadboll and the MACLEODS of Lewis not only quarter the Manx trie cassyn (three legs,) but use the same motto quocunque jeceris stabit, which, I think, clearly points out that the chiefs of that name are descendants from the Norwegian sovereigns of Mann and the Isles, or some other Manx connection."++

In the parishes of Ballaugh and Lezayre nearly one fourth part of the population are CORLETTS.
Compare (Welsh) LLOYD.

CORLETT [1504], MACCORLEOT [1511], MACCORLEAT [1521], CURLEOD [1600], CORLOD [1629], CURLED [1666], CORLEOD [1677], CORLOT [1678], CORLET [1618].

Ballaugh, Lezayre, Bride, Andreas (vc), Jurby, Malew, Rushen, German, Michael, Braddan, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

* Manx Note Book, No. 9, Pp. 11-12.
** Cleasby and Vigfusson, P. 743.
++Oswald, in Manx Society, Vo1. V., P. 7.
[fpc - the useof the motto is not clear and I suspect incorrect - it only appeared in Mann on the Murrey Penny of 1688]

COWLEY, and KEWLEY (pronounced COWLAH and KEOLAH), contracted from MacAulay, the shortened form of MacAmhlaibh, 'Anlaf's or Olaf's son.'

The Scandivavian name ANLEIFR, ALEFER, OLAFR was rendered by ANLAF in the Saxon Chronicle, and by AMHLABH in the Irish Chroniclers; thus RIGH AMHLAB was King Olave the White in Dublin. We have it in the form AULAFIR* on the cross at Kirk Michael, and on the cross at Ballaugh in the curious form OULAIBR, which Dr. Vigfusson says is unique. OLAF was a royal name in Mann and must at one time been common.

The derivation from OLAF seems most probable; but it so happens that the native Irish name AMHALGHADA was also pronounced AULAY.

Aumond M'OLAVF- was Bishop of Mann from A.D. 1077-1100, and in 1102 OLAVE, son of Godred Crovan, commenced his reign.

'Finn MACAULAY killed A.D. 1178.'+

ÓLÁFR was a favourite proper name in the North, and was common both in the Landnámabóc and the Flateyjarbóc. Some of our COWLEYS may be of English origin, but KEWLEY is a purely Manx name.

In the parishes where COWLEY is common, KEWLEY is rare, and vice versa.

MACCOWLEY [1564], COWLEY [1587], KEWLEY [1611], COWLAY [1626].

COWLEY-Lezayre, Ballaugh, Maughold (c), elsewhere (u).
KEWLEY-Braddan, Marown, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

* Manx Note Book, No. 9, PP. 12-13
+ Four Mast.

CRENNELL, and CRELLIN (the latter by metathasis from the former) were both probably contracted from MacRaitnall or MacRaghnaill, ' Reginald's son.' RAGHNALL is the Celtic form of the common Scandinavian name ROGNVALDR, (rögn, a collective name for the Gods, is a frequent commencement of proper names, and valdr, 'ruler,' is equally common as an ending.) It was not common in Ireland till the thirteenth century.

Godfrey MACMicRAGNAILL, king of Dublin, A.D. 1075.'*
RÖGNVALDR occurs in the Flateyjarbóc.
REGINALD or RAGNVALD was the name of several of the Kings of Mann.
Andrew REYNESSON was one of the Keys who signed the Indenture in 1417.

'Brian, the son of Gilcreest MACRANNALL.'+

John CRELLIN was a lieutenant in Peel Castle in 1610.

CRELLIN appears to be a purely Manx name, but, as in COTTIER, there is a tradition of French origin, which, in this case, is said to be from the noble family of DECRILLON. It is remarkable that in the parishes where CRELLIN is common, CRENNELL is scarcely found, and vice versa.

MACREYNYLT [1511], CRENILT [1627], CRYNILT [1639], CRENYLT [1640], CRENIEL [1642], CRENNIL [1646], CRINNELL [1651], CRENIL [1702], CRENNELL, [1715], CRELLIN [1610], CRILLIN [1702], CRELLING [1730].

CRENNELL-Bride, Andreas (vc), Maughold (c), elsewhere (u).
CRELLIN-German (vc), Michael, Patrick, Arbory (c), elsewhere (u).

* Annals of Ulster.
+ Four Mast., Vol. III., P. 547 

CRINGLE, possibly from (O.N.) KRINGLE, which is found as a nickname in the Landnámabóc (Kringla, 'a circle').

CRINGLE [1641], CRINGAL [1672], KRINGEL [1774].
It is very uncommon.

GARRET, contracted from (O.N.) Geirrauðr. The first element in this name is geirr, 'spear.' The ending rauðr in proper names has been supposed by Professor Bugge to have been derived by several successive corruptions from frid, 'peace,'

GEIROÐR occurs twice in the Flateyjarbóc. It mayalso be from (O.N.) GEIRVALDR, which corresponds exactly to GERALD, or, in some cases, it might come from the Celtic MACART: cf. BALLYMACARRET, 'MacArt's town.

Several GERRARDS were governors of the Isle of Mann.

'GARRET, Earl of Desmond,'* A.D. 1360.

GARRETT [1586], GERRARD [1592], CARRETT [1600], CARRET [1610], CARRAT [1644], GARRAD [1677], GARRET [1661], CARRAD [1679], KARRET [1648], KARRETT [1608], KARRAD [1701].

It is spelt in the Registers with G, C, and K, indifferently, but the former predominates.

Andreas (vc), Bride, Jurby, Maughold, Michael, Lezayre, German, Ballaugh, (c), elsewhere (u).

CHRISTIAN has come to us from Iceland, in the form of KRISTIN. The Celtic Mac was prefixed to it and then it gradually became anglicised into its present form.
KRISTIN is found in the Flateyjarbóc.
James, the seventh Earl of Derby, in one of his letters to his son said 'There be many of the CHRISTIANS in this country-that is CHRISTINS [for that is] the true name; but they have made themselves chief here.'+ It is a very common name in the Isle of Mann. In the parish of Maughold every fourth man bears it.
Compare (Scandinavian) CHRISTIAN, CHRISTIANSEN.


Maughold, Andreas, Jurby, Bride, Lezayre, Malew, Rushen, Onchan (vc), Braddan, Marown, Arbory, German, Santon, Lonan (c), elsewhere (u).

* Four Mast., Vol. II., p. 694.
+ Manx Society, Vol. III., P. 49.
++ This is given in the 'Statute Law Book' as 1419, which cannot be correct.
§ Christian is not the usual form till the 17th century.

GOREE, and GORRY corrupted from (O.N.) Goðfreyðr. Bugge and others conned freyðr with frid, 'peace,' but this is very uncertain. Goðfreyðr would naturally pass through the various stages of GODFRAITH, GODRED, and GORED to GORI in Scandinavian lips. In Ireland it became GOTH-FRAITH, GOFFRY, and finally GORRY.

GOTHFRAITH is found in the Four Masters, and the most curtailed form is exhibited in DERRY GORRY, Godfrey's wood,' in Monaghan.

Er-derry haink er huc Ree Goree.
'Until there came to them King Goree.'

Note that KING GOREE would, for the sake of euphony, become KING OREE, and then OREE, or ORRY, would be used without the prefix.

GORRE [1627], GORRY [1712].
It is almost confined to Peel and was never common.

LACE and LEECE (probably originally the same name) possibly from Leif, or Leifr, 'an inheritance,' a name very frequently found in the Landnámabóc.

In Lincolnshire there is a place called LACEBY, which in the Domesday Book is written LEVESBI, and in the Hundred Rolls, LEYSEBY.
Compare (Norman) LACY.
LACE [1643], LEECE [1679], LASE [1693], LEESE [1695], MEYLEESE [1746.]
It is not so common as formerly.
Bride, German (vc), Maughold, Santon, Andreas, Lezayre, Patrick (c), elsewhere (u).

[see Gill 3rd Manx Scrap Book]

[FPC Note - a one page continuation was given at Vol 10 p113 - it is collected here for ease of reading]

SCARFF. Dr. Vigfusson suggests this name is probably derived (O.N.) skarð, ' a mountain [see Gill]

SKARF is common in local names in Iceland, and we find SCARF-GAP in Cumberland, so that the surname may have been taken from one of the places so called. Other possible derivations are from skarði, 'hare-lip,' a nickname which was a frequent Danish proper name on Runic stones, or from skarf, 'a cormorant' which is used as a nickname in the Landndmaboc. The cormorant is still called the Scarf' in the Shetlands. SCHARF is found in the Hundred Rolls.

The name is now very uncommon.

MACSKERFFE [1408], SKERF [1417], MACSKARFF [1511], SCARFF [1620].

SKILLICORNE, a name peculiar to the Isle of Mann, is puzzling. It is most probably derived from a local name now forgotten, beginning with the word skellig, 'rock.' We have Skellig and Cornaa separately among our local names, but not in combination.

CORNI is found as a personal name in the Landnamaboc, and SKYLI in the Flateyjarboc.

Sir Philip SKILLICORNE was a vicar in 1521.

[Skylyngcorne 1428] SKYLYCORNE [1511], SKILLICORNE [1521], SKYLLESKORN [1540], SKILLICORN [1650], SKILLECORN [1651].

Maughold, Andreas, Lezayre, Malew (c), elsewhere (u).

[FPC Note - AWM was probably very miststaken here as more likely Skillicorne comes from Lancashire Place Name see W.H.Gill]



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