An old Gaelic proverb says ‘Remember the men from whence you came.’
By ‘men’ of course, it means humankind, embracing women, which in fact sums up how unfair - and distorting - is the basic principal of surnames. By law though, throughout much of the world we are required to take the surname of our father and his father before him, not our mother or even her father’s family. Just how and when your family name was added to a forebear’s first name can vary enormously. So should you reconsider your surname?
In the great ancestry game, you will learn quickly that your present surname is only the tip of the genetic iceberg. For example, if your genuinely MacDonald forebear had found himself isolated in the heart of Campbell country ten generations ago and had married Jean Campbell and seen his sons and grandsons married to Campbell girls, you could find yourself today with a bank of forebears in the thousands, all of whom were Campbells except yourself and just nine McDonalds in the direct male line! But the even more awesome thought is that if just one of those thousands of forebears had died in childhood, you would not be here today. So you are much more than just your surname.
- The sound of your name is generally more important than the spelling which was standardised only comparatively recently. (For example, Shakespeare who was quite literate, spelled his own surname in over twenty different ways in his lifetime.)
- Including spelling variations there is over 16,000 Scottish surnames.
- Mac is part of many Scottish surnames and simply means ‘son.’ It is commonly believed that surnames beginning with Mc are Irish and those beginning with Mac are Scottish but this is not so.
At Great Scot, our Heritage Specialist is every ready to help you choose a tartan to wear your heritage faithfully, and with pride. Ask us anything here.
Note: This blog has been written with the help of:
Scots Kith & Kin, Best Selling Guide to the Clans and Surnames of Scotland Available to BUY HERE.