Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Scottish surnames threatened with extinction

My Heritage (www.myheritage.com) has been busy carying out research into British surnames threatened with extinction. Much of the story is covered at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/some-of-britains-most-colourful-surnames-are-being-lost-through-emigration-and-marriage/story-e6frg6so-1226044938732, but Ruby Soave has kindly been in touch on behalf of the company to provide a Scottish take for readers of this blog.

The list of surnames that are on the verge of disappearing/presumed extinct include Bread, Relish, Birdwhistle and Miracle. The late jazz composer and musician Sir John Dankworth has fewer than 20 bearers of the name in the UK today, and his daughter, the singer Jacqui Dankworth) admits that it would be up to her niece to continue the name and uphold her father’s heritage.

Some Scottish examples include (with under 20 bearers):

MacQuoid (Scottish)
There are only two examples of the surname MacQuoid in the British electoral records. It seems likely that the name is related to MacQuaid (a name still found in Co Monaghan). The meaning of MacQuoid is obscure, and no authority offers an origin (although in Scotland, the name would appear to be affiliated with the MacKay clan).

Loughty (Scottish)
Loughty is considered as a variation of Lochty, the name of two villages in Tayside (one a couple of miles west of Perth; the other about 6 miles west of Brechin). It is most likely that Loughty, Lochty (also Loughtie) are surnames from a place name. The word 'loch' is, of course, 'a lake or inlet'; and the suffix '-ty' usually signified the diminutive, the implied meaning being 'of, or by a small lake'.

With under 200 bearers:

MacMicking (Scottish)
MacMicking is just one of at least 40 variants, from MacMeeken and MacMichan to McMeikine and MakMakin. Its meaning is lost in the ancient mists, but its origins seem to go as far back as the first half of the Ninth Century to one Mahun, who led an invasion of Galloway. The coat of arms of the clan shows a naked - from the waist up! - warrior, above a shield clutching an arrow. The clan was (and maybe still is) associated with the county of Ayrshire.

Slora (Scottish)
Slora seems to have several variations, including Slorra, Slorah, Slorach and Slorrance. There are currently 41 records of Slora, 5 of Slorah and over 200 of Slorach listed in current mainland electoral rolls (which thought to predominate in the Banff and Buchan districts of Scotland). The names are likely to have originated in the Gaelic 'sluagdach' ('leader') and may initially have referred to the clan elder. The names are associated with Clan Davidson.


Presumed Extinct

MacCaa (Scottish)
MacCaa has many clan associations; the most prominent being with the Stuarts of Bute, the Clan MacKay, the Clan MacFarlane, the Clan MacDonald and Clan Galloway. The name is a phonetic variation of MacKay, meaning 'son of Aoh (ie the champion)'. Other similar names in the group are MacCaw, MacCay, MacGaw, MacGee and MacKee. There seem to be over 900 holders of the name in the USA.


I look forward to hearing from all of you MacCaa's...! :)

NB: I've not done this research, so can't verify any of the above - it is presented here for interest! I should add though that there is no such a thing as a coat of arms for a clan...! :)

(With thanks to Ruby Soave)

Chris

4 comments:

hummer said...

Think it is because of difficulty in pronouncing and they are changing their names or clans just not having males to carry them on.?

Kay said...

As a McMeekin in Ayrshire I can confirm we came from Wigtonshire. Trail runs cold around 1800. And the number of variants in spelling has made tracking them down quite a challenge!

Anonymous said...

There used to be a Mrs McCaa in the Stewartry until a few years ago. There is still Miss McCaa in the same town (daughter to the former, I think).

G-Lass

Sagairt said...

Mine, McIlhagga, is a Scottish surname with under 20 adults in the country. Mind you, not much has changed since 1911, when there were 19, including children! I do my best for its survival with my blog at http://mcilhagga.blogspot.com.