This noble and famous surname is of Irish origin, and when used as a title is one of the most prominent names in Irish history. Between 1329 and 1583 no less than fifteen Fitzgeralds were the earls of Desmond. The surname Desmond is the Anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic "O'Deasmhumhnaigh", translating as "the descendant of the Desmondman", and meaning a native of Desmond. This was the original name for the province of South-West Munster, "deas" meaning south, and "Mumhan", Munster. The surname is closely associated with County Cork, and originally was seldom found elsewhere, King Williamstown, in the Newmarket district of County Cork being renamed Ballydesmond. Curiously although Desmond is clearly an "O" name, it has from time to time been recorded as MacDesmond, the MacDesmonds being for a time the principal name in the barony of Kinalea, County Cork. The name has also been recorded for several centuries in England, and amongst the many church recordings are those of Peter Desmond, christened on August 22nd 1647 at St. Giles church, Cripplegate, London, and Samuel Desmond on August 8th 1779, at St. Andrew's, Holborn. The first recorded spelling of the hereditary surname may be that of Teag O'Desmond, in Petty's Census of Ireland, for County Cork, in the year 1659. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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