This famous Anglo-Scottish surname derives from the pre 7th century Gaelic male given name "Donnchad", related ultimately to "Donncatus", a Celtic personal name of great antiquity. This is composed of the elements "donn", meaning brown, and "cath", - the warrior. On a stone at Glan Usk near Crickhowel in Wales the name appears as "Dunocatus" which suggests that the initial element may alternatively be "dun", a fortress nd hence, "fort warrior". Early recordings include that of Dunchad, the eleventh abbot of Iona, who died in 717, and Dunchad, the abbot of Dunkeld, who was killed in the battle of Dorsum Crup, Perthshire, in the year 965. The name was borne by two 11th Century kings of Scotland, Duncan 1, who was slain by MacBeth in 1040, and Duncan 11, slain in 1094. Early examples of the surname are English and include Ralf Donekan of Somerset, in 1280, William Donekyn of Sussex, in 1332, and John Dunkan, who held lands in Berwick-on-Tweed, in 1367. John Duncan, was a famous African explorer, who sailed on the Niger expedition of 1842 as master-at-arms in the ship "HMS Albert". A Coat of Arms granted to the Duncan family has the blazon of a red shield, a gold chevron engrailed between two cinquefoils in chief, and a hunting horn in base, all silver. The crest is a sailing ship in the sea proper. The motto is "Disce pati" meaning "Learn to endure". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Dunkan, which was dated 1275, the Hundred Rolls of the county of Lincoln, England, during the reign of King Edward 1st of Engand, reigned 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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