This very unusual surname is of medieval Scottish origin, and is an abbreviated form of the Old Gaelic "MacGillegarrow", son of the attendant of Garrow, from "Mac", son of, "gille", attendant, man-servant, messenger, and "Garrow", a personal byname from "garbh", rough (featured), stout, brawny. "Garbh" gives two forms of pronunciations "-garrow" and "-garrif", the modern surname Gariff being based on the latter. One Johannes Garrow appears as a tenant in Strathdee in 1527, and M'Illegirf was a enant in Ediravemach in 1594. Donald Dow McGillegariff of Glenlochie, Perthshire, noted in the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, was charged in 1618 with the illegal carrying of arms, and Donald Glas M'Illegariff in Ardewnaig, together with several others of the same name, gave their bond of manrent to Campbell of Glenurquhay in 1608. A bond of manrent was a written agreement whereby a free person became a follower of a patron or defender. In the 18th Century the name was widespread in Breadalbane, West Perthshire, as Mcilleghoriv(e), however; the last of the name is believed to have left the Ardtalnaig district on the shores of Loch Tay, at the beginning of the 20th Century. MacGarrow and Garrow are now the more usual representations of the name. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of McGillegarrow, tenant of Feryst, which was dated 1504, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 - 1513. 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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