This interesting surname, also written with the Gaelic prefix "Mac" meaning "son of", is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic (Scottish and Irish) patronymic "Mac Aodh". The personal name "Aodh" meaning "fire" was originally the name of a pagan god. In the "modern" idiom Mac Aodh has at least fifteen Anglicized forms including McKay, McKee, Kee, McCay, McCoy, McEa, and McAy. The form MacKee is widespread today in North East Ulster, especially in Counties Antrim, Down and Armagh, with Kee most numerous in County Donegal. One George McKe of Myretoun was mentioned in the Register of the Privy Seal, Scotland, in 1538, and Sir Patrick MacKee was a prominent County Donegal "servitor" at the Plantation of Ulster. On April 24th 1845, Robert Kee and Anne Jane Wilson were married in Raphoe, County Donegal, and on May 17th 1847, James Kee, a famine emigrant, embarked from Belfast on the "Pontiac" bound for New York. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cucail Mac Aedha, which was dated 1098, in "Manx Names", by Moore, during the reign of Cathal "Craobhdhearg" (Red Hand), High King of Ireland, 1198 - 1224. 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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