Recorded as MacKenzie, McKenzie, Kenzie and Kensit, this is a famous Scottish surname. In the Gaelic it is recorded as Maccoinnich or Macchoinnich, translating as 'the son of Coinneach'. The derivation is from 'Mac' meaning 'son', and 'cainnechus', fair skinned, suggesting that the original nameholders may have been of Norse-Viking nationality. The English pronunciation of the name is interesting as it preserves the medieval Gaelic pronunciation which in most anglicised names, is diffused. The name also appears in early Irish recordings as 'Mac Cainnigh', although strictly speaking the translation is then different as 'the son of the well dressed one'! This seems an unlikely explanation given the propensity of members of the clan to indulge in bloody deeds.Their feud with the MacDonalds occupied most of the period between the 13th and 16th centuries, leaving them little time to indulge in sartorial elegance. This aside, early recordings include those of M'Kenzocht of Kintail in 1491, and Alan McConze of Culcowe, Armanoch, in 1504. Gilchrist Makkingze was arrested for felony in Wigtown in 1513, whilst rather more lawfully Johannes McKenzie held the charter of Kildrin in 1606. Amongst the many interesting namebearers was Sir George Mackenzie K. C., (1636 - 1691), known as 'Bloody George', for his treatment of covenanters, whilst Donald MacKenzie (1783 - 1851), was originally a fur-trader but later Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada. Murdoch McKenzie, the Elder (1721-1797) and Murdoch McKenzie the younger, his nephew, (1743-1829) were both admiralty surveyors who published reports on marine surveying. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Makbeth Makkyneth, which was dated 1264, The court of Pleas, held at Dull in Angus, during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 -1286. 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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