This extraordinary surname generally recorded as MacCambridge and McCambridge, but sometimes confusingly as Chambers in Northern Ireland, is pure Scottish and has no connection with the famous English city. It is a corrupted form of the ancient Gaelic 'Giolla Mac Ambrois', (the son of the follower of Ambrose), and has its epi-centre in the Mull of Kintyre. It is from this region of Western Scotland that most, if not all, early recordings are to be found. It is presumed that the original name holder was a lay preacher or similar who took as his 'sign' that of St.Ambrose, an early 6th century bishop. The changed spelling to the 'modern' surname probably resulted from the introduction of English as the spoken language from the 15th century onwards. Early recording examples include Neill M'Camrois in South Kintyre in 1605, and John Ambrose, who was owed monies for assisting in resettling the outlawed Clan MacGregor in 1614. Donald M'Camridge was recorded in the parish of Kilcalmkill, Argyl, in 1693, whilst Donald McCambrois was at Islay in 1686. It is claimed that the name is now to be found in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA, although in Northern Ireland it has sometimes lost its 'Mac' prefix ! An interesting recording in relation to Ireland, is that on May 5th 1847, at the height of the Irish 'Potato' famine, a family called McCambridge, headed by the mother Ellen, aged forty, and with her sons Patrick (15), Robert (11), Stewart (7), and daughters Catherine (13), and Anne (5), left Belfast Lough on the ship 'Chrisan', bound for New York. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Ambrois, which was dated 1604, who obtained judgement against the Earl of Argyle, during the reign of King James 1st of England and V1 of Scotland, 1587 - 1625. 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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