Originally recorded as both MacCarroll and O'Carroll, this ancient and long-established surname, now usually recorded as Carroll, is Irish. It originates from the ancient surnames Mac Cearbhaill or O'Cearbhaill. Both Mac and O' have similar meanings of relationship, although arguably Mac refers only to "son of" and O' only to "descendant of", plus in this case the personal name "Cearbhall." This was possibly a byname for a butcher or a fierce warrior, deriving from the word "cearbh", meaning to hack! There were two distincts septs of MacCarroll and no less than six of O'Carroll, in Ireland, but today they are largely intermixed in the counties of Kerry, Offaly, Monaghan, Tipperary, Leitrim and Louth.The (united) surname as Carroll has a high position in the list of most numerous surnames in Ireland, with approximately sixteen thousand nameholders. The recorded surname dates from the mid 11th Century, and examples of these recordings include:Alice, the daughter of Hugh Carroll, who was christened at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London, on September 29th 1609. The most Rev. John Carroll (1735 - 1815) was the first Catholic bishop in America, and also the first Archbishop of Baltimore, whilst Patrick Carroll, aged 54 years., was a famine emigrant to New York. He sailed aboard the ship "Columbus of Liverpool" in February 1846, together with his wife, Ann, and his son, William, aged 11. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is: Argent, two red lions combatant, supporting a sword erect in pale proper in the dexter chief point a black cross flory. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maolsuthain O'Carroll. This was dated 1031, when he was the confessor to Brian Boru and contributor to the "Book of Armagh". Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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