Clan MacDonald of which MacDonell is the spelling used by the families of Glengarry and Keppoch, is the most famous and numerous of the long line of Scottish Highland Clans. The surname is now recorded in every part of the world, the origination of the chiefs being from one 'Donald of the Isles' in the 10th century a.d. The derivation is from the Gaelic 'Mac Dhomhnuill', translating as 'The son of Donald'. It is said that the personal name 'Donald' translates as 'world-rule', a meaning which is perhaps not coincidental as the clan have long assumed the unofficial title of 'Lords of the Isles'. This 'assumption' took place in the time of King David 11 of Scotland in circa 1369 and made the king exceedingly angry, since they also claimed title to all tithes and taxes. He went to considerable, if unsuccessful, lengths to dispossess them ! In the Gaelic the name is pronounced 'Mak Oonil', and anglicised attempts at pronunciation have rendered a variety of spellings including Mak Chonehill (1479), McConile (1570), Mak Donald (1571) M'Oneill (1576), as well as the popular MacDonell and MacDonnell, all members of Clan MacDonald. Amongst the many famous MacDonalds are Flora MacDonald (1722 - 1790), the rescuer of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, and Sir John MacDonald, the founder and premier of the Dominion of Canada (1815 - 1891). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Therthelnac MakDonenalde, which was dated circa 1251, a charter witness at Lesmore, Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286.
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