This notable and long-established Scottish surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacGriogar", son of Griogar or Gregory, a male given name popular throughout Christendom in the Middle Ages, but having its origins in the ancient Greek (200 B.C.) "Gregorios", a derivative of "gregorian", to be awake or watchful. This name was borne by two 4th Century fathers of the Orthodox Church: St. Gregory Nazianzene, and St. Gregory of Nyssa, but it was St. Gregory the Great (circa 540 - 604), first Pope of the name, who spread its popularity in Western Europe. The legendary ancestor of the Macgregor clan is the 10th Century King Giric, or Girig, fourth in succession from Kenneth 1, and referred to as "Gregory the Great" in feudal documents. The Macgregors are reputed to have had "the redeeming merit of picturesqueness, and for that reason they occupy a larger place in Scottish literature than any other Highland clan". During the Middle Ages the clan acquired a reputation for lawlessness, and the name Macgregor was proscribed in a 1603 Act of Parliament; nevertheless, it has survived in large numbers. Particulars on the life of Robert Macgregor (1671 - 1734), known as "Rob Roy", are to be found in Scott's introduction to "Rob Roy". A Coat of Arms granted to the Macgregors is a silver shield, with an oak tree eradicated in bend sinister proper, surmounted of a sword in bend, supporting on its point, in the dexter canton, a red antique crown. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Duncan McGregere, which was dated 1292, in the "Scottish Name Register", during the reign of King Robert 1 of Scotland, known as "Robert the Bruce", 1306 - 1329. 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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