This fine Scottish surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacGiolla Chairge", son of the devotee of Cairge, a saint's name of great antiquity. Frequently, Gaelic family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, but in some instances, clan names indicated devotion to a particular saint or holy man. The Gaelic prefix "Mac" means "son of", and "giolla", also written as "gille", translates literally as "attendant, man-servant, follower", but is used here in the transferred sense of "devotee". There were two main branches of this family: the MacHargs of Shalloch in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Irongray in Kirkcudbright, and the MacHargs of Cardorkan in the parish of Minnigaff (Kirkcudbright). The latter group, despite their saintly origins, appear to have been of a turbulent nature; Finlay M'Quharg and others of the name were "charged with fire raising, and the burning of houses belonging to Steward of Fintillauch" in 1581, and in 1592 they took an active part in a Galloway feud. Further Anglicized forms of the name include: M'Quharge, MacElharge, MacIlhargy, MacIlhagga and Maharg. In 1597, one Martin M'Quharg was burgess of Kirkcudbright, and on June 29th 1798, Isabella, daughter of Ebenezer and Barbara MacHarg, was christened in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Marion M'Quharge, which was dated 1493, in the "Socttish Antiquary", Edinburgh, Scotland, during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 - 1513. 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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