Recorded in the spellings of MacCartan, Cartan, Carton, Cartin, Carten, MacKartan, Kartane, and possibly others, this is, in the 20th century, both an English locational surname and an Irish and Ulster patronymic clan surname. For many nameholders the surname derives from the 12th century Mac Airtain, itself a diminutive of the original and highly popular, pre 6th century baptismal name Art(hur). The clan were the chiefs of Kinelarty, in County Down, which is also known as MacArtans Country. However from the 17th century onwards the name came to be confused with the "settler" surname Carton, from the Olde English pre 7th centuary "carr-tun", meaning the place by the rocks, to the point where now it is very difficult to separate the origins. Curiously, to add to the confusion, the apparently English Cartons were sometimes Huguenot! A family of French refugees called Kartane, but later anglicised to Carton, fleeing the persecution of protestants on the continent, settled in Dublin in about the year1680. Later the name spread to Wexford and nameholders were probably responsible for establishing the village called Carton in County Kildare. Early recordings include Owen MacCartan at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, County Derry, on June 23rd 1659, Hester Carton, christened at the church of St John the Evangelist, Dublin, on April 17th 1666, George Carton christened at St Pauls, Covent Garden, London, on June 26th 1691, and Katharine Kartane, christened at St Peters church, Dublin, Ireland, on May 21st 1697. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Teag MacArtan, chief of Kinelarty, County Down, in the year 1350.
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