This surname with variant spellings MacNaught, McKnaight, McKnaught, McNaight and McNeight originated from the old Scots-Gaelic "Mac Neachtain", "Mac" meaning son of and "Neachtain" a mysterious or spiritual being. The surname was first registered in Scotland in the late 13th Century. As an Irish surname MacKnight is a translation of the Irish words "Mac and ridire" meaning "son of the knight", it was adopted by a branch of the Norman family of Fitzsimons, which was located in Co. Meath in medieval times. The fact that most of the MacKnights registered in Ireland are in Ulster suggests that the majority of Mac Knights are of Scottish origin. Other early recordings of the surname include cristinus Mc Nawyche, who was witness to a charter in the monastery of Kilwinning (1357), and Fergus M'Nauch of Culconnody (1448). On March 12th 1618, John Macknight married Agnes Hamilton in Edinburgh. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Makenaught of Dunfrieshire, which was dated 1296, in the calendar of documents relating to Scotland, during the reign of King John Ballion, King of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. 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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