This famous Scottish clan surname derives from an ancient Gaelic male given name "MacRaith", son of grace, prosperity, or favour, from the Celtic "rat", luck, fortune. This name, inscribed as "Maqi Rati" on an ogham stone found at Keenrath, in the Irish county of Cork, may have been introduced into Scotland as early as the 5th Century A.D., when the Gaelic language was brought from Ireland. Alternatively, like many other old personal names, "MacRaith" may have arisen independently in different places and at various dates. An early example of the surname recording was that of Macraith de Ospitali, who witnessed the gift of a church to the canons of Holyrood in the reign of King Malcolm 1V of Scotland, (1153 - 1165), whilst other examples include Patrick M'Re, otherwise recorded as Patrick M'Rey, a tenant farmer in the parish of Tibbers, Penpont in the year 1376, and Dugall McRay, a witness at Kilmun, Aygyllshire, in 1576. In the modern idiom the surname has several spellings ranging from McCray, McCrae, McCrea, McCree and McCrie, to McCraw, McCreagh, McCraith and McGragh. The Irish form of the surname MacGrath was introduced into Ulster by Scottish Planter families in the 17th century. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander Macrad, which was dated circa 1225, in the "Cartularium Comitatus de Levenax", Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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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