This most interesting and unusual surname is found in both Scotland and Ireland, and is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic "Macrath", composed of the Gaelic prefix "Mac", son of, and "rat", favour, grace, a common element in Old Breton names, such as Ratfrid and Ratlouuen. Hence, the name translates as "son of grace, prosperity". Like many other old personal names Macrath originated quite independently in more than one place and date, and was given to individuals in no way connected with each other. One Macraith de Ospitali witnessed a gift of the Church of St. Marie to the canons of Holyrood during the reign of Malcolm 1V (1153 - 1165). In Ireland the name is found chiefly in the North of the country, where it is of Scottish origin, and is also spelt here as McGrath, McCrea, McRea, O'Rea, and Rea. One Patrick M'Re was a tenant in Tybris (Tibbers), in the parish of Penpont, Scotland in 1376, and Dugall McRay was a witness at Kilmun in 1476. Samuell Mcrae married Marion Weed on July 15th 1670, at Edinburgh, while Ann Macrae married John MacPherson, also at Edinburgh, on October 22nd 1792. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander Macrad, which was dated 1225, in "Medieval Records of Levenaux", 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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