This Gaelic surname recorded as Mawhinney, McWhinnie, McWhinney, McWeeney, McQueeney, and several other forms, is an Anglicized form of the Old Scots Mac Shuibhne, which translates as 'the sonm of the pleasant one'. The surname first appears on record in mid 13th Century, (see below), and has a very confused etymology, being associated directly with the clan MacKenzie, but also in Ireland being a synonym for the famous clan Buchanan. Today the surname is most associated with Ulster, and in particular County Antrim, but in earlier times it was most prominent in County Fermanagh, some fifyeen families being recorded in Petty's Census of Ireland undertaken in 1659. Early recordings from the Scottish homeland include Ewin Makkenye was "sone and air" to Kenyeoch Maksorle of the Black Isle in the year 1500, and Alan McConze who was tenant of Culcowe, Ardmanoch in 1504. Other early recordings include Donal Mikenye of Kilravock in 1513, and Gilcrist Makkingze of Wigtownshire in 1513. William McQuhinny of the parish of Carsfern was recorded in "The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland" in 1684, Martha McWhinney was christened at Carnmoney, County Antrim, on December 1st 1708, whilst Alexander Mcwhinnie and Margaret Torburn were married in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, on June 20th 1739. Margaret Mawhinnie married a John McCulloch in that parish on January 10th 1764, and David McWhinney was a witness at Carnmoney, Antrim, on July 27th 1807. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Makbeth Makkyneth, which was dated 1264, in the rolls of "Pleas held at Dull, Angus", during the reign of Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286. 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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