This surname is of Scottish and Irish origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Old Scots Gaelic "Mac Phail", son of Pail, itself a Gaelicized version of the male given name Paul, from the Latin "Paulus", "Small". This was the name adopted by the Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, after his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus (A.D. circa 34), and it was he, perhaps more than any other of Christ's followers, who played a significant role in establishing Christianity as a major world religion.The name was also borne by numerous other early saints, and it occurs in England before the Norman Conquest only as a monk's name. Niven M'Phaill was a charter witness at Sonnachan, Argyll, in 1488, and Donald Makfaill was witness to a contract of friendship between Dunbar of Westfield and the Clanchattan in 1492. Sir John Mcfaell, a pope's knight, recorded in the "Book of the Thanes of Cawdor", witnessed a bond of manrent in 1533. The variants Mc Fall and Mc Faul are particularly well recorded in Church Registers of County Antrim. On August 29th 1824, Sarah Jane, daughter of William Mc Faul, was christened at Ballymena in that county, and on June 17th 1846, Ann Mc Faul, a famine emigrant to New York, embarked from Liverpool on the ship "Empire" bound for that port. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gillemore M'Phale, which was dated 1414, in the "Book of the Thanes of Cawdor", during the reign of King James 1 of Scotland, 1406 - 1437. 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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