Developed in the 16th century from the pre 10th century Gaelic surname Mac Giolla Fhiondain, meaning "The son of the follower of St Finian", this is an Irish surname of great antiquity. Originally from County Fermanagh, and later prominent in Counties Armagh and Down, the clan was prominent in the various attempts to overthrough English rule in the 17th and 18th centuries. They reached they peak of power in the heyday of the Gaelic order before the 16th century, and like several other clans including the O'Doherty's, they claim descent from the famous Niall of the Nine Hostages. Their chief was known as the lord of Lough Erne. The surname today is recorded in a bewildering number of spellings. These are known to include MacAlinden, McAlinden, McAlinion, Lennon, Glendon, Glindon, Mac Leddan, Liddane, Lindon, Luddan, Lyden, and O' Lydon as well as perhaps Mackleden, a rare "English" form. Before 1850 the number of people in the British Isles who could write their name was estimated at 20% of the population, and this coupled with the change from Gaelic to English spellings no doubt contributed to the various surname developments. The first recorded nameholder is probably Padraig Mac Giolla Fhionndain (1645 - 1733), a poet known far outside his homeland for his eloquent elergys.
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