This most interesting surname, with variant spellings Mac Alester, Mac Alister, Mac Allaster, Macc Allister, etc., derives from the Gaelic "Mac Alasdair", which translates as "son of (Mac) Alexander". Alexander comes from the Greek personal name "Alexandros", defender of men, from the Greek elements "Alexein", to defend, and "aner", man (andros) and nowhere is the name so thoroughly national as in Scotland, where is the name so thoroughly national as in Scotland, where it was introduced by Queen Margaret, wife of King Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093), from the Hungarian Court, where she was raised. It owed its popularity in the Middle Ages to the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.). One Alexander Makalester appears in the Black Isle in 1500, while one John Makalester had a precept of remission in 1542. Africk McQuhollastar was mentioned in a charter of wadset in 1571 and Angus McAlester was a follower of Murdow McCloyd in the attack on the galley at Balcomie in 1600. John Makalster married Jane Kerr at Edinburgh on February 15th 1649, while one Margaret, daughter of James and Mary McAllister was baptised on May 18th 1724 at St. Cuthberts, Edinburgh. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ranald Makalestyr, obtained a lease of lands in Arran, which was dated 1455, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1264 - 1600. during the reign of King James 11, "Ruler of Scotland", 1437 - 1460. 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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