This rare surname, now associated with the Ulster counties of Armagh, Tyrone and Derry, is ultimately believed to derive from the Old Gaelic "MacDhuibhinse", son of Dubhinse, a personal byname from "dubh", black, and "inse", inch, island; hence, "son of the man from the Black Island". The above derivation, put forward by Fr. Woulfe in his work "Sloinnte Gaedhael is Gall" (Irish and English Surnames), is however, disputed by Edward MacLysaght in his later work "Surnames of Ireland". A likely alternative source for McAvinchey is the Gaelic "Mac an Bhinsi", son of the goat-like one", from "Mac", son of, with the definite article "an", frequently shortened to "a'" in translation, and the nickname "Binsi", from "binseach", goat, pronounced with an initial "V" when aspirated. The giving of nicknames with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as supposed resemblance to an animal's appearance or disposition, was a common practice in medieval Ireland, and the majority of Irish surnames are derived from such nicknames. Interestingly, McAvinchey is frequently changed to "Vincent" as a result of the erroneous semi-translation of "Avinchey". On November 20th 1843, one Margaret McVince was recorded in Church Registers of Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John McAvancey, which was dated November 11th 1866, witness at the christening of his daughter, Margaret Ellen, at St. Peter's, Liverpool, Lancashire, during the reign of Queen Victoria, known as "The Great White Queen", 1837 - 1901. 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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