Recorded in Ireland as McAster, McCaster, McCoster, and Coster, and in Scotland as MacCotter and McCotter, this is quite a rare surname. Its origins are shrouded in mystery. It seems to be a development of the Gaelic-Norse pre 10th century surname 'Mac Ottir' meaning the son of Ottar, with Ottar being a popular personal name of the ancient times. Whether the present nameholders are originally from the Vikings who conquered most of Ireland in the years between 800 and 1000 a.d., or whether they are of Scottish descent from the Hebrides, is not proven.The famous Scottish etymologist George Black suggests that the name is from the Hebrides, where it was recorded as MacCotter as early as the year1460 when Murdo MacCotter took part in a warlike expedition to Orkney!. A later recording is that of a John McCotter who possessed lands in Aberdeen in 1667. Irish records are fragmentary, many being destroyed in 1922 when the IRA blew up the National Records Office in Dublin, with the loss of a thousand years of history. In this case though we have been able to find an early recording of Thomas McCaster. He married Jane Hanna at Kilkeel, County Down, on March 20th 1846.
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