This ancient Scottish and sometimes Irish surname is recorded in the spellings of MacConnal, MacConnel, MacConnell, the short forms commencing 'Mc', the specifically Irish O'Connell, and sometimes without any prefix at all! However spelt the surname is claimed by the Scots to be a derived form of "MacDhomhnuill", the modern MacDonnell, through dialectal assimilation of the letter 'd'. The name literally means "the seed or race of Donald", and it is claimed that all descend from Donald, the eldest son of Reginald, the first MacDonald, and Lord of the Isles, in the 10th century.The Scottish MacConnel(l) clan is largely to be found in the counties of Ayr, Argyll and Wigtownshire, and the first known recording of the name in any acceptable modern spelling is that of William McConnil, from the parish of Urray in 1649. It seems that he was a soldier on the kings side, and therefore in the parlance of the day "a rebel"! This was during the various civil wars of the 1640 - 1660 period. The Irish beg to differ claiming that the descent is from Cathasach O'Connail, bishop of Connacht, in 1180, and that the origin is from the first name Daniel! This suggests that although today the surnames are spelt the same, the origins are quite different. The first recording as a hereditary spelling is believed to be that of Therthelmac Makdonenalde, a witness to a land charter in Lesmore, Scotland, in the year 1251. This was during the reign of King Alexander 11nd of Scotland, who reigned from 1249 to 1286. 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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