Recorded as McCoy and sometimes McKoy, this interesting surname is of Irish, Scottish and Manx origins. It is a developed form of the Old Gaelic Mac Aodha, meaning the son of Fire, originally the name of a Celtic pagan god. The McCoys came to Ireland as gallowglasses, their home territory being the Isel of Man and the southern isles of Scotland such as Islay. In Ireland the surname is chiefly found in the Counties of Armagh and Monaghan with a sprinkling in County Limerick and even far away in Cork. The name dates back to the late 11th Century (see below), and it is said that there are at least fifteen forms of the name including: McCoy, Mckay, McKoy, McKey, McKee McCay, McKie, and even McGee, although this is disputed by some researchers. Examples of recordings include the marriage of Michael McCoy and Anne Booth at St. George's chapel, Hyde Park, Westminster, on December 19th 1742, and Charles McCoy, christened on April 13th 1766, at St. Leonard's Shoreditch, in the city of London. Interesting namebearers, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", include Rev. Edward Mc Coy (1839 - 1872), a noted Gaelic writer, and Sir Frederick Mac Coy (1823 - 1899) a Dublin-born naturist, best known for his work in that field in Australia. As to whom the "Real McCoy" was remains unproven. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cucail Mac Aedha. This was dated 1098, in the dictionary of Manx Names. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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