This notable Scottish surname, variously spelt Maccrea, Maccraw, Maccree and Maccrie, derives from an ancient Gaelic male given name "MacRaith", son of grace, prosperity, or favour, from the Celtic "rat", luck, fortune. This name, inscribed as "Maqi Rati" on an ogham stone found at Keenrath, in the Irish county of Cork, may have been introduced into Scotland as early as the 5th Century A.D., when the Gaelic language was brought from Ireland. Alternatively, like many other old personal names, "MacRaith" may have arisen independently in different places and at various dates.One Macraith de Ospitali witnessed the gift of a church to the canons of Holyrood in the reign of Malcolm 1V (1153 - 1165). The surname first appears on record in the early 13th Century, and further early examples include: Patrick M'Re or M'Rey, tenant in the parish of Tibbers, Penpont (1376), and Dugall McRay, witness at Kilmun, Aygyllshire, in 1576. In the modern idiom the surname has several spelling variations ranging from McCray, McCrea, McCree and McCrie, to McCraw, McCreagh, McCraith and McGragh. The Irish surname MacGrath is etymologically akin to the Scottish McCray which was introduced into Ulster by Scottish Planter families. On February 6th 1864, the birth of Andrew McCray was registered at Drumquin, County Tyrone, and on June 29th 1866, a daughter, Agnes, was born to Charles McCray and Agnes Brown, at Lasswade, Midlothian. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander Macrad, which was dated circa 1225, in the "Cartularium Comitatus de Levenax", Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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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