There are some eighty ways of spelling MacDonald, the most famous and most numerous of the Scottish fighting clans. These spellings include as either Mac or Mc - MacDonnell, MacConnell, and rare forms such as Makonnell, McDonan, McDonand, McDonal, and many others. However spelt the origination is from Donald, the original chief of the clan in the 10th century and known to history as 'Donald of the Isles.' The derivation is from the Gaelic 'Mac Dhomhnuill', said to translate as 'The son of 'world-rule', a meaning which is not entirely coincidental as the clan long ago assumed the title of 'Lords of the Isles'. This first 'assumption' first took place in the time of King David 11nd of Scotland in the early 14th century. It made him extremely angry, as along with the title they also claimed all the tithes and taxes that went with it! David went to considerable, if unsuccessful, lengths to dispossess them. It is said that in the Gaelic the pronounciation was as 'MakOonil', and anglicised attempts at pronunciation have increased the variety of spellings to include Mak Chonehill (1479), McConile (1570), Mak Donald (1571) and M'Onell in 1576. Amongst the many famous MacDonalds are Flora MacDonald (1722 - 1790), the rescuer of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, and Sir John MacDonald, the founder and premier of the Dominion of Canada (1815 - 1891). The first recorded spelling of the family name as a surname is probably Therthelnac MakDonenalde. This was dated 1251, when he was a charter witness at Lesmore, Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286.
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