This surname with spellings MacCaw, McCaw, McGaw, Megaw and Magaw, is a semi anglicized form of the Olde Scots Gaelic name M'Adhamh (pronounced M'Awyoe). The Gaelic prefix "mac" means "son of", plus the personal name Adhamh from the Hebrew meaning "Red Earth" and recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. It first appears as a personal name in Scotland circa 1189 when Adam, Sub-prior of Melrose, became Abbot of Cuspar. Duncan Adam who flourished circa 1316 had four sons, and it is believed that all Scottish bearers of the name (with its numerous variants) descend from them.The semi- anglicized form of the name first appears in the latter half of the 15th Century, (see below). One, Patrick MakCaw is mentioned in the "Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland" in 1489 and in 1613 Donald McCaw was fined "for reset of members of Clan Gregor" - "Register of the Privy Council of Scotland". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Donald McCawe, tenant of Drumboy, which was dated 1481, in the "The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King James III of Scotland 1460 - 1488. 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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