This most interesting and unusual surname is of Old Gaelic origin, and is a synonym of "MacKeown", found in Ireland and Scotland as the Anglicized form of the Gaelic "MacEoghain, MacEoin", composed of the prefix "Mac", son of, and the personal name "Eogann", now generally acknowledged to be a Gaelic form of the Latin "Eugenius", though formerly widely believed to be a form of "John". Eugenius itself derives from the Greek "Eugenios", meaning "well-born, noble", borne by a 3rd Century bishop and martyr. There are seventeen variants and synonyms of MacKeown, varying from Magone, MacCune, and MacKone to MacEwen. The main branch of this sept were located in North Connacht, with another branch in Galway. However, McGeown and its variant McGeon are almost entirely confined to the Oriel counties of Armagh, Monaghan and parts of south Down. Early recordings are found in Scottish records, as these are more comprehensive than Irish records. Gilpatrik mac Ewen is recorded in 1219, in the Register of the Abbey of Arbroath (Scotland), while Isabella, daughter of Joseph and Ann McGeown, was christened on November 16th 1819, at Aghalee, Antrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malcolm MacEwen, which was dated 1174, in the "Book of the Priory of St. Andrew's in Scotland", during the reign of King William "The Lion" of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. 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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