This interesting surname with variant spellings McGurk, is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mag Coirc", son of (Mac) Coirc, a patronymic from the personal name "Corc", heart, or "Mag Oirc", son of orc, a patronymic from the personal name "Orc", meaning a fabulous monster, whale, the latter is the Scots-Gaelic origin of the name while the former is the Gaelic-Irish source. In Scotland, the name was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below). Morthan MacKorc is mentioned in the inhibition by the bishop of Glasgow directed against Malcolm, Earl of Lennox in 1294. Suny Magurke held land in Knapdale and Glenarewyle in 1314. In Ireland, the name belongs to a Tyrone Sept (descended from Niall Naoighiallach) who were hereditary joint keepers of St. Colmalle's Bell. The MacGuirks were also hereditary tenants of the Archbishop of Armagh until the property was lost in 1624 following the plantation of Ulster. A notable namebearer was Fr. Brian McGuirk, born in 1622 who at the age of 90 yrs., was caught by Dawson a notorious priest-hunter, during the "Penal laws" in Ireland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Murdach MacKork, was made a grant of land by Thomas de Cremennane, which was dated 1290, "Cartularium Comitatus de Levenax", during the reign of Queen Margaret of Norway (1286 - 1290). 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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