This rare and unusual Scottish-Irish name derives from the ancient gaelic "Mac Fionn-laidh", which translates as "the son of the fair warrior". The strong association with Ulster suggests that the name is a possible reference to the Norsemen (Vikings) of the 9th Century, Ulster being one of their strongholds. In its modern form, the name is a variant of McKinley, itself a variant of MacFinlayson, other forms being McKinlas, McCandless and McKindless. William McKinley was the 25th American president and descended from David Mckinley, an Ulsterman, circa 1730. The "link" spelling would seem to be Macinlies or Macinal, 17th century forms, although the first true holder of the name may have been Sir John Finlosoun of Kilmorich (1511), whose correct spelling was "Mac Fionnlaigh". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard McKinless, which was dated September 4th 1870, a witness at Ballindern, Co. Derry, Ireland, during the reign of Queen Victoria, "The Great White Queen", 1837 - 1901. 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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