Recorded in many forms including MacLaughlin, MacLoughlin, McLaughlin and McLauchlin, this is an ancient Irish surname. It derives from a pre 10th century Old Gaelic name borne by two entirely distinct clans. The first was originally called the O' Maoilsheachlann' and in the 17th century assumed the name MacLoughun. The territory of this sept lay in the central plains of Ireland, especially in County Meath. The prefix O' indicates male descendant of, whilst "maol", describes a "tonsured one", a follower of a religious order. The original nameholder or chief was called Maoilsheachlann and he was better known as Malachy 11nd, the High King of Ireland from 980 a.d. to 1002. The second sept belonged to Innishowen in County Donegal. Here the name meant the "son of Lochlann", the latter being a Norse-Viking pre 7th century compound of the elements "loch", meaning a lake or fjord, plus "lann", land. The great leading men of this sept are frequently referred to in "The Annals of the Four Masters". Among the many recordings in Ireland is the marriage of John McLaughlin and Elizabeth Crauffurd on June 23rd 1666 at Derry Cathedral, Templemore. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag MacLochlann of Ulster. This was dated 1199, in the Annals of Medieval History for the counties of Donegal and Derry, during the reign of King Cathal, known as Red Hand. He was the High King of Ireland from 1198 to 1224. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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