Recorded in various modern spellings including MacMichael, McMichael, McMichell, McMickell, and possibly others, this is an early medieval Scottish surname. It is a developed form of the Gaelic Mac gille Micheil, meaning the son of the follower of St. Michael. The prefix "gille", in Irish "giolla", literally means servant, but is used in a religious sense as "devotee or follower". After the famous Crusades of the 12th century, the early Christian saints were popular in both Ireland and Scotland. Holy men who took up a specific saint as the focal point for their beliefs, found a ready audience amongst the native population.In this case early examples of the surname recordings include: Gillecolme Makgillemichell, a charter witness at Lesmore, Argyllshire in 1251, and Makbeth Makgilmichel who was present at pleas held at Dull in 1264. Celestine Macgillemichaell was a cleric of the diocese of Argyll in 1411, John Makmychell was burgess of Prestwick in 1507, whilst Johannes McMichell, king's tenant in Strathdee, was noted in the records of the chiefs of Grant in 1524. Other recordings include that of Robert Mcmichael and Katherine Laurie who were married in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on September 9th 1759, whilst William Macmichael was physician in ordinary to King William 1V in 1831. A coat of arms granted to the MacMichael family of Scotland has the blazon of a black shield charged with a fesse between three gold crescents. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malmur Mac Gillemichel. This was dated 1204, in the records of the perambulators of the lands of Balfeth in Angus, during the reign of King William, The Lyon of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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