This most interesting surname, found in Scotland in the late 13th Century, has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a Donegal form of "MacKnight" (an Irish name, though not Gaelic in origin, which is the Anglicized form of "Mac an ridire", meaning "son of the knight", an Irish surname adopted by a branch of the Norman family of Fitzsimons, who were located in Co. Meath, in medieval times. Alternatively, the surname may sometimes be of Scottish origin, being an abbreviated form of "MacNaughton", which is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic "Mac Neachdainn", composed of the elements "mac", son of, and the personal name "Neachdain", from the Pictish "Nechtan", pure. Other spellings of the surname include McNaughtan, McNaughten, McNauchtan, McNeight, and McNutt. Cristinus McNawyche witnessed a charter by John de Meneteeche, lord of Arran and Knapdale, to the monastery of Kilwinning in 1357, according to the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland (1306 - 1668). Isabel MacNaught married Roger Austin on April 14th 1700 at Londonderry, and Dora McNaught married Cromwell Nicholson on July 30th 1733 at Downpatrick, Co. Down. One Pat McNaught, aged 29 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Windsor-Castle" bound for New York on June 9th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gillecrist MacNachtan, which was dated 1247, in the "Charters, Bulls and Other Documents Relating to the Abbey of Inchaffray", during the reign of King Alexander 11, Ruler of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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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