This Scottish name derives from the Old Gaelic MacNeis, itself a dialectal form of "Aonghus", the modern "Angus". The name derived from two elements, "Aon" meaning "one", plus "ghus" meaning choice, - "The chosen one". The name was originally borne by a famous 8th Century warrior king of the Picts, said to be the son of Daghda, a Queen Goddess of the Irish, and her husband King Boann, who gave his name to the River Boyne. "Aonghus" himself gave his name to the former Scottish county, now part of Tayside.The Clan MacNish were once major landowners but in the Battle of Glenboltachan in 1522, they were virtually exterminated by the MacNabs, and the nameholders scattered. This action accounted for the various name spellings as MacNiesh, MacNich, McNess etc. The name recordings include Donald McNysche and his brother John, followers of the Earl of Cassilis, who in 1526, were remanded for murder but released. Later, in 1552, a James MakNeis is recorded as "a venerable and learned person" (in Glasgow). The name recordings as McNess or Mac(K)ness include William MacKness of Mulhill, Perth, on October 11th 1843, and the same person, with the "new" spelling two years later at the christening of his second son Francis (see below). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William McNess, which was dated November 16th 1845, a witness at the Episcopal Church, Mulhill, Perth, Scotland, during the reign of Queen Victoria, known as "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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