This unusual surname, of Irish and Scottish origin, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacPeice", son of Peic, itself a Gaelicized form of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal byname "Pica", from "pic", point, denoting a tall, thin person. Traditionally, Gaelic family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "Mac" meaning "son of", or "O", grandson, male descendant of. The MacPeice sept belonged to the province of Ulster, particularly to Counties Tyrone, Derry and Armagh, where the name is still widespread. In the process of Anglicization "MacPeice" has acquired many variant forms including: MacPeake, McPeak, McPike and McPeck, and the sept's association with Ulster is perpetuated in the placename Ballymacpeake in the barony of Loughinsholin (that part of County Derry adjoining County Tyrone). MacPeake appears as one of the principal Irish surnames in the 1659 Petty's "Census" of all Ireland, and a James M'Pike, born in Edinburgh circa 1750, emigrated to Baltimore, in America, about 1772. On July 14th 1846, Eliza McPeck, aged 18 yrs., a famine emigrant to New York, embarked from Liverpool on the ship "United-Kingdom" bound for that American port. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dermot MacPeake, which was dated 1603, in "A List of the Ulstermen who followed Rory O'Donnell to Connacht", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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