This notable Gaelic surname variously spelt MacCraith, MacRay, MacCray, MacCreath, MacReath, MacCrea, MacCraw, MacCree and MacCrie, and the short forms commencing "Mc", was originally a nickname. It derives from a "Mac Raith", which translates as "The son of the prosperous one" or similar, and derives from the ancient word "rat", meaning fortune. This name, inscribed as "Maqi Rati" on an ogham stone found at Keenrath, in the Irish county of Cork, may have been introduced into Scotland as early as the 5th Century A.D., when the Gaelic language was brought from Ireland. Alternatively, like many other old personal names, "MacRaith" may have arisen independently in different places and at various dates. Early examples of the surname recordings in Scotland include Macraith de Ospitali, who witnessed the gift of a church to the canons of Holyrood in the reign of Malcolm 1V of Scotland (1153 - 1165, and Dugall McRay, a charter witness at Kilmun, Aygyllshire, in 1576. The Irish surname MacGrath is etymologically akin to the Scottish forms and was introduced into Ulster by Scottish Planter families. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander MacRad, which was dated 1225, in the charters known as the "Cartularium Comitatus de Levenax", of Scotland. This was during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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