This popular Irish clan surname is an anglicized spelling of the Gaelic "Mac Seain". Translating as "son of John", the name was introduced into Ireland in the 7th century a.d. "John" is the most popular of all the original Hebrew and later Christian given names. Every country in Europe has its examples, and it is estimated that there are over seven hundred spelling forms ranging from the original "Yochanan" though the medieval "Johann", to the patronymic and diminutives such as Johnson or Aujouanet, and the Czech Janvosky. It is not surprising that in such a religious nation as Ireland that the name should be prominent, but surprisingly the clan "MacShane" in at least three quite distinct and apparently, unrelated, septs. In Ulster and the county of Louth, the Mac Shanes, (the spelling varies throughout Ireland), are a branch of the famous O'Neills, who were originally the leading Irish clan. The County Westmeath McShanes, also recorded as Shane, were a branch of the O'Farrells, whilst in County Kerry, the name MacShane was assumed by the original Norman settlers Fitzmaurice, presumably in a show of (later) Gaelic solidarity. Examples of the surname recordings include William McShane, who was christened at Downpatrick, County Down, on April 29th, 1752, while Robert McShane was christened at St Pancras Old Church, London, on June 15th 1796. William McShane was an Irish Potato Famine refugee. He emigrated to America on the ship "Pacific of Liverpool", on January 20th 1847, with his wife Jane, and sons James and David, aged six and four. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dermot McShane, which was dated 1659, "Petty's census of Ireland", during the reign of Richard Cromwell, known as " The Lord Protector", 1658 - 1659. 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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