This long-established surname, normally recorded in the spellinfs of MacTaggart, McTaggart, and Taggart, is widespread throughout Scotland and Ulster. It is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "Mac an tsagairt", son of the priest, from "Mac", son of, and "tsagairt", the genitive of "sagart", the priest. The marriage of clerics in minor orders was permissible, but the marriage of priests had been declared illegal and invalid in the 12th Century, nevertheless the practice continued, though in some instances, the name may have been used to denote someone suspected of being the son of a priest. Early recordings include Donald McKyntagart of Dumfries, entered in the 1459 Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, and who had remission of his fine; William Maktygar "oratour and beidman" of "the Kingis hospitaile of the trinite college besyd" was recorded in Edinburgh in 1504, and Thomas McKyntaggart was a tenant in Strathdee in 1527. William MacTeggart, Dean of Derry (1606), was described as a "worthy man speaking Irish and Latin", and in 16th and 17th Century records of Counties Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh, Donegal, Armagh and Louth, the name appears as MacEtegart, MacTaggart and Ateggart. Ballymactaggart in the barony of Lurg, County Fermanagh, occupies the centre of the territory originally occupied by the sept. Recording examples include Patrick Taggart, a witness at Dumfries on March 31st 1544, whilst on February 27th 1702, Margaret McTaggart and James Lawrie were married at Edinburgh Parish church. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ferchar Mackinsagart, which was dated 1215, in the "Medieval Scottish Chronicles", during the reign of King Alexander 11 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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