This most interesting and unusual surname is a variant of the Gaelic-Irish surname "Mullanphy, Malaniffe", which is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic "O Maolainbhthe, O'Maolanfaidh", which is composed of the Gaelic prefix "O", male descendant of, and a personal name meaning chief of the storm. The name has a number of variant spellings beginning with Me- and Mo-, as well as Mu-. Another source says that the surname is a metathesized form of "Mulvany", the Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O'Maoilmheana", meaning "devotee of the Meana" (now the river Main); the sept were located in County Derry. They were first recorded in the Annals of Ulster (see below), and the first namebearer was fourteenth in descent from Eoghan, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Early examples of the surname include the christening of Jane, daughter of John Melhinfye on February 28th 1574, at St. Mary Major in Exeter, Devonshire; the christening of Daniel Melampy, on February 28th 1752, at Holywell, in Flint, North Wales; the marriage of Anne Malanaphy and Thomas Gilmore, on August 20th 1861, at Enniskillen, Fermanagh; and the christening of John Melaniffe, on July 17th 1864, at Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Donal O'Maoil Mheana, which was dated 1164, in the "Annals of Ulster", during the reign of Irish High Kings in opposition, 1156 - 1166. 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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