Recorded as MacIlhench, McIlhench, McIlhaunch, M'Ilhench, Malhinch, and today usually Milhench, this is a Gaelic and Scottish surname. It is said to originate from the county of Wigtownshire in South West Scotland, and rarely to be found anywhere else. Certainly it is rarely found in the various dictionaries of surnames, and even when it does appear no explanation is offered for the meaning or origin. It is occasionally to be found in Northern Ireland, which is hardly surprising given the geographical closeness of Scotland and Ireland at Wigtownshire. In Gaelic the word "ilmhaoineach" means rich in many things, or even abounding in wealth, and whilst we cannot prove this as the origin, given that almost all early Gaelic names were a form of nickname, to be called the son (mac) of the rich man, would seem to be a logical development. It is said that the first recordings are in Wigtown, but if so the earliest that we have been able to prove on the International Genealogical Index is in 1746. This was when Anthony Milhench married Jean Cleave at Glasserton, on April 22nd of that year. It is reasonable to suggest that given that many Scottish surnames date back to the medieval period after 1066, that much earlier examples of recordings remain to be found.
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