This ancient Irish surname is now quite rare. It derives from "O'Maolruadh" which translates as "the descendant of the red chief". This suggests that the name is a form of byname either for one who had red hair, or who had on his hands the blood of his enemy. It is also possible that the original clan with its branches in Ulster and Mayo was associated with the famous O'Neills who carry on their Coat of Arms the red hand of Ulster. The surname is now an Anglicized spelling and is recorded as Muldra (see below), Muldrow, Muldragh and Muldrew. It is sometimes confused with "Mulgrew", but in fact the root origin is quite different. The name recordings are quite rare; these include the following: John Muldragh of Downpatrick, whose daughter, Sophia, was christened on September 10th 1763; and Elizabeth Muldragh, christened at Armagh City on May 10th 1841. Archibald and Agnes Mulgrew were recorded at Kileon, Armagh, on January 3rd 1854, and James Muldrew married Mary Bratty at Mullabrack, Armagh, on November 20th 1861. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ellen Muldra, which was dated February 17th 1713, marriage to Robert Buy, at Downpatrick, County Down, during the reign of Queen Anne of England, known as "The Last Stuart Monarch", 102 - 1714. 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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