Isle of Man Names Personal

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Understanding given names and surnames can help you trace your ancestors. This is particularly true once the origin of the name has been established.

Indigenous Manx names tend to be predominately Gaelic in origin, with some Norse, Norman and English input as well. Because of the low population of the country (currently round about 70,000), and a large influx of people during the 19th and 20th centuries, surnames from elsewhere are particularly common.

Surnames[edit | edit source]

Manx surnames have several main sources, but are often cognate with Irish and Scottish ones, when from Manx Gaelic, or are imported from England. In the case of Gaelic surnames, the Mac (son of) prefix which is so common in neighbouring countries is elided to C- (e.g. Crennel), K- (e.g. Karran) or Q- (e.g. Qualtrough)

The nobility and wealthy land owners first began using surnames. Merchants and townspeople adopted the custom, as eventually did the rural population. This process took several centuries. In the case

Surnames developed from several sources and include the following types:

  • Occupational: based on a person’s trade, such as -
    • Gawne (a smith, cognate with McGowan), Gill (a servant), Teare (a joiner or carpenter, cognate with McIntyre)
  • Geographic: based on a person’s residence (not always a Manx location)-
    • Hampton, Maddrell (a location in Lancashire, England), Moffatt (Dumfriesshire, Scotland) Radcliffe, Stanley
  • Patronymic, based on a person’s father’s name -
    • Callister (son of Alastair, cognate with MacAllister), Cannon (son of Cannanan, contracted from MacCannanainy), Crennel (son of Ranald), Faragher (son of Fearchar or Farquhar), Quayle (son of Paul - cognate with MacPhail), Qualtrough (son of Walter)
    • Bridson, Garret (Gerard or Gerald), Nelson, Stowell, Watterson (son of Walter)
  • Descriptive or nickname, often referring to hair colour or complexion -
    • Beg (little), Doan (brown haired)
    • Black, Brown, White
  • Ethnic origins
    • Cretney (MacVretnee, son of the Welshman or Brython)
  • Ecclesiastical, many beginning with Myl- (MacGhille-/Maol-) or Gil-
    • Clague, Gelling (Gille Iain, servant of John), Joughin (MacJaghin, son of the deacon), Mylchreest (servant of Christ), Mylvreeshey (servant of St Bride), Taggart (priest)
    • Bell, Christian

See also[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]