This ancient surname is said to be of Manx and Scottish origins, although also later well recorded in the province of Ulster, in Ireland. It is a development of the pre 10th century Old Gaelic name "Mac Aodha", derived from "Mac" meaning "son of " plus the personal name "Aodh" meaning "fire", and originally the name of a Celtic god. Recorded in at least fifteen spellings including: MacKea, MacKee, MacKey, McKie, MacKie, McKee, and McCoy, there are many early references and recordings. These include Gilcrist M'Ay, said to be the progenitor of the famous Mackays of Ugadale, and to whom Robert 1st of Scotland granted lands in Kintyre in circa 1326.Less happily Vthreid McKie of Innnermessene, was in the year 1606 accused of "slaughter", although it seems was later aquitted. Other examples of the name recording taken from surviving church registers include: William MacKie, who was christened at Edinburgh on March 4th 1682, whilst Thomas, the son of John Hay MacKay was christened in Edinburgh on December 28th 1865. Patrick McKay aged 22 yrs, was a famine emigrant. He sailed on the ship "Shakespeare" from Liverpool to New York on March 14th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cucail Mac Aedha. This was dated 1098, in Moore's "Manx Names", during the reign of King Edgar of Scotland, 1096 - 1107. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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