The surname of FINNEGAN and its variant Finnigan, at the end of the last century, were distributed in Leinster, Ulster, and Connacht. Families of this widespread name descend from one or other of the two O'Fionnagain septs. One was located in the north-east of County Roscommon, and the other on the ancient Kingdoms of Breffny and Oriel in the region where the counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Meath now meet. Early records of the name mention Fin Phin danus, 1086 in England. The name means 'fair'. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the father's Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (They were one of the Tribes of Hy Maine, in Connaught, formerly Mac Giolla Fionnagain: they possessed the territory of Clan Fhlaitheamhain, in the present day barony of Moycarnon, County Roscommon; the name is sometimes modernised into Finucane).
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