This surname of MACKEY is found predominantley in Ulster, where in the majority it is a variant of the Scottish settler name McKay, but it is known to have been assumed also by descendants of the Irish sept MacAodha. The name was derived from the Gaelic AODH, meaning 'Fire' and was originally the name of a Pagan God. Early records of the name in Scotland mention John M'Kee who was servant to John de Crauforde in 1460. Patrick Makkee had a grant of lands in Dunguild, Bute in the year 1506. A man named Lang Mcke was taken furth of the stokkis wherein he had been placed by the sherif-deute in Wigtoun, Scotland in the year 1513. The 'stokkis' were a now obsolete instrument of punishment in which the ankles of offenders were confined. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker.
It seems likely that the expression 'the real McCoy' originated with an American boxer, Norman Selby (1873-1940) who adopted the name 'Kid McCoy' as his professional name, and wished to distinguish himself from another fighter of the name name.
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