The surname of MACKIRDY was a common name in the islands of Arran and Bute. The first people in Scotland to aquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. In 1506 Gilcrist Makwrerdy held the lands of Bransar in Bute, and Finlay Makvreirdy had sasine of Brothok there in the same year. Sir James M'Wartye, appears as vicar of Kingarth in Bute in 1554.
Mr James M'Curdie (1790-1887) was minister of Kilbride in Arran. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The name is also spelt MacKirdy, Macurdy and McKirdie.
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