The surname of MacMURRAY is one of the twenty most common names in Ireland. A considerable number of them, particularly in Ulster, will be descendants of settlers who came over from Scotland. However, the name of several Irish septs of O'Muireadhaigh, the best known of which was located in Athlone Barony, County Roscommon, was anglicized as MORROW. Early records of the name mention William de Moravia, 1203, documented in Ireland. Alan de Morreff was recorded in the year 1317, ibid. 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 The name has many variants which include MURREY, MURRIE and MURRY. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. The Scottish family of Murray, the senior branch of which holds the dukedom of Atholl, can be traced to a Flemish settler, Hugh Freskin, who in 1130 obtained extensive grants of lands in Morayshire, from which the surname was taken. The earldom of Sutherland was granted to Freskin's grandson's, William Moray in 1235. A descendant who acquired lands at Tullibardine, Perthshire in 1284, used the name Sir William de Moravia. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
The associated coat of arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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