This surname of McCAIN was originally of Cahainges, a small spot in Normandy, France, and was brought into Ireland in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. It was taken by settlers, who became a leading sept in Ulster. The earliest of the name on record was William de Cahaignes a tenant in chief, listed in the Domesday Book of 1066. 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. This name was derived from the Gaelic O'CATHAIN, also rendered in English as CAHAN and KEANE, the name of a prominent West Ulster sept, whose chief, before the Plantation of Ulster, was Lord of Keenaght, now a barony in County Derry. The heaviest distribution of the name in Ireland, is still in Ulster where many families of the name survive in County Derry, in the neighbourhood of the ancient territory of their sept. The name is a short form, of the Welsh CAINDRYCH meaning 'beautiful'. Early records of the name mention KEINA Mater Berte, 1202, Ireland. Thomas KAYNE, was documented in 1307. Philips Watkins and Jane Cane were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year 1747. A notable member of the name was Elisha Kent Kane (1820-57) the American arctic explorer, born in Philadelphia. Entering the United States navy as a surgeon, he visited China, the East Indies, Arabia, and many other places. In 1850 he sailed as surgeon and naturalist with the first exhibition financed by Henry Grinnell in search of John Franklin. His account of it appeared in 1854. In 1853 he set out again as commander of a second arctic expedition (1853-55). Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and Ireland were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
The arms associated to the name are recorded in Sir Bernard
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