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. This surname is among the fifty commonest in both England and Scotland, is now widespread in Ireland where it was brought by settlers. It is found in all four provinces but much more frequently in Ulster. The arms registered at Lyne Shany, County Cavan. 1633. Killowning, County Tipperary, 1691, afterwards of Dublin. 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 name was originally brought into Ireland from settlers from Normandy, who accompanied William the Conqueror from France. The earliest of the name recorded is in the form ALAMNUS found on tenth century Breton coins, although the name was also spelt ALUNUS in the same century. Aleyn fitz Malcolm was recorded in the year 1296, and John Alleyn was documented in 1301. Thomas Ailen appeared as a charter witness in 1490. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
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