The surname of DANIELS is a synonym of MacDonnell. This surname is one of the hundred most common in Ireland. Families of the name do not all share the same ancestry but will mainly derive from either the McDonnells, who came from Argyllshire in Scotland in the 13th Century to Ulster where they carved out a territory for themselves in County Antrim, or from the MacDomhanaill sept of County Fermanagh, or from the Mac Domhnaill sept in County Clare. In addition, a few who now bear the name may descend from Scottish settlers of the clan MacDonald, the two names cognate names having been confused. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward 11. (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. 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 major factor influencing the popularity of the given name was undoubtedly the dramatic story in the Book of Daniel, recounting the prophet's steadfast adherence to his religious faith. The name was also borne by a 2nd century Christian martyr and by a 9th century hermit, the legend of whose life was popular among Christians during the Middle Ages, and these had a minor additional influence on the adoption of the Christian name.
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