The surname of ENNIS is a Leinster surname which is found mainly in County Dublin, County Kildare, County Meath and County Westmeath. The name was derived from the Gaelic O'hAonghuis (the descendant of Angus). The name was written ENOS and ENNOUS in sixteenth century records, and in the census of 1659 the name is also spelt ENIS, ENNIS, ENNOS, ENNES and ENOS. The form ENOS is now obsolete but it was used until as late as 1720. The family suffered both under the Cromwelliam and Williamite regimes. In 1642 three of the name were attainted, two of Co. Wicklow and one of Kildare. A Lieutenant Hames ENNIS was a Royalist soldier of note at that time. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France 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. Two ecclesiastics of the name are notable; The Rev. Walter ENOS, author of 'Survey and Peace' (1646); Dr John ENNIS, the Dublin parish priest prominent in his part for the opposition to those bishops who were not in favour of the establishment of the Queen's Colleges in the year 1848. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. 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 1000.
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