The surname of GINNS is also as McGinn, Ging, MacGinn and Maginn. The name was a nickname, derived from the Irish MagFhinn, one with fair hair and complexion. The spelling McGinn is local to County Tyrone, the inland Ulster County, which derives its name from the Irish Tir Eoghain, having been anciently the territory of the Cinel Eoghain. The spelling MacGinne, is listed in the 'census' of 1659 as a principle Irish name in the barony of Oneilland, County Armagh, i.e. the territory which lies between Tyrone and Down. Early records of the name mention Henry Roger M'Ginn, 1191 Ireland. Walter McGinn 1221, ibid. The surnames in Ireland originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time, the clan system became less distinct, and surnames came to identify membership of what is called a 'sept'; a group of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. Adoption of the name by people who did not otherwise have a surname and by dependents was not uncommon. Just over one hundred years after the Norman Conquest of England, the first Normans arrived in Ireland. Richard de Clare, Second Earl of Pembroke (died 1176), was known as Strongbow. He was invited to Ireland by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, whose daughter he married, to help him in his wars with his neighbours. He was accompanied by several retainers whose name, like his own, have become well established as surnames in Ireland. The Normans established themselves in Leinster and paid homage to Henry II of England. Some of the Norman settlers acquired surnames derived from the Irish. Notable members of the name include William Maginn (1793-1842) who left Dublin in 1828 and became one of the foremost personalities in the literary and journalistic field in London. Edward Magin (1802-1849) was a Tyrone man, coadjutor Bishop of Derry and a staunch supporter of the more extreme Nationalists of his time. 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.
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