This surname of LYCETT which before the 20th century movements of population, was found in Munster, mostly in County Clare and County Limerick is derived from the Irish Mac Giolla Iasachta, the name given to one branch of the O'Briens of Thomond. The existance of the family in Ireland today is rare. 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. 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.
The name has been given the meaning as 'strange youth', but Iasachta always conveys the idea of 'loaned' so the family tradition that the first of the name was a fourteenth century O'Brien transferred for some purpose to another north Clare sept is probably not without foundation. The name has ramified strongly and the variant spelling of Lysaught is found in America. 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.
The associated coat of arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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