The surname of MACALPIN is a contraction of Mac Alpin, a baptismal name, the son of Alpin. The name is derived from the Gaelic Mac Ailpin a Scottish name which was taken to Ireland by settlers, and now numerous in Ulster. The name is spelt as CALPIN in County Mayo. 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. Early records of the name mention John MacAlpyne, documented in 1260 in Scotland and Monach filius Alpini witnessed a charter in 1271. Malcolm Macaplyne witnessed a charter by Duncan, the earl of Levenax in 1395, and Sir John Macalpyn was a chaplain in the same year. Mordac Makcalpy of Scotland, at the special request of his cousin, Mordak of Fyfe, was granted permission from the King of England to attend the schools of Oxford and Cambridge in the year 1405. Thom M'Calpy appears as a member of the town council in Stirling in 1531.
The appellation 'Clan Alpine' has been given to a number of clans situated at considerable distances from each other, who have hitherto been supposed to possess a common descent from Kenneth Macalpine, the ancestor of a long line of Scottish kings. These clans are Clan Gregor, the Grants, Mackinnons, Macquarries, Macnabs and Macaulays.
Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth.
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