The Gaelic for this name is MacAsgaill, and was derived from the Old Norman personal name Askell. The name was brought into Scotland in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. It was a William MacAskill, probably a member of the family of MacCaskill of Ebost, who led the Clan Macleod against the fleet of Clanranald at Eynot, west of Skye in the sixteenth century. Donald M'Askle was a corporal in the Reay Fencibles in 1795, and Calum MacAsguill was the author of 'Bearnaraidh na-h-Earradh' written in the eighteenth century. Angul McAskill, born in Lewis, died in Cape Breton on August 8th 1863 in his thirty-eighth year. He was 7 feet 9 inches in height and was known as the Cape Breton Giant. ( One of his boots, 16 inches in length, is preserved in the Provincial Museum in Halifax). The Macasgills are known as Clann t-Asgaill. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland '. 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. Most of the European surnames 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.
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