Families named MacCONNELL are found mainly in Ulster where as many as ninety per cent of them were living at the end of the last century. They are not of the same stock as the southern O'Connells as their name is used for the Irish Dhomhnaill. In Scotland the name is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic DOMHNALL, from the personal name CONALL. The name is also spelt Mac CONAILL, McCONNEL, McCONNAL and Mc WHANNELL. In Scotland the name occurs mainly in the shires of Argyll, Ayr and Wigtown, and William Mc CONILL, in the parish of Urray was charged with being an engager on the royalist side in 1649. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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