This surname (found occasionally without the prefix Mac) belong in Ireland, to descendants of early Scottish settlers who had established themselves in the Glens of Antrim in the 13th century, and who took the Irish name of MacEorin in lieu of their own surname Bissett, and of Irish septs named MacEoghain and Mac Eorin. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the eleventh century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Ninian M'Keun, who was a witness in Lanarkshire in 1513. David M'Kowne was a notary in Glasgow in the same year, and John M'Kewne appears in 1643. Andrew M'Keun was a shoemaker in Kirkcudbright in the year 1750. Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker.
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. 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'.
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