This Scottish surname was derived from the Gaelic M'Phail, a baptismal name meaning ' the son of Paul'. Gillemore M'Phale was one of an inquest at Inverness in 1414, and appears to be one of the first on record. Niven M'Phaill was a charter witness at Sonnachan, Argyll in 1488. Donald Makfaill and Gylleis Makfaill were witnesses to a contract of friendship between Dunbar of Westfield and the Clanchatten in 1492. Finlay MacChaell was the bailie of Rothesay in 1501, and appears again as Macfaill in 1503. In 1506 he received a grant of lands in Bute. Angus M'Phaill was recorded as the vicar of Killespickerell in Mukarne in 1583. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. 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. 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.
The arms depicted here are the arms of Clan Chattan
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