This surname MAGINNITY was derived from the Gaelic Mag Fhinneachta (a derivation of Finaghty). The name means 'Fair-Snow'. They were a Donegal sept, now quite numerous both as Ginty and Genty in north Connacht. MacGinty and MacGenty occur in County Monaghan as synonyms of the latter. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. The sept originated in Donegal, but is now more numerous in Connacht, probably because of the great migration of families during the Plantation of Ulster in 1607. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name is one Jervis McEntee who was born in 1828. He was the American landscape painter of Irish ancestry, and it is possible that the name went to America during the great Famine in Ireland in the 1840's. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name.
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