The distribution of this surname McCANNON is heaviest in County Donegal where descendants of the O'Cananaiin or O'Canain sept of that county adopted it as an anglicization of their Irish name, and in County Galway where descendants of the sept O'Canain, whose territory was in the southern part of that county, took the same uncommon surname in English but some families of the name in Ireland could be of settler descent. Originally CANNON was an official name 'the canon' an archdeacon, bishop or priest. A man of the cloth. Early records of the name mention John le Cannon 1273 County Oxford. 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. 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. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France 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. Other records of the name mention William Leghe and Alice Cannon who were married in London in the year 1527, and Jone, daughter of Jeames Cannone was baptised at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1570.
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