Please reply to MO...@dlep1.itg.ti.com
>I was told a long time ago that Mac was a Scottish prefix in front of
>most name meaning the "son of". Some time later I was told that Mc was
>an Irish prefix meaning about the same thing. Is there a difference and
>if so what is the real difference between these two prefixes?
There's no difference. And there are many different theories as to
what circumastances each are used, and most of them are poppycock.
There's been a great deal of discussion about it in this newsgroup in
Many people believe Mc=Irish/Catholic and Mac=Scottish/Protestant, but
in fact you'll find a lot more Mcs than Macs in Scottish phone books.
And when I did a full analysis of all Mc/MacGibbons in the Old
Parochial Registers, I found that 97% of them were spelled Mc. Yet
probably 97% of them were non-Catholic.
I suspect that Mac may have been the original prefix, in Scotland at
least, and laziness or convenience - call it what you will - is the
main reason Mc is more common now.
Incidentally, my Free Church Presbyterian family were McGibbons in
Scotland, but changed their spelling to Mac a few years after they
emigrated to New Zealand in 1849. I've never been able to find out
exactly why, but my pet theory is that they did it because they were
highly religious, uptight bigots who didn't want to be identified with
a reprobate whaler living nearby, called Tiger McGibbon.
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Business phone 64-4-473 3177 ; Business fax 64-4-499 9062
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There is no difference. It has nothing to do with being either Irish or
Scottish. It has to do with census takers, list makers and Ellis Island
Immigration officers being lazy, stupid or short on paper space. In some
records it is even further abbreviated thusly: *M'Whatever*, by only using
an apostrophe! Mac or Mc does indeed mean "son of".
There's no difference at all. They both mean "son of". Our ancestors were
somewhat more relaxed about spelling than we are, largely because their
records were written by ministers and clerks, most of whom used the
spleeings they considered appropriate. Mac/Mc is an easy one - on my
family tree I've got Gowrie/Gaurie, Kemlo/Gamlow/Kemley,
Bawdy/Baldie/Baude , and so on. If you're doing scottish genealogy, you
need a sort of "fuzzy spelling" mode!