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Many visitors arrive on Electric Scotland looking for information on a Scottish or Irish name and also want to see if there is a clan affiliation with it.  Can I just say here that spelling of names can be a bit of a nightmare but do at least start by using our site search for the name.  Should you not be able to find anything then consider some options.

You should be aware that many Highlanders that emigrated to America were Gaelic speaking and hence spelling of their names was often incorrect. This has led to a whole variety of spellings so be prepared to check any alternatives you can think of.  Try saying the name out loud and imagine any other ways of spelling the name:-

If a name is not found look under other possible spelling variations such as "Lezly" as "Leslie" or "Montgomerie" for "Montgomery". "Gil" may have been "il" or "el". "Mc" and "M' " are simple abbreviations for "Mac". We do try to default to Mac for names that start with that prefix but you will find references to other spellings of Mc and M' and also a space between Mac and the name such as "Mac Intyre" under a number of our historical documents so do try these other spellings as well.

Since Gaelic requires sound changes when "Mac" is prefixed, try pronouncing the new name aloud substituting a new first letter on the second part of the name, and you may hear the original...

"b" or "m" for a "v" MacVean to MacBean, MacVickle to MacMichael.
"p" for an "f" MacFall to MacPaul
"d" for "g" or "t" MacGonell to MacDonell, MacLout to MacLeod

Gaelic "f" becomes silent after "Mac"; try reinserting it - MacLetcher to MacFletcher.

Do also try different possible spellings of names as many errors were made when immigrants landed in their new lands. Try saying the name out loud and try and imagine a different spelling.

Finally, I get thousands of emails asking if I can help find information on a name.  The very first thing I do is use my own site search engine. Should that not find the name then I'll also try any obvious alternative spellings of the name.  Should I still not find anything then I'll refer to the book "Tartan for Me" as that can up with a clan or district association.  The other book I refer to is Black's "Surnames of Scotland".  These are my basic sources of information. 

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 Article # 63
 Posted on 23 Jun 2008 03:18 AM
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