Thursday, May 7, 2009

McCain Family Research update May 2009

No good deed goes unpunished.
Clare Boothe Luce

I took the common sense precaution of posting the above quote from Clare Boothe Luce as it is my observation that Mrs Luce was probably referring to working on family history and genealogy when she made the quote.

I've been having the best time doing our McCain family research the last three months or so. Several things have made this so: there are now online some hard to obtain primary sources that directly relate to the McCain family in Ireland. These are collections of reports, letters, etc., written by a wide range of officials in Ireland to each other and to the Crown. The years of interest to me are circa 1750 to 1610. This is because I am trying to ascertain when the first McCains of our family settled in Ireland.

Right now, if I had to name a year, it would be 1569, possible 1570, or 71. This is when several large groups of families moved from mid Argyll, from the townships in which the McCains were living, to east Donegal. The first listing of the surname McCain by any spelling that I can find is from a list compilied in the year 1609, but in reference to events that happened in 1605 to 1607.

I have also had some interesting email traffic from a historian in Ulster, that knowing I am hunting for data on 'Redshank' Scots in east Donegal, sends me primary source material on this topic. He has sent some gems too.

When I have some spare time I will write this all up and post it as I think a pretty good history can now be constructed of our McCains using these source materials now available.

More news: on the orthogrophy front, the name Ean and then in the genitive Eáin, is the root of our surname. It from the Latin, Iohannes and said to be a variation of the surname Mac Eóin. I made an interesting discovery that in the 1300s, 1400s, 1500s, when we took that surname, that the northern Spanish form of Iohannes was also Ean.

Gaelic is rich with forms of the Latin name Iohannes. You have Seán, Seathán, Eóin, Eáin, and post 1700, Iain. Seán (said both Shawn and Shane depending on dialect) is loan word from French, from Jean, which again goes back to the Latin Iohannes.

I think a valid path of research would be to see if there might be any connection between the northern Spanish name Ean and the Gaelic name Ean. Is it possible that this form was borrowed, like Seán was?

In Spannish and Portugese, you see this name written Eanes and Eannes. the suffix of es means 'son of' like our 'Mac.' So Eannes means Son of John as does Mac Eáin. In modern Spanish you see this surname written Yanes, Yáñes, etc.