Isle of Man Names Personal

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Understanding given names and surnames can help you trace your ancestors. This is particularly true once the origin of the name has been established.


Manx surnames have several main sources, but are often cognate with Irish and Scottish ones, when from Manx Gaelic, or are imported from England. In the case of Gaelic surnames, the Mac (son of) prefix which is so common in neighbouring countries is elided to C- (e.g. Crennel), K- (e.g. Karran) or Q- (e.g. Qualtrough)

The nobility and wealthy land owners first began using surnames. Merchants and townspeople adopted the custom, as eventually did the rural population. This process took several centuries. In the case

Surnames developed from several sources and include the following types:

  • Occupational: based on a person’s trade, such as -
    • Teare (a joiner or carpenter)
  • Geographic: based on a person’s residence (not always a Manx location)-
    • Hampton, Radcliffe, Stanley
  • Patronymic, based on a person’s father’s name -
    • Callister (son of Alastair, cognate with MacAllister), Crennel (son of Ranald), Faragher (son of Fearchar or Farquhar), Quayle (son of Paul - cognate with MacPhail), Qualtrough (son of Walter)
    • Nelson, Stowell, Watterson (son of Walter)
  • Descriptive or nickname, often referring to hair colour or complexion -
  • Ethnic origins
    • Cretney (MacVretnee, son of the Welshman or Brython)
  • Ecclesiastical, many beginning with Myl- (MacGhille-/Maol-)
    • Clague, Mylchreest (servant of Christ), Taggart (priest)
    • Bell, Christian

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