Mack or McNamara?

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murf
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Mack or McNamara?

Post by murf » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:36 pm

In the 1901 census the residents of house number 81 of Clarecastle Village were William and Anne Mack and their five little Macks. The surname of the entire family is shown on the Household Return (Form A) as "Mack". On the House and building Return (Form B1) in house 81 is "William McNamara".
I came across other instances of McNamara being shortened to Mack in the Clondagad Baptism Register.
The 1901 census lists 23 Clare folk with the surname Mack, whilst in all Ireland there are 427.
I guess my question is this: Is Mack a legitimate surname in its own right or can we assume that it is always a shortening of McNamara??

smcarberry
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Re: Mack or McNamara?

Post by smcarberry » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:04 pm

Good question, always worth examining what seems to be a settled case of name shortening. Now that we have parish records that can be sorted to easily show what families were using the shortened form, it is possible to build a reasonable assumption. I went back to the Library's grouping of all instances of Mac or Mack appearing in my transcription of the Parish of O'Callaghan's Mills RC records (1835-1880)(thank you, Maureen Comber; see below). I then looked for other baptisms of a usual "Mc__" spelling with those couples had also used the short form. Not every listed Mac/Mack couple could be found among the long forms of a surname starting "Mc" but there are enough to indicate that it was a McNamara who used the short form. Interestingly, almost all the instances of a Mac/Mack entry occurred in the years prior to 1851, and most often a McNamara family used the short form if they lived in a very rural townland called Drominakela. Additionally, the last Mack entry (1876) involved McNamara from that townland.

This brief survey of one parish doesn't begin to answer the question whether it was the family who adopted the short form or whether it was the recording priest. In this parish, I saw several instances in which the long-serving PP (Fr. Patrick Quaid) seemed to used variant spellings to make a distinction among people of the same name, either personal name or surname. The fact that one McNamara family of one specific townland most often used the short form doesn't sway my opinion one way or the other.

Sharon Carberry
Mac bapts O'C Mills Parish.jpg
Mac bapts O'C Mills Parish.jpg (111.27 KiB) Viewed 9840 times

mgallery
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Re: Mack or McNamara?

Post by mgallery » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:03 pm

When I was growing up in West Clare the only surname I ever heard shortened to Mac was MacNamara
I dont think that means everyone called Mack came from MacNamara but I dont know.

Other surname shortenings Pilkington were known as Pelks.

I used to do student work in a vets. It took some explaining to know that if I got a call for Gus Pelk it would be filed under Austin Pilkington

Sduddy
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Re: Mack or McNamara?

Post by Sduddy » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:59 am

Yes, when I was a child in the 1950s all the McNamaras in my locality were called Mack, while all the McMahons remained McMahon. It was a revelation to discover later that all the Macks in County Cork were McCarthys.

I notice that by 1911 William Mack has died and that Annie is a widow and she is McNamara. Short forms of names were used quite a bit in 1901, e.g. Pat, Jim, Dan etc., but in 1911 people generally gave the formal version. The Irish version, Mac Conmara, was given by a few people.

Sheila

murf
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Re: Mack or McNamara?

Post by murf » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:06 pm

The civil birth records show that William and Annie McNamara of Clarecastle had their children registered under the name of McNamara.
A perusal of some surname websites suggests that "Mack" is a separate family name with its own particular history. It is most common in Scotland and certain English counties.
A search of the civil birth record over the period 1864-1900 brings up 853 cases of the Mack name for all Ireland. Most of these are concentrated in the large urban areas of Belfast Dublin Limerick and Nenagh. In County Clare, Macks are concentrated in East Clare, with the Reg District numbers being Tulla 51, Scarriff 33, Ennis 6, Kildysart 3, Kilrush 8, Ballyvaughan 1 and Corofin 3. Limerick, which had a total of 100, probably takes in a percentage of Clare cases also.
To determine how many of these may have been McNamaras in disguise would require a good deal of further study - perhaps a project for some intrepid Mac researcher??
In the meantime I guess that it's good to be aware of this abbreviation tendency when searching for that elusive missing Mac-.

ROJAMC42
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Re: Mack or McNamara?

Post by ROJAMC42 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:51 am

HI MURF

U WILL NOTE ON THE MACK 1901 CENSUS REFERENCED, i.e., In the 1901 census the residents of house number 81 of Clarecastle Village were William and Anne Mack and their five little Macks. The surname of the entire family is shown on the Household Return (Form A) as "Mack". TAKE A LOOK AT THE SIGNATURE ON THE FORM A. IT SHOWS MCNAMARA AND THE WRITING LOOKS DIFFERENT THAN THE "M" USED IN "MACK".

THAT'S JUST A QUICK ASSUMPTION.

murf
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Re: Mack or McNamara?

Post by murf » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:11 pm

That's right, the M's in the family name column are different to that in William's signature. However the M's in the married column are the same as the signature. So it looks like more than one person has been involved in completing the census form.

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