A new sub-clade named A223, downstream of R-M222>S660, was discovered in 2014 through Next Generation Sequencing of the Y Chromosome.  Through collaborative efforts among the R-M222 genetic genealogy community and geneticists, further subdividing sub-clades downstream of A223 have been identified and named:  A224/5 and A822/3.  Others may soon follow, adding to the rich diversity of this new haplogroup that is increasingly demonstrating an association with the west and southwest of Scotland and to a lesser extent parts of the north of Ireland and England. This particular haplogroup contains a number of recognisable surnames attached to the regions already mentioned, such as, Ferguson, Kennedy, Milligan/Milliken, McIlveen, Cannon, McKinney, McKean, Frew and Glass. However, few A223 genetic testees have a pre-1700 paper trail though most have strong surname histories, such as the Milligans in Nithsdale and Kirkcudbrightshire. The A223 SNP is one of several S660 subclades found in the west and south-west of Scotland, e.g. DF85 and FGC4133 (open this link for more details). Among the surnames currently being researched, a few might well be linked to medieval clans in south-west of Scotland, including, the Clan Afren (McGhie/McKies) and Clan Kennedy, which pre-date the fourteenth century.    


Within the Milligan/Milliken DNA Project, it was known for some time that there were two major M222 branches, which share a common ancestor pre-dating Molegan of Nithsdale. In effect, it was realised only one of these two sub-groups, called Exploratory R-M222 subgroup A and B, could represent the original genetic line traced from Malgon, the eponym of the lineage name Amuligane.   With that in mind, one of the Projects aims has been to establish which of the two sub-groups is directly descended from Molegan and the Amuligane lairds of Blackmyre.  In July 2014, after testing with FTDNA’s Big Y, the project had its first major breakthrough when two members from ‘sub-group A’, Milligan (kit no. 135550) and Milligan (12068), were assigned a SNP named FGC4133. A few months later in October, 2014, the author, Milliken (23702) from Sub-group B was confirmed A223 that is assessed parallel to FGC4133 (consider them as brothers). Since then other members have been tested, which has resulted in further branching discoveries and a new Haplotree is now being developed.  To date, all the FGC4133 Milligans and Milliken’s tested are in Exploratory R-M222 subgroup A, and those assigned to A223 are all found in Exploratory R-M222 subgroup B.  Both the FGC4133 and A223 Amuligane branches have paper trails going back to Nithsdale and both share a long and established history with the Griersons of Aird in the parish of Tynron and of Lagg in the parish of Dunscore in Nithsdale. Significantly, since then several Grierson researchers have also been confirmed FGC4133.

On 4 November, 2014, Iain Kennedy (R-M222 citizen scientist) reported a new branch under A223 defined by two SNPs A822 and A823, found between McKinney (7213) and the author.  The following day, Iain Kennedy reported another new branch at point A743, also known as A892-4, found between Milligan (235983) and Milliken (23702), located downstream of A822/3. To this was added yet another important discovery made between McKenny (7213) and Cannon (181988), who shared five novel variants, as reported on 31 December, 2014, by David Wilson, founder of the R-M222 Haplogroup Project.  Data analysis of four of the novel variants by Iain Kennedy using their respective BAM. files, identified the SNP names, e.g. BY587, BY588, BY589 and BY590, shortened to BY587-90. The discovery of these two branches will almost certainly lead to new genealogical insights and to the time of the Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) between the A743 Amuliganes and McKinneys. This link opens a PDF format to a series of early McKinney documents attached to the district of Nithsdale and in particular, the parish of Dunscore, where the oldest proven A743 family, the Amuliganes of Dempsterston, can be traced and documented from the first half of the 1500s.

Another important discovery was reported on 13 January, 2014, when Iain identified A1774/5, a new subclade downstream of A224/A225.  It was found between two surnames long associated with the south-west of Scotland, McIlveen (223269) and Kennedy (N118456), and both surnames have a strong attachment with Ayrshire. The Mcilvains or Mcilveens of Grimmet in the parish of Straiton are a well established family with a history that can be traced back to the 1400s in Ayrshire and like many Scots, some of their descendents settled in Ireland in the 1600s. During this period, thousands of Scots migrated into Ulster for which the plantation of Ulster under by King James I of England and VI of Scotland was but only one part. Many settled in County Antrim and County Down, and other parts of Ireland, which were not part of the official plantation scheme in 1610, with peaks migration after 1650. In his study on Movement of British Settlers into Ulster during the Seventeenth Century, Dr. W. A. Macafee, it cites figures based on Government reports in 1672 that of the estimated 100,000 Scots present in Ireland, 80,000 of them had arrived after 16501. The greater number of Scots settled in Ulster adding to the growing number of Presbyterians, who had descended from communities with a strong sense of kinship and attachment to the old Scottish medieval structures of clanship. For further details see the following article posted by the University College Cork: The Scots Migration to Ulster


That the Gaelic structure of clanship survived in the south-west of Scotland well into the fourteenth century is not in doubt.  In his studies on the ‘Kenkynolle’, the Gaelic ‘cenn ceneoil’, meaning ‘head of the kindred’, Hector MacQueen has demonstrated that this traditionally Gaelic kin-based form of lordship survived longer in Carrick and Galloway.  It involved the protection of the kin by their head or captain2. These captains exercised their protection by enforcing compensation for homicide or injuries inflicted on the kin by a member of another kindred.  In return, they were entitled to tribute or rights of food render and hospitality.  In Carrick, as head of their kindred, these men would have been accountable to the earl of Carrick and his successors.  Other kin-groups are known to have existed in Galloway and Nithsdale.  King David II (1329-1371) issued three charters of captaincy about the same time, if not on the same day, conferring the captaincy of the Clan Muntercasduff in the earldom of Carrick on John MacKennedy; the captanus and parentela of the clan of ‘Clenconnan’ on Gilbert MacGillolane and the captanus and parentela of the clan of ‘Kenelman’, otherwise Kenclanen, on Michael MacGorth3. Later the king would confirm the captainship of the Clan MacGowan to Donald Edger, one of the sons of Richard Edgar, lord of Sanquhar in Nithsdale4.

Richard Torrence has suggested Gilbert MacGillolane might be the same ‘Gilbert son of Dovenald MacKane’, the senior branch of the MacGillollane’, mentioned in his son John’s charter in 13295. The first element in ‘Clenconnan’ - ‘Clen’ is the Gaelic clann, meaning children either in the sense of a sept or clan, that is, the descendants of the real or supposed progenitor of a clan. The identity of Connan remains unclear, but significantly, a family bearing the name Acannan lived in the parish of Balmaclellan, meaning, Baile (Scottish Gaelic) ‘homestead’ of mac Gille Fhaolain (St. Fillan) in the Glenken district of Galloway and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright6. This parish and the village of Balmaclellan take their name from the MacGillolanes, whose earliest known leader or chief, Sir Cane MacGillolane appears to have held important offices under the Balliol lords of Galloway and extensive land holdings throughout the south-west of Scotland in 12737.

D.V. Cannon and R. C. Reid’s article, The Cannan Family in Galloway, still remains the principal source of history on the Acannan or Cannon family in Galloway8.  The earliest reference is traced to Nevin Cannan, who with others, is mentioned in a Crown Remission dated 18 April, 1477, for the slaughter of Gilbert Rorison probably of Bardannoch in the parish of Glencairn in Nithsdale. They suggest the surname Cannon may well have come over from Ireland and draw attention to the name O’Cananain found in the Northwest of Ireland, where this family were once chiefs in Co. Donegal.  However, neither Cannon nor Reid appears to have considered an alternative explanation, which places the origin of the Acannans in Galloway and not in Ireland.  Furthermore, they do not explain the use of the prefix ‘A’, found in a number of other surnames in the south-west of Scotland, including the old lineage name ‘Amuligane’ also spelt as ‘Amullikin’. This is the old Scots Gaelic form of Milligan and Milliken, and modern research has confirmed it originated in Nithsdale, where Malgon witnessed a charter by Edgar, son of Dovenald, lord of Nithsdale, conveying the church of Morton to Kelso Abbey on the Scottish Borders c. 12109.

In his article The Celts (British and Gael)10, Prof. W. J. Watson suggested the Welsh ap in ‘Macrath ap Molegan’ appears to represent the initial ‘A’ found later in Cuthbert Amuligane in Nithsdale (1437-40)11, Gilbert Amuligane in Balmaclellan (1456-60)12, Thomas Amuligane, chaplain of Wigtown (1471-74)13, who is possibly the same Thomas Amuligane, burgess of Dumfries (1485)14. Macrath’s name first appears in the Ragman Roll on 28 August, 1296, and secondly, a few days later as ‘Makerathe Molgan’ when he had his lands in the sheriffdom of Dumfries restored to him15. The Welsh word for son is 'ap' or 'ab' (shorten from “map” or “mab”), depending on whether it precedes a vowel or a consonant. Early examples of the patronymic and style exist in Wales, such as, Madoc ap Mailgun, hanged for the murder of William de Mora, and ‘Rhys ab Vaughan son of Rhys ab Mailgun’, which in the same text is contracted to ‘Rhys Vaughan son of Rhys Amelgun’, the ‘ab’, being shortened to ‘A’.  Rhys’ ancestor, Mailgun ap Rhys, was lord of Ceredigion 1199-1230, and is styled by King John of England as ‘Mailgon son of Rhys’ in a charter dated 11 April 119916. Ap and ab have survived in a number of modern Welsh surnames, where the initial ‘p’ or ‘b’ has been prefixed to a given name. For example, ap Evan is Bevan, ap Rhys is Price, ap Hywel is Powell and ap Richard is Prichard.

There are several other notable examples in the south-west of Scotland, e.g. Adonnan, Agnew, Ahannay and Askolok in Wigtownshire; Acarson, Ashennan and Asloan in Kirkcudbrightshire;  Adowell and Ahair in Ayrshire; Adrain on the Island of Kintyre. The earliest example of the initial 'A' in south-west Scotland appears in the name of Gillenef Accoultan who witnessed a gift by Roger de Skelbrooke, a knight of Earl Duncan of Carrick, to Melrose Abbey c.119617. He is the same, Gillenef Okeueltal who witnessed a gift of certain lands in Kersban, now called Carsphairn, by Thomas Collville de Kers in Ayrshire to Melrose Abbey sometime between 1202 and 120618. The old name Accoultan was still present in Galloway as late as 1513, when Thomas Acoltane was accused of oppressing Sir David Kennedy. Maurice Acarson, appointed bailiff of the Isle of Man in 1256 by Alexander III (1249-86), king of Scots, is the same Mauricius Okarefair mentioned in the Chronicle of Lanercost19. Maurice probably headed a family group that included Robert Carson, a cleric, who witnessed a charter to the abbey of Cultram in Cumbria, England, circa 1276, and as Sir Robert de Carson, parson of Kirkandrews in Kirkcudbrightshire, in the Ragman Roll in 1296.  

In his book Galloway Gossip, Dr. Robert Trotter refers to an old tradition still believed by some at the turn of the 1900s that those with the surname beginning with 'A' - it should be said that the 'A' was dropped from Amuligane early in the 1600s - came originally from Ireland, an observation based on their physical features. These people are described as “awesome Eerish-lookin”!! He goes on to mention a rather peculiar, or to use his own word ‘queer’ belief that whilst the Irish used the first letter in the word 'Ua', modified to 'O', the Gallovidians used the second letter 'A', prefixed to a given name20. Could this old tradition contain an element of truth, perhaps explained in terms of a local accommodation reached between the native Gaelic and Brythonic-speaking peoples of Scotland? Trotter is not the only writer to suggest the initial 'A' appears to mean ‘descendant of’, George F. Black also ascribes a similar meaning to  Acannan and Adrain, Ahair, etc21. Edward MacLysaght thought the prefix 'A' in the Irish surname Aherne, an anglicised form of old Irish ‘O’ hEachthigheirn, meant the same22. In his book Some Ulster Surnames, Padrig Mac Giolla Domhnaigh clearly believed the initial 'A' meant the same as the Irish 'O'. In his comment on the surnames Milligan and Milliken, he goes one step further than most scholars, and substitutes the initial 'O' for 'A' by suggesting these surnames were of the ‘O’ Septs in Galloway, and were common in Dumfriesshire and in Northeast Ulster23.


There is an intriguing cluster of Amuligane-Acannan-McKinneys in the Glenken district of Galloway with a shared link to the Amuliganes and McKinneys in Nithsdale. In the A743 Milligan/Milliken branch of the R-M222 Exploratory sub-groups, we have two members with a shared paper trail going back to William Amuligane in Dempsterton, who lived in the first half of the sixteenth century. This family can be linked directly to the parish of Balmaclellan, where an old McKinney-Cannon cluster also appears in the sixteenth century.   After the forfeiture of the earldom of Galloway from James, earl of Douglas, by King James II in 1455, the king appointed William, abbot of Dundrennan, chamberlain of Galloway, a jurisdiction that effectively covered the Stewartry of Kirkcudbrightshire and sheriffdom of Wigtown. The following year, he produced a long list of rents and fees due to the crown. His accounts also included payments made by the king and amongst these we find the record of £32 paid by William, Abbot of Dundrennan, for 37 cows and a bull bought by the abbot and left remaining with Gilbert Amuligane in Balmaclellan in 145624. This Gilbert was called ‘keeper of king’s unbroken horses’ in 1459 and 1460, when the abbot paid him 4 bolls of oat flour for his yearly fee25. At the time, Vedast Grierson of Lagg, next to Dempsterton in the parish of Dunscore, was landlord of the 12 merkland of Balmaclellan.  It seems very likely, Gilbert was the same Gilbert Malygane, who with Vedast Grierson and his son Gilbert, William Gordon and others, witnessed the sasine infefting George Cunningham, lord of Belton, in the lands and barony of Snade in the parish of Glencairn in 147226.

The Amuligane lairds of Blackmyre, near Penpont in Nithsdale, came to possess two farms in the district of Glenken, which were held directly from the crown, through the marriage of Cuthbert Amuligane to Marion McNaucht, one of the two co-heiresses of Andrew McNaucht of Crogo in the parish of Balmaclellan. He died in 1485. However, it was not until 1498, Marion and Cuthbert obtained one half of the 10 merkland of Crogo in the parish of Balmaclellan and 5 merkland of Holm of Dalquhairn in the parish of Carsphairn (Dalry). The location of the principal Amuligane medieval landholdings can be identified in Map 1 below: Strathmilligan (Milligan’s vale), Cormilligan, Blackmyre, Crawston (Macrath’s farmtoun), Milliganton and Dempsterton in Nithsdale and Crogo and Holm of Dalquhairm in Glenken. I have also listed the original farm belonging to the Griersons, modern Aird, in the parish of Tynron, and modern Lagg, which was acquired by Gilbert Grierson of Aird from John McRath of Laight in c.1406; the two farms held by the McKinneys; Glenshimmeroch in the parish of Dalry and Crae Hill in the parish of Balmaghie; and two of the farms held by the Acannans, Killochy in the parish of Balmaclellan and Mardroquhat in the parish of Dalry.

From the earliest times in Galloway, the letter “k” in McKinney and McKenney was spelt with and used interchangeably with the letter “c” in McCanne or McCanny.  In both styles, remarkably, McKenne and McCanny have been preserved in the place-name Ironmacannie near Balmaclellan, where it first appears as Ern Canny in 1408; from then onwards, it takes several forms, including, Armakewne, Arnmakennie and Ironmacannie. In 1408, Archibald, fourth earl of Douglas, lord of Galloway, granted to Alexander Gordon ‘the lands of Schyirmes, le Park, le Contrefe, Ern Canny, Ern Macnelly, Ern MacCathy and Ern Macquilwhinny in the lordship of Galloway, the barony of Balmaclellane and constabulary of Kirkcudbright. To be held forever for one attendance yearly at one court to be held immediately after Easter at the principal place of the said barony’27. The element Ern, the Scottish Gaelic erann, means a portion, and the four place-names beginning with the element Ern seem to echo portions of land inherited by the Canny, Macnelly, MacCathy and Macqilqwhinny28. Ern Canny was one of four properties comprising the 12 merkland of Balmaclellan documented in a royal confirmation of a grant by Vedast Grierson of Lagg to John M’Lelane identified as the ‘son of Dungal Johnson’ in 146629. The 12 merkland was particularised as the lands of ‘Armakcwne (Ironmacannie), Trechanis (Troquhain), Blaranny (Blairinnie) and Blackcraig (see map 2 below).


Dating the Time to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) between the Milligan/Milliken A743 branch and the Cannon and McKinney branches will go some way to estimating when these three groups shared a common ancestor and relationship with the other surnames found in the newly identified A223 Haplogroup.  Within this haplogroup, there are essentially two branches of Cannons and both share the A822 SNP: for the purpose of this study the first group is classified as Cannon (13-24-14) and the second is known as Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14). The numbers in the brackets represent the allele values at the genetic markers DYS 393, 390 and 394. Using estimates calculated by Susan Hedeen, Project Administrator, and a separate comparison run through the McGee Utility Tool, an interesting set of results emerge between these three groups.

From the Milligan/Milliken DNA Project, I selected surnames confirmed and predicated A743, also known as A892-4, and for the Cannon (13-24-14), I selected results from the Cannon Surname Y-DNA Project that as far as I know descend from John Cannon of Newberry District, South Carolina, who died in 1763. I made one exception, given the close match with the Watts kit no. 133335, I included this result.  Finally, for the Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14) group, I selected results from the McKinney DNA Project that were confirmed and predicted to be BY587-90. The comparison included 37, 67 and 111 marker tests at 25 and 30 years per generation. The results below are averages between Susan's and those produced on the McGee Utility Tool:

Milligan/Milliken A743 Group

111 markers with margins between 1335 and 1555, median = 1445

67 markers with margins between 1390 and 1600, median = 1495

Cannon (13-24-14) Group

111 markers (McGee Utility) with margins between 1475 and 1700, median = 1600

67 markers with margins between 1440 and 1760, median = 1600


Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14) Group

111 markers (McGee Utility) with margins between 1725 and 1800, median = 1762

67 markers with margins between 1605 and 1805, median = 1705

Based on the above estimates, Milligan/Milliken A743 branch share a common ancestor in the mid 1400s; the Cannon (13-24-14) to about 1600 and the Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14) sometime in the first half of the 1700s.  The median for the Cannon (13-24-14) group is interesting as the estimated age to the common ancestor is earlier than the actual birth date of John Cannon by over 100 years.  If there is a SNP mutation, it is very likely it mutated before John Cannon, but we would need more information on a possible secondary branch. There might be scope for further testing through the Dobson and Burne family. The Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14) is a more cohesive group. The picture emerging here so far would suggest that in order for these three groups to have evolved and matured, a reasonable period must have lapsed between the founder ancestor of A822 and the common ancestor for each group. Currently, the estimated age for the A822 SNP mutation, calculated by Susan Hedeen is dated to c.1050 with margins between 870 and 1230. This timeframe may change as more people are tested and confirmed A822.

The critical period for genealogical research lies between 1200 and 1600, when the surnames Amuligane, Acannan and McKinney most likely evolved from their respective eponym and lineage-names.  During this period, the A743 branch of the Amuligane kindred, shared a common history with the Amuligane and Grierson FGC4133 group in Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire. The history of this group is firmly attached to Nithsdale to a period pre-dating 1200. As already mentioned, there is an alternative explanation for the origins of the Acannan and Cannon in Galloway and this along with the McKinney, is discussed more fully next with references to their genealogical sources.  Surprisingly, apart from the obvious connection with the name Cannon, the Cannon (13-24-14) and Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14) do not appear to share a common ancestor within the last 700 years; estimations indicate a likely timeframe sometime between the years 900 and 1200. Since SNP A743 is not shared by the others, it seems very likely, Cannon (13-24-14) and Cannon-McKinney (13-25-14) shared a similar history and geographical context, and Galloway is the most likely source for their medieval origins in south-west Scotland.


Discoveries in Genetic Genealogy  2014 and 2015


In 1984, the late Daphne Brooke proposed a hypothesis that the personal names qualifying the element ‘Ern-‘ in the charter of 1408, Canny or Macanny, Macnelly, MacCathy and Macquilwhinny, and along with the name McClellan incorporated in the place-name of Balmaclellan, may be indicative of the arrival of a settlement of newcomers in the old parish of Trevercarcou, re-named Balmaclellan in Glenken. It assumes the McClellan lords in Galloway had been introduced to the old parish of Trevercarcou, on the basis that they are not actually documented there until 1466, when Vedast Grierson of Lagg sold the 12 merkland to John M’Lelane identified as the ‘son of Dungal Johnson’.  Importantly, Brooke identifies the name Canny with the name Cane, which appears in Cane McGillolane (later McClellan), already mentioned above, and suggests this personal name is associated with the Clan Connan. She goes one step further than others, and proposes this clan were brought into the district of Glenken in the fourteenth century, which seems to have included the Macelly, MacCathy and Macquilwhinny, and suggests they may have been settled to repair the depopulation resulting from war or the plague44. Her theory would beg the obvious questions, if the Clan Connan were brought into Glenken, where did they come from and who are they?

Daphne Brooke offered her own proposal and speculated they may have come from the north-east of Scotland and as supporting evidence, referenced George Black’s comments on the names Connon and Connan.  He identified the first form as an old surname associated with Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, and said there were families of this name in Glenbuchat near Kildrummy in Aberdeenshire, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries45.  She also thought the name MacGillolane, Gaelic Mac Gill Fáelán or Fáolán, meaning son of the servant of St. Fillan, may be indicative and associated with the same district, where the cult of St. Fillan was strong from an early date. This need not be the case since the name Fillan is particularised in St. Fillan’s cell or church commemorated in the lost place-name Kilfillan in the parish of Sorbie in Wigtownshire. It was still a place of habitation in Pont’s map (1597) spelt as Kilphillan46, and in Ainslie’s map (1782), spelt as Kilfillan. However, the cult of St. Fillan seems to have been centred at Kilfillan in Old Luce parish in Wigtownshire, where John MacQueen has suggested the Fáolán commemorated here is perhaps the patron of Kilfillan on Loch Earn in Perthshire, a saint who may be as early as the first half of the sixth century, but who equally may be later47. Significantly, the name Fáolán has been preserved in Ernfillan near Crossmichael in Kirkcudbrightshire, a parish that lies next to Parton, south of Balmaclellan.

The name Fáelán or Fáolán means ‘little wolf’, a name that is very close in meaning to Cano, meaning a ‘wolf-club’.  Is it possible, we are looking here at two names that essentially mean much the same, but have been confused? Both these names are associated with the Clan Connan and as observed, Connan is derived from Conán, a diminutive of Con, meaning little hound, an Old Irish name.  As an aside, interestingly, the name Conaing, also meaning ‘little hound’, varied to Conin or Cuning, appears in two very early references, preserved in the name of Patrick son of Coning or Conan, who in one Latin charter is called Patricio Machconin and in another Paderus mac Cuning. In the first, Patrick witnessed the charter of Edgar son of Dovenald, lord of Nithsdale, granting the church of Closeburn to Kelso Abbey c.1209-1211, and in the second, he witnessed Affrica daughter of Edgar’s gift of certain lands in the parish of Dunscore in Nithsdale to Melrose Abbey c.122848.

In the thirteenth century, the personal name Conaing appears elsewhere in Scotland and where it has survived, it appears with frequency in charters written in Latin. The Scottish clerics who compiled these charters used a variety of styles in an attempt to preserve the Gaelic name and significantly, they produced some interesting linguistic forms that reflect local dialectics. In the old Gaelic earldom of Atholl in Perthshire, the last native earl Henry son of Malcolm named his natural son Coning anglicised to Conan. In the first of three charters dated between 1235 and 1250, his name is written as Conan de Basco, meaning Conan of the Wood, and Conanus filius henrici, meaning Conan son of Henry49. The next charter has Cumingi filii Henrici, which means Coning son of Henry; a name echoed in another charter, Cumming filio Comitis, meaning Coning the Earl’s son50. In the earldom of Lennox, Fergus son of Conaing seems to have been a frequent witness to grants issued by Maldoven, third of Lennox in Dumbartonshire.  In those that have come down to us, his father’s name is spelt Cumyng (1224), Conig, Coning (c.1225), Cunig (c.1248), Cuning and Cuningham (1225-50)51.  In the following generation, we find Conan’s son Ewan called Eugenius filius Cuming filius Henrici (c.1263), Eugenius filius Connyg (c.1282) and Eugenii filii Coning (1284)52. Finally, one Malcolm mac Cunyg previously held the land of Coile Bhrochain granted by John de Strathbogie, earl of Atholl, to Sir John de Inchmartine, knight, sometime between 1270 and 130653.

The rich blend and variety of styles of naming illustrated here leaves plenty of scope for the names Conin or Cuning to have evolved into Conan and/or Connan. The presence of the name Patricio Machconin’ would also raise the question; could Patrick have been the lineal ancestor of Malcolm McKenyn or McKenne, depending on how these names were vocalised? It is known that Nithsdale west of the river Nith, was still considered to be part of Galloway in the thirteenth century, and in documents relating to Edgar son of Dovenald, he is styled Edgar of Galloway. In 1212, he along with his son Fergus de Glencairn, rendered homage to King John of England at Nottingham for their men, their lands, tenures and possessions, in return for his protection and royal service. It is also noted that King granted Edgar the gift made by Henry, the king’s father, of all the land which Ewan, Edgar’s brother held in Straddune of the king of Scotland54. These lands seem to have embraced the parishes of Morton, Dalgarnock and Closburn on the east side of the river Nith. Like, Alan, lord of Galloway, and his cousin, Duncan, earl of Carrick, the loyalties of these great barons, at different times, wavered between the kings of Scotland and England depending on their politic ambitions!   


 Created 17/4/15, updated 28/6/15 and 09/09/15



In medieval Scotland, the linguistic transition of Gaelic to Latin, Scots and English and the part translation and miscopying of Gaelic personal and family names, often left them shortened and in some cases barely recognisable.  It would seem though the names McKinney and Acannan have fared better and their part translation is probably as near as we are going to get to the original Gaelic name.  George F.  Black notes McKinney and McKenny are variants of the surname McKenna, derived from the Gaelic name MacCionaodha, son of Cinaodh or Cináed, an old personal name found both in Scotland and Ireland30.  In English, Cináed is usually part translated as Kenneth, Kenna and Kenny; the Gaelic consonant ‘c’ is pronounced as ‘k’ with the ending ‘dh’ or ‘d’ sounded as ‘th’, which is silent in Kenny. Several Scottish kings were named Cináed and included, Cináed mac Alpin, king of Pictland, who died in 858; Cináed mac Mael Coluim reigned from 971 until his death in 995: Cináed mac Dub, his cousin, was killed in 1005; he was succeeded by Mael Coluim mac Cináed mac Mael Coluim, who held the kingship until his death in 1034.  The same year the Annals of Ulster also record the obituary of Suibne son of Cinaed, king of the Gall Ghaidheil, the Gaelic name from which Galloway takes its name.

We capture our first glimpse of the name McKinney in two writs relating to Malcolm McKenney, a juror at the sheriff court of Dumfries. Respectively, in 1347 and 1367, Malcolm’s surname is spelt McKenne and McKenyn31. To be a juror, Malcolm must have held property that placed an obligation of feudal service and required him to attend the sheriff's court when necessary. These jurors would have been picked from a group of men who would have had some knowledge of the lands under question, establishing if the claimant had a right to inherit the lands in question. The record of the lands held by Malcolm himself in return for feudal service have now been lost and are only clue lies in fact, he owned jury service to the sheriff court of Dumfries, whose jurisdiction in 1347 and 1367 seems to have extended from the river Cree in Galloway to Annandale in the county of Dumfries. There is a suggestion, the spelling of McKenne and McKenyn found in Malcolm’s name and in others, such as John McKinnay, whose name is also spelt McKennane, chaplain and curate of Kirkblane murdered in the 1530s, represent a linguistic variation of Canne and Cannane32.  If the case, it would raise another question, could the old Acannan family of Killochy and Ellerbeg near Ironmacannie, have sprung from the same family group under a varied name?  They spelt their lineage name either with or without the prefix ‘A’ and variously as Achannane, Cannane and Cannon.

The Scottish database of all known people of Medieval Scotland between 1093 and 1314 mentioned in over 8600 contemporary documents, has references to men bearing the name Kenneth or Kenney, but none appear to relate or exist from the south-west of Scotland.  As far as I can trace, Malcolm is the earliest recorded McKinney in the south-west of Scotland and after him, we hear nothing more of this family or at least the surname for the next 120 years. They appear next in records relating to Wigtownshire, which were drawn up by public notaries from Wigtown (see Map 1), created a royal burgh in 1341. Two known names appear, John ‘Makkynnay’, who witnessed a land conveyance on 8 August 1488, and Andrew ‘McKynna’, witness to another one on 9 January, 149733.  In relation to John McKinney, he was one of six witnesses, which included William Muirhead, Alan and Gilbert ‘Makclellane’, and John ‘Makgilhauch’, notary public and probably related the McGilhauch family of Dumfries. It is also possible ‘Nevin McKenze’, who obtained a composition in 1473 for the deceased Thomas McDowall killed at Synons, might well be a McKenne from Wigtownshire34.

Of the name Acannan, Black was less certain but thought it was probably derived from the Irish Gaelic O’Canain, a descendant of Canan, and diminutive of Cano, meaning a wolf-club35. There is another alternative Gaelic name; it could be derived from Conán, a diminutive of Con, meaning little hound, and was the name of an important clan in Galloway, the Clan Connan. This clan appear in Galloway by the mid 1300s, and as already noted earlier its chiefs were the MacGilollane, otherwise, MacLellan.  As a name, Conán was already known in Galloway some 130 years earlier than the name Acannan.  It can be dated from 1477, when ‘Nevin Cannan’ and others were granted remission for the slaughter of Gilbert Rorison, possibly of the Rorison family of Bardennoch in Nithsdale36.  For the next 65 years, we lose sight of the Acannan family and when they re-appear, we find ‘Fergus Acannan’ witness to an Earlstoun charter of resignation on 7 August 1542.  As ‘Fergus Acannan’ in Allerbeg (Ellerbog), he received a crown grant of the lands of Killochy (See Map 2), half the lands of Knocklie and three quarters of the lands of Loganelewin extending to a 4 ½ merkland in the parish of Balmaclellan, resigned by John McKittrick in Killochy on 7 January, 155437. It is unclear if Fergus was a brother or kinsman Sir John Cannane, canon of Abbey of Tongland, who witnessed a charter of James McMoran of Ingliston in the parish of Gelston, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 17 February, 155138.  On his death in March 1555, Fergus was succeeded by his son and heir, Fergus Acannane, in all the lands of Killochy, pertaining to his father, the deceased Fergus Acannane in Ellerbog, which he lawfully possessed at the time of his death39.

Like the Acannan, the presence of the McKinney must be inferred before their first appearance in the district of Glenken, which is not until 1524, when Walter, abbot of Glenluce, brought a plea before the Lords of Council against James Gordon of Lochinvar, superior of the lands of barony of Balmaclellan. A number of witnesses were cited including Gilbert Mulykyn, Donald McKynnay and Hector McKynnay40. In 1542, William McGhie, lord of Balmaghie, granted to John “McKynny” in Glenshimmerock in the parish of Dalry, the 2 ½ merkland of old extent of Crae in the parish of Balmaghie41. The land of Glenshimmerock, a few miles north of Balmaclellan, was rented from John Gordon, lord of Lochinvar. John McKinney’s two sons, John and William, were by royal consent legitimised the following year, when he is called John Mckkynny in Glenshimmerock42. His son John McKynnay of Crae received a royal confirmation of his father’s lands of Crae in 154543.  This old family were tenants and fuers of both the Gordons of Lochinvar and the McGhies of Balmaghie.  Another branch of the McKinneys lived in the Dunscore area of Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire, where they appear to have been tenant farmers to the monks of Melrose Abbey and were neighbouring farmers with the Griersons and Amuliganes. The names of three McKinneys are recorded in 1565; John, Edward and Gilbert Makkynnay and the earliest records indicate they and their families lived at Nether Breidwell, Edgarton and later at Dempsterton.

Of the two surnames, McKinney appears to have been fixed before Acannan, which was probably a latter creation with “A” added to indicate the family of Acannan were either the grandsons or descendants of Cannan.  In the 1400s, the use of the prefix “A” would still have been apparent to bilingual speaking Gaelic Gallovidians, and they may well have adopted this style to express their own traditional background and perhaps to distinguish them from the McKinney family, whose name seems to have been remembered in Ironmacannie near Killochy. If McCannie is the same as McKinney, this would by progression imply its source is the Gaelic name MacCionaodha, son of Cináed.  However, as already noted, there is some evidence to imply Kennane and Cannane were interchangeable, and since these two names are so close, it is possible Cannie and Cannan may simply be diminutives of the same name or two different names that merged with each other in Ironmacannie. There is some evidence to indicate, this theory finds support in genetic research in America, where there are families bearing the surname McKinney and Cannon, who share the same SNP at A822/3 with the Amuliganes in Nithsdale and Glenken.