The Commonest of the Maol

GAELIC SOCIETY OF INVERNESS. Inverness, January, (1901). The commonest of the maol names in olden time were Maol-moire and Maol domhnaich, or "Lord's Devotee" these have survived till the present day, in the Isles especially. They are Englished respectively by Miles and Ludovick. The former has some resemblance to Maolmoire — the Irish translate their Maol mordha, mighty lord," also by Miles — but Ludovick and Maol domhnaich have nothing in common in form or meaning. The name was common in Glen-Urquhart — Muldonich often in the 1545 tenants' list — and the name Ludovick or Lewis, ''Famed warrior," was a favourite Grant name. This may account for the interchange. Maoliosa, "Christ's Devotee," was a favourite all along — known to Scotch history as Malise and to modern surnames as Mellis — until the greater favourite Gilliosa or Gillies ousted it two centuries ago. Gillies itself is now dead as a Christian name. After mac in surnames and patronymics, it is difficult in this name and in many others to decide whether we have maol or gille to deal with: both aspirate the first letter, which practically disappears, and all there is to guide us is the timbre of the vowel before I.

We know that M'Aldonich (1723, a sept of the Buchanans) is for M’Mhaol-domhnaich; the name Gille-domhnaich is very rare) (yet Andrea M'Gilledonich and M’Yldonich, 1504, in Easter Ross). Maoldomhnaich was a favourite name among the early Earls of Lennox — Maldounech (1225) and Maldovenus (1235), comes of Levenach. We have also Maldofeni M’Gillemychelmor in Luss in 1300. The form is also Maldouiny. (Reference)

From the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness VOLUME XX. (1894-96). The adjective mael or maol, bald, was used as a noun to denote "bald one, slave," the Latin of which was calvus. So Mael-Patraic is in Lat. Calvus Patricii.  The Black Book of Taymouth, for the 16th century, writes generally M'Olchallum, M'Oldonuich, and M'Oulroy, forms which in the case of M'Oldonuich stand for M'Mhaoil-domhnaich, from Maol-domhnach, "Slave of the Lord or Church" = Calvus Dominicus. (Reference)

Senior Sergeant Damian Downie

Example of Mac Gille Domhnaich/M’Gildonich

In 1661 the surname Mac Gille Domhnaich is seen in Perth:  [1661/1/429]*[print] [email] [cite] [preceding] [following] Procedure: commission to bring cases to trial  Commission to [James Murray], earl of Tullibardine Donald Stewart, Iain mac Dhomhnaill Duibh mhic GilleMhìcheil, Domhnall mac Eoghann mhic Iain mhic Mhàrtainn and Iain mac Gille Domhnaich were incarcerated in the said tollbooth for alleged breaking of his majesty's peace, as a supplication given in by the magistrates of the said burgh of Perth. (Reference)  Elizabeth, relict of Donald M'Gildonich, in Dalguss T. 9 Jan. 1701 (Reference)

Reminiscences of Ruaraidh Rob Mackinnon, 2 Garyvard, who was born in Caversta in 1909. Translated by Elizabeth MacGowan from the articles in Tional in 1992/93 refers to Domhnull Mhaoil Domhnaich came to work in Crobeg. At that time, Caversta, Torostay, and Orinsay belonged to Crobeg. (Reference)


Example of Mac Gille Donich


On 17th September 1742 in witness whereof the granter's seal was appended, the witnesses being Sir Alexander of Mernys, Sir Donald Cambell, James Stewart, brother of Sir Walter Steward of Scotland, John son of Gilbert, then Bailie of Both, Allan of Grimeslaw, clerk, etc." [circa 1325]. On which the said Cristin asked instruments. Done at Arde Lavmonde, after noon of the day aforesaid, before witnesses, John Donaldson M'Pherson, John M'Gilledonich, John M'Gillaspic, Duncan Donaldson Ewenson, Gillanes M'Gillelan, John M'Cauer, Duncan M 'Vicar, and Neil M'Artour M.Cavis, etc. The notary is Donald M'Gilleroi, presbyter of the diocese of Argyll. (Reference)

From Hector McKecnie's (1938) "The Lamont Clan 1235 - 1935" in which there are three mentions of leases/rental agreements in 1653 associated with Auchinshelloch (Stillaig) and Loch Striven in the name of Downie.  These are described as Deeds (Downie), 28th and 29th June 1653, vol. 584.  McKecnie describes these Deeds as Recorded Writs, Reg. Ho..  I am currently seeking out to identify if it is the Downie surname or some other variant mentioned on these Deeds, i.e. Mcgilledonich, Mcgildonie, Mcildonie, Mcildownie or Donie.

Macildownie to Downie


2445. M'Ildownie and spouse. 23 August, 1582, 9 a.m.

2540. M'Ildowny. Eoclem die et hwa. September, 1583

John M'lldownie (1) cooper, in consideration of the sum of £30 paid to him in his urgent necessity, sold to Andrew Downie,' cooper, his brother, an annual rent of £8, payable furth of a fore tenement, lying t.c, on the north side of the Bridgegait, between the lands of Eduard Pollok on the west, the lands of James Mayne on the east, and the lands of John Lufe on the north. Sasine given by William Coninghame, bailie. Witnesses: Umphrid Coninghame, son of the bailie, Eduard Pollok, skinner, Patrick Briscat, tailor, citizens, Richard Tod and Andrew Andirsoun, Serjeants. Annual rent to be redeemable for £80.  The reference contains an interesting footnote:  In other parts of the protocol John is called "Downie," and Andrew, "M'lldownie" these names being apparently used promiscuously. Andrew Downie is later referred to as: M'lldownie, Andrew, cooper, and Downy (Downie), Andrew, cooper, 2539-40. (Reference)


Gilmore, son of Muldonich, of the lands of Luss

Full text of "Miscellanea Scotica: A collection of tracts relating to the history, antiquities, topography, and literature of Scotland (1820)" describes how he married his own cousin, Matilda, daughter to the earl of Lennox, by whom he had Maldonich, or Malduin, his successor, concerning whom there is little upon record.

Malduins son and successor was Partholan, or Parian, from whose proper name the family obtiuned the patronimical surname of MacPbarlane, or Parlansons, being, as is asserted, for three descents before the assumption of this, surnamed MacGilchrists, from Gilchrist already mentioned. Some of these last have retained that surname as yet, who nevertheless own themselves to be cadets of the family of MacFarlane.

The most ancient charter now extant of the lands of Luss, is a charter by Malduin, earl of Lennox, to Gilmore, son of Muldonich, of the lands of Luss. This Muldonich, or another of Gilmore’s ancestors, is upon very good grounds asserted to be a son of the earl of Lennox, and to have retained the surname of Lennox, or, as others, assumed that of Luss, and retained the same till the marriage of the heiress with Colquhoun. The above charter was in the reign of king Alexander II, but it is thought the estate was given off to one of the ancestors of that family before that charter, though the same be the oldest now extant in their hands. To Gilmore succeeded Maurice, being only mentioned witness, by designation of Luss, in a charter by the earl, to Maurice Galbraith, of the lands of Auchindoich.

The following is a direct cut and paste, so apologies for typographical errors: Madeath laird of Buchanans age is evidenoedj by the record after-specified, in favours of his son and successor Anbelak, the third (that oamct and sevmth laird of Buchanan; who is ordinarily termed, in any record in which he is mentioned Anselani son of Macbeath, and sennescallus, or chamberlain, to the earl of Lennox, in written mortifications in die cbartulary of the abbacy of Fasly. This Aselan the third, with Gilbert and Methlen his two sons, are inserted witnesses in a charter, granted by Malduin, earl of Lennox, to Gilmore, son of Maoldonich, of the lands of Luss, in the beginning of the reign of king Alexander II and they are besigned in that charter the earl's clients, or vassals. This Anselan the third, besides Gilbert his oldest son and successor, who first assumed the surname of Buchanan, and Methlen his second son, ancestor of the McMillans, had a third son catted Colman, ancestor of the MacColmans, as shall be elsewhere more fully illustrated.

The second cadet of this last sort descended of the family of Lenny are the MacAldonich deriving that surname from a certain person of Lennys family named Muldonich being an ancient Scottish Christian, name, and in some parts of the Highlands in use yet, from whose name his progeny obtained the surname of Macmaldonichs or contracted as above, and most ordinarily expressed. At what time the ancestor of these came off the family of Lenny, cannot be well determined; however, they always own themselves to be of the said family, and the more to remove any scruple there anent, have mostly now, as did some of their friends the Macwatties, as already observed, assumed the surname of Buchanan. So that the old surname of Macaldonich will in a short time, turn into desuetude.  (Please read in conjunction with the findings of Buchannan sept napping)

The last cadet of those of other denominations descended off the family of Lenny, was the ancestor of those termed Macrobs, denominated, from one of that family called Robert, by contraction Rob, whence his progeny obtained this surname. The number and character of these are very inconsiderable, they residing mostly in the parishes of Calender and Kilmadock, (insert: the main town in Kilmadock is Dounie) as do the Macaldonichs mostly in the lower parts of Straithern and Straithallap, and some other places of Perthshire. And these are all the cadets of other denominations I could discover to be descended off the family of Lenny. (Reference)

The American Historical Magazine (1923) states that MacAldonich, from the Gaelic MaciIhuldonich, from Muldonich, a man of the Lennie branch. (Reference)


Donich and Domhnaich Place Names

 From the official Clan Cameron site, DONIE, DAWNIE, DORNIE, DOMHANAIDH, DOMHANAIDH NAN CAT, a “Hollow Place.”  A settlement formerly located in Gleann Domhanaidh, south of the River Lundy and just east of the present-day Nevis Range facility.  Possibly known in the past as Domhanaidh nan Cat – Donie of the Cats and also Dawnie (a corrupted version of Donie). (Reference)  In Scottish Gaelic the gh = like ch, (before/after e, i) [is a] y, occasionally silent (Reference).

·         Ben Donich or Beinn Domhnaich is a mountain located in the Arrochar Alps, near Loch Goil in Argyll and Bute. It is a Corbett and part of the Ardgoil range with its sister The Brack. Ben Donich's nearest town is Lochgoilhead.

·    Muldoanich or Maol Domhnaich, a small uninhabited island located towards the southern end of the chain of islands comprising the Outer Hebrides, Muldoanich (Gael: Maol Domhnaich or 'Sunday Isle'). (Reference)

In Irish Place Names (1913) described the following:

·    Artidowney, near Belturbet in Cavan ; Ard-tighe-Domhnaigh [-Downey], the height of Downey's house.

·    Crossdoney in Cavan; Cros- Domhnaigh [-downey], Sunday cross: i.e. resorted to on Sundays.

·    Dromdowney in Cork; Druim-Domhnaigh, of Sunday. A place for Sunday meetings.

·    Drumadoney in Donegal and Down; Druim-a'-Domhnaigh [-Downey], ridge of the church, or of Sunday: for Domhnach might mean either.

·    Drummackilowney in Fermanagh ; Mackilowney's or Mackledowney's ridge. (Reference)

·    Ráth Domhnaigh, see Rathdowney (Reference)




CS IX 303




Cen. 535




Gill LG





Co. Map 1808 


Ráth Domhnaigh 'Downy's rath or fort or Sunday Rath'