A Look at the Mc(ac)A/I/Ninch(sh) Surname(s), and Where They Might be from in Ireland


[This article is based on “A Look at the McAninch Surname, and Where It Might be from in Ireland”,

McAninch Family History NL, Vol. I, No. 2, June 1993, pg. 2, and “McAninch in 1800’s Ulster, Tithe

Applotment and Griffiths Valuation”, McAninch Family History NL, Vol. III, No. 2, May, 1995, pg. 4]


"McAninch" is an unusual surname, and sometimes difficult to live with. This monograph is a

snapshot of previous and current work-in-progress, and is presented below in four sections:

  I.   In the United States, Consistent Spelling(s) since 1770's

 II.  The Ireland Connection, Clues to County Antrim, Ulster Province, (Northern) Ireland

III.  The Surname MacInnes, Ancestor of our Mc(ac)A/I/Ninch(sh,tch) Surnames

IV.   Sources and References (and some books we're not in)


I. In the United States, Consistent Spelling(s) since 1770's


The paragraph heading says it all here. In 1790, in the first census of the United States, there are two

McAninch's, both in south-western Pennsylvania, and both entries spelled exactly the same way we

spell it today. Earlier records in Pennsylvania, “McAninch” and “McAninck”, corroborate this [1].


When coupled with the Irish sources, discussed below, it is my belief that our ancestors were

consistent in the pronunciation of our name, and thus, that our current spelling is not accidental.

Specifically, our current spelling is consistent with the Gaelic pronunciation, and appears to have

been rendered fairly from the spoken Gaelic into the King’s English, by the Crown’s tax collectors

and Colonial port agents.


II. The Ireland Connection, Clues to County Antrim, Ulster Province, (Northern) Ireland


Many clues point first to Ulster Province, Northern Ireland, and then specifically to County Antrim.


The first clue found was in MacLysaght, The Surnames of Ireland [2]:

“Mac Aninch, -Inch, -Ninch Ulster variants of the Scottish MacInnes”

also “Mac Inch see Mac Aninch”, and “Mac Ninch see Mac Aninch”

[but note: “Mac Neish, -Nish A sept of the Scottish clan MacGregor”, pg. 235]


In the introduction, MacLysaght also says:

“The practice of differentiating between Mac and Mc (not to mention the now almost

obsolete M’) is fortunately dying out. There is no difference: Mc is simply an abbreviation of Mac.”


We should also note that the channel separating Ulster, (Northern) Ireland from Scotland is as

narrow as 20 miles across in some places, and that there has been a lot of channel-crossing down

through the centuries, in both directions. Some historians believe that all Scottish Highlanders

descend from Celtic tribes which crossed from the island of Ireland to the islands and highlands

of Scotland, circa 500 AD.


For a variety of reasons, there are very few early-Irish records with genealogical information

available. Those that survive were created by the English, when Ireland was still a colony of the

British Empire.



McAninch Family History NL, V-2  May, 1997  Copyright Frank McAninch   page 1997-11


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