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When your Surname is McDade

History of the Name

This interesting name is of medieval Irish origin and is the Anglicization of the Gaelic 'MacDaibheid', mac denoting 'son of' David, and is also found as MacDevitt, MacDavitt and Davison, but in its homeland, Donegal and Derry, it is generally in the form of MacDaid or MadDade.

The family of MacDevitt or MacDade are said to have descended from David O'Doherty, a chief of Cinel Conaill, who was killed in 1208, and grew to be numerous in Inishowen. David is a Hebrew male given name meaning 'beloved'. McDade is also a fairly common name in Glasgow, Scotland. Amongst the sample recordings in Ireland are the following christenings, William John McDade on July 24th 1833 at Dromore, County Down, and Mary Ann McDade on September 13th 1840 at Ballymoney, Antrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth McDeid, marriage to Barnaby Hargan, which was dated November 12th 1750, Drumachose, Londonderry, during the reign of King George 11, 'The Last Warrior King', 1727-1760.

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

U.S. Blacks Aquiring the Name 

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African. The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves. This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry. In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

 The Truth is not Clear 

 While the previous text did bring to light many of the curiousities of my heritage it is mostly a fabrication built on history to incite emotions.   A later debunking of the source is here.


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