While reviewing DNA records maintained by Dean McGee, administrator of the McGee DNA project, it is hard to escape the conclusion that at some time in the 18th century these names were used interchangeably. Dean's website is mymcgee.com. On Dean's site you will find Thomas McKee, who was born in Saintfield, County Down and who was the husband of a woman named Hogg, in the same group of related men as numbers of my McGee ancestors.
It is striking that the names used by McKee and McGee families are so similar. James, John, Robert, William are common in every family. David is uncommon in McGees, but common among McKees, and that is about the only naming difference I can detect. I am not as familiar with names used by other surnames, but among the McKees/McGees the similarities are striking.
It is also true that when coming to America the spellings of many surnames changed, either by the bearers who may have been illiterate or by those responsible for recording them, many of whom would not have been familiar with the Scots-Irish spellings.
I know we will probably never identify the time when the spelling of the name MacAodha began to separate into several anglicized spellings, but it is certainly important to keep your eyes open to every possible spelling when looking for Scots-Irish ancestors. Certainly for those who participate in a DNA project it will be important to be signed up for as many projects as possible with names anything like one's own.
Maybe we all have a vote to decide a common name. Maybe we could agree upon something neutral, with the same meaning, like Fitzhugh!
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