The Dukes List
In 1779, the Duke of Argyll arranged for a census to be taken of all those living on his lands in Argyll. The result, known as “The Duke’s List” is an important historical source. The population of Auchindrain was 38, 28 of whom had the surname Munro, of whom four were called Duncan and three Archibald. Several other first names were repeated multiple times. This situation was, and remains, not unusual in Gaelic-speaking areas. The solution was, and is, to use nicknames or family-origin names. Nicknames note a physical characteristic, an occupation, a location or an incident the person associated with. Two we know from Auchindrain are Bell
Two we know from Auchindrain are Bell a’Phuill, ‘Isabella who lives by the muddy place’, and Donchadh Clachair, ‘Duncan the stonemason’, although here the Gaelic is always translated into English literally, as “Duncan Stoner”. Family-origin names used a person’s first name followed by that of their father and sometimes grandfather if necessary to differentiate between two people with the same first name and whose fathers also had the same first name: thus John whose father was James and whose grandfather was Neil would be Iain Sheumais Nèill, Neil’s James’ John. Married women were known by their husband’s name: thus John’s wife would be Bean Iain Sheumais Nèill, the wife of Neil’s James’ John.