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Middle names in English-speaking places appeared very gradually. They were virtually unheard of before 1700, and the earliest example of a documented middle name was about 1646. Middle names continued to be quite rare until the 1800's. After about 1850, they came to be customary in most places.

With a custom that was becoming ever more popular, it is difficult to tell whether someone who used a middle name as an adult actually started out with it, especially if there is a birth record that leaves it out. Of course, there could be reasons why a middle name bestowed upon a child might be omitted from official records, such as a clerk who felt these "new-fangled" middle names were a silly affectation and simply refused to write them down.

Mathesonís Special Report on Surnames of Ireland shows surnames with five or more entries in the birth indexes of 1890, and the main counties in which they were found. The birth rate was 1:44 at that time so you can estimate the number of people of the name at that time. On microfiches, available from A. J. Morris for a very reasonable sum.
Genealogical Publishing has it in book form.
Irish Genealogy, a record finder, ed by Donal Begley, Heraldic Arts, Nassau St., Dublin 2, includes Matheson's Special Report.

Useful Books about Irish and "Scots-Irish" Surnames

An excellent resource for anyone interested in the origin of their Irish, Scotch-Irish, English-Irish ect. surnames is Dr. Edward MacLysaght The Surnames of Ireland. Published by Irish Academic Press, 6th Ed. is ISB 0-7165-2367, 1985.

Irish Pedigrees, 2 vol
O'Hart. Lists many Irish families "back to Adam and Eve!
Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Dublin 1892,
ISBN 0-8063-0737/4 Set Number, ISBN 0-8063-1259-9

Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia,
Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta Co., 1745-1800.
By Lyman Chalkley. 3 vols., 623+652+712p. (1912) 1993.
An invaluable source for Scotch-Irish research, this set contains
marriages, wills, deeds, fee books, delinquents & more. Indexed.
Reprints available
Higginson books.

Books about Celtic Names:

O'Corrain, Donnachadh. Irish Names. 2nd ed. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1992

Rosenkrantz & Satran. Beyond Sean and Shannon. (This one is from memory-- it may be *Beyond Shannon and Sean.*)

Sierra, Judy. Celtic baby Names:Traditional names from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man. Eugene, OR: Folkprint, 1997.

Names in general:

Ingraham, Holly. People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference Guide to The Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names and Cultures.
Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland & Co, 1997.
Note: This is an excellent and fascinating book. Aimed at writers who need authentic names for their novels, it has lists of names and commentary on naming patterns from many times & places.