Although accepted as Scottish-Gaelic, the true origin of this surname is in fact Norse-Viking! It derives from the pre 6th Century personal compound “Rognvaldr”, which translates as “counsel-rule”, but probably meant “wise-counsel”, or similar. Norse and Saxon names were usually “created” from warlike terms or reference to the gods, “Rognvaldr” is one of the more peaceful forms. Whilst the first introduction into the Isles of Britain was through the Viking conquest of the Isle of Man in the 8th Century A.D., the name was also brought in by both the Anglo-Saxons (8th Century) and the Normans after 1066, although in the latter cases the usual form was “Reynold”. Recordings of the name include, John Makrynnild, of Eddirallekach, in 1483. Allan McRynild, of Gawrie, in 1569, seemingly the patronymic “Mac” for “son of” was a later application to the original Ronald, Ranald or Reynold, as was “son”, Doul Ranaldsone being recorded in Glasgow in 1511.
The Clan Ranald, the Chiefs of Keppoch, derive from MacMhic Raghnaill, beheaded at Elgin in 1547. Amongst the early American settlers was William Ronald, believed to be from Kintyre, recorded in New Jersey, New England, in 1684. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Rannald, which was dated 1463, Burgess of Glasgow, during the reign of King James 111 of Scotland, 1460 – 1488. 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.