Earliest Maharg

Maharg is a surname. For example, a John Archibald Maharg (1872-1944) was a Saskatchewan politician. But it also is a backwards spelling of Graham. Apparently someone named Graham (which is the name of a Scottish clan) reversed their name for some reason. Any idea who did it and how long ago it was?

Are you sure it wasn’t just a contraction of a MacXYZ to MaXYZ? The guy was born in Ontario and likely would be of Scottish decent.

Yeah, the reversed spelling might just be a coincidence.

I’m afraid I have nothing to add except this thread title made me laugh for some reason.

Apparently “MacHarg” is an ancient Scottish surname with its origins going back to the 10th century:

Not saying that there can’t also be Mahargs descended from some eccentric Graham who decided to reverse his spelling, but that is definitely not the sole or primary origin of the surname Maharg.

But Graham is Scottish also, as I pointed out in the OP. And note that I didn’t think that guy was the one who reversed his last name.

Well, OK, maybe. It kind of strains belief that two 6-letter surnames of the same nationality are exact reverse spellings of each other. (Not counting palindromes, in which case it’s not two names anyway.)

I think there’s something fishy about these here Mahargs… do they come from Dnaltocs on Htrae or something?

Maybe your belief just needs a little more exercise. For example, “Rennit” and “Tinner” are another pair of actual surnames, as are “Rennet” and “Tenner”, “Lasser” and “Ressal”, and “Nellie” and “Eillen”. There are many others.

General rule of thumb: never be surprised by the spelling or pronunciation of a Scottish name

For example, I have distant cousins named “Colquhoun”

Pronounced the same as other Scots named “Calhoun”.

And the same as other Scots named “Cahoon”. Or “Cohoun”.

And let’s not start talking about Menzies (pronounced “Mingus”) and Strachan (pronounced “Strawn”).
And, getting back to the OP’s example, there are those who say that “Graham” is a mis-spelling, and the proper spelling is “Graeme”.

(Amongst others, that’s the spelling Scott used in “Lochinvar”.)

And all those have a central double letter. Find some that don’t. Also, Eillen and Nellie are first names, as far as I can tell.

ETA: Billy Maharg was born later than my example in the OP, so definitely not the original Maharg

In the Starcraft games, there’s a character named “Artanis”. Nobody’s sure whether the name originates from “Sinatra” spelled backwards, or from a Tolkien character who bears the same name. Or, possibly, neither.

Coincidences happen, and it’d be a really weird world if they didn’t.

:rolleyes: Would you mind telling me why you’ve suddenly decided that having a central double letter disqualifies a pair of ananymic surnames from being a valid example?

While I’m watching those goalposts dance around the field, here are some other ananymic surname pairs that conform to your after-the-fact qualification about lacking a central double letter:

Remert and Tremer
Nialor and Rolain
Treden and Nedert
Lagnam and Mangal

Are you perhaps mistaking “Eillen” for “Ellen” or “Eileen”? In any case, many given names are also surnames, but if this flexibility is really bothering you, Eillan and Nallie are also an ananymic surname pair.

I don’t get why you seem to be so resistant to what I would have thought was the pretty unremarkable fact that surnames are spelled lots of different ways, so it’s not really that unusual for one attested name to be the reverse of another attested name.

After all, given how easy it is to find ananymic surnames that are shorter—Man and Nam, Flet and Telf, etc.—it should be pretty apparent that statistically speaking, there are bound to be some ananymic surname pairs as long as six letters.

A central double letter increases the chance of finding a reversal. It’s more like having a 5.5-letter name rather than 6-letter.

Perhaps you should note the other qualification I put in there, about having the two names be from the same ethnic/linguistic group (I said nationality, but that’s what I really meant). I have no idea what the origins of the above names are, but expect most, if not all, of them are not the same as their reversal.

Nah, I just googled Eillen and didn’t find anyone with that as a last name in the first 4 pages of results. There were a bunch with it as a first name though. I’m not sure what language Eillen would be; if I had to guess, I’d say Irish. Almost certainly not English like Nellie is.

The U.S. Census Bureau provides a list of surnames that occurred 100 or more times in a recent census. Just for fun, I looked for anagrammable surnames in that list. The total number of such surnames was HUGE.

There were several instances of 16- or 15-sized groups, for examples
Marine Reiman Rieman Minear Manier Marien Amrine Mainer Amrein Maneri Manire Merian Armeni Minera Amerin Emrani
Randle Ladner Lander Lenard Nadler Randel Larned Andler Nalder Erland Landre Andrle Anderl Danler Darnel
Lakes Leaks Leask Salek Kasel Laske Lekas Lasek Lesak Klase Klaes Leska Kales Selak Akles Kasle
Rogan Organ Garon Ragon Agron Garno Agnor Grano Ragno Goran Grona Ronga Rango Narog Agron Nogar
Most anagramable among 8-letter surnames was
Tischler Christel Litscher Stichler Christle Slichter Ritschel Schilter
For 9 letters
Rosendahl Haroldsen Halderson Sholander Handloser
For 11 letters
Picklesimer Pickelsimer Spickelmier
There were 16 pairs of 14-letter anagramable surnames, but all of these were of the following form:
Lopez-Rodriguez Rodriguez-Lopez

**Origins of the name “Maharg” **

116 Americans had the surname Treffert, the longest palindromic surname.
Palindromic surnames of 7 letters are
Diuguid Kascsak Reinier Rentner Surerus
There were many surnames whose reversal is also a surname. Among those pairs with surnames of 7 letters or more OP’s example
had the most common surname (Graham). However there are many pairs with both elements more common than Maharg, for example:
Kinzer-Reznik Rengel-Legner Renier-Reiner Strebe-Eberts Wollam-Mallow

Good point.

Tremer and Remert are both Germanic, for example (as are Strebe and Eberts from septimus’s examples), and Eillan and Nallie are both Celtic-Gaelic while septimus’s Wollam and Mallow are both English.

:rolleyes: Did you try googling “Eillen surname”, for instance? Perhaps with “-Eileen” thrown in if you want to get really sophisticated with the search features?

Honestly, dtilque, I don’t understand why you’re (uncharacteristically, AFAICT) fighting so strongly in the cause of ignorance on this issue. Are you really so attached to the folk-etymology explanation of “Maharg” that you insist on trying to make the existence of naturally ananymic surnames seem less probable than it is? It’s not all that common, natch, but it’s not impossibly rare either.

Especially since there is a very plausible alternative explanation of “Maharg”, based on the well-attested surname “MacHarg” and the equally well-attested phenomenon of Gaelic “Mac” names losing their “c” in alternate spellings, I think you’re fighting a losing battle here.

:confused: Do you mean “7 letters or fewer”? Graham and Maharg both have 6 letters, not 7.

Hey, I was mostly joking in post #6. I’m not really fighting the point. I guess the humor didn’t come through.

But, there used to be a Maharg in SC that was an intentional reversal (it’s been renamed Foss.) So finding people with that name pinged my suspicion meter.

Ok, sorry to snap at you :slight_smile:

:confused: Are you maybe thinking of Foss, Oklahoma?

I can’t find any reference to any town named “Foss” in South Carolina. Anyway, the ananymic Maharg placename in Oklahoma is from the very end of the 19th century, and there are instances of Maharg as a surname attested long before that. But perhaps the deliberate choice of the ananymic spelling for the town helped foster the folk etymology of the surname.