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There are two theories as to the origins of the name Agnew. The most widely accepted is that the name is French and derives from the Barony d'Agneaux in Normandy. Emigrants from the region first settled in England before moving north in the 12th century to Liddlesdale, Scotland. The other theory is that the Clan Agnew was connected to one of the tribes in Ulster, Ireland, perhaps a sept of O'Gnive — pronounced O'New. Other versions of the name include O'Gnive, O'Gnyw, and MacGnive. The Agnews may be related to King Somerled from whom the Clan MacDonald descends.