Recorded as O 'Cridigan, O 'Crigan, O 'Crigane, O 'Criane, Creeghan, Crehan, Crean, Creane, Chree, Cree, and others, this is an Irish-Scottish surname, of three quite separate and confused origins. If Irish, and those spellings commencing with the O' prefix, although now quite rare, are definately from Ireland, it is a developed form of the ancient Gaelic O' Croidheagain meaning "Little heart." This was used as a term of endearment for the first chief of the clan, probably in the Medieval period around the 12th century. Most Scottish and Irish clan surnames originate from a nickname for first chief, and this is a good example of the genre. Secondly the origin where there is no surname prefix can be Irish or Scottish, and a shortening of the popular surname Macrae or Macree, found in both countries, and meaning the son of the favoured one. Thirdly it can be locational from a place called Cree in Ayrshire. If the origination is from Macrae the first recording as shown below is 13th century. Early recordings of the surname in surviving church registers include Mabe Cree, who married Robert Merryt on March 1603, at St. Katherine by the Tower (of London), whilst Issobell Cree was christened on April 12th 1618, in Edinburgh, Scotland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probaly that of Patrick M' Rey who rendered homage to the Interregnum Goverment of Scotland in 1296. 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.