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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish McNiven family come from? What is the Scottish McNiven family crest and coat of arms? When did the McNiven family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McNiven family history?

In ancient Scotland, McNiven was a Strathclyde-Briton name for someone who lived in Ayrshire. The surname McNiven was also regarded as derived from the Gaelic patronymic Mac Naoimhin, which is derived from the word naomh, meaning saint.

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Prior to the first dictionaries, scribes spelled words according to sound. This, and the fact that Scottish names were repeatedly translated from Gaelic to English and back, contributed to the enormous number of spelling variations in Scottish names. McNiven has been spelled Niven, Nevin, Nevins, Nivens, Navin, Newin, Nevane, Niffen, Nifen, Niving, Neving, Newing, Neiven, Nivine, Nevison, Niveson and many more.

First found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, long before the Norman Conquest in 1066.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McNiven research. Another 503 words(36 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1230, 1400, 1296, 1386, 1538, 1590, 1635, 1715, 1700, 1639, 1684 and 1650 are included under the topic Early McNiven History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 157 words(11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McNiven Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McNiven family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 133 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In such difficult times, the difficulties of raising the money to cross the Atlantic to North America did not seem so large compared to the problems of keeping a family together in Scotland. It was a journey well worth the cost, since it was rewarded with land and freedom the Scots could not find at home. The American War of Independence solidified that freedom, and many of those settlers went on to play important parts in the forging of a great nation. Among them:

McNiven Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Catherine McNiven, who landed in New York in 1738
  • John McNiven, who arrived in New York, NY in 1738
  • Merran McNiven, who landed in New York in 1738
  • Rachel McNiven, who arrived in New York, NY in 1738

McNiven Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • William McNiven, who landed in New York in 1848
  • Jno. McNiven, aged 27, who landed in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1893

McNiven Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Eliza McNiven, aged 40, who emigrated to the United States from Glasgow, in 1906
  • Hodge Wm. McNiven, aged 26, who settled in America from Montrose, Scotland, in 1909
  • Annie S. McNiven, aged 30, who landed in America from Longforgan, Scotland, in 1910
  • David McNiven, aged 12, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1910
  • Maxwell McNiven, aged 7, who emigrated to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1910


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  • Julie McNiven (b. 1980), American actress
  • David Scott McNiven (b. 1955), Scottish retired footballer
  • David Jonathan McNiven (b. 1978), English-born, Scottish footballer
  • Scott Andrew McNiven (b. 1978), English-born, Scottish footballer
  • Steven "Steve" McNiven (b. 1967), Canadian comic book artist
  • Donald Alexander McNiven (1887-1961), Canadian politician
  • John Graham "Jock" McNiven (1900-1969), Canadian mine engineer, mine operator and politician from the Northwest Territories


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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vivis sperandum
Motto Translation: Where there is life there is hope

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  1. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  4. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The McNiven Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McNiven Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 16 October 2013 at 09:52.

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