Beith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

A family in the Pictish tribe of ancient Scotland was the first to use the name Beith. They lived in the lands of Beath in Fife. The name is a topographic or local surname, which was given to a family who held a barony or lands, had houses, manors or estates in that area. The name could have also been derived from the Gaelic beith which means birch tree.

Early Origins of the Beith family

The surname Beith was first found in Fife, at the Hill of Beath, a hill and a village in Fife, Scotland just outside Dunfermline and joined to Cowdenbeath. The village is best known as the location of the meeting of the Covenanters at which John Blackadder was one of the preachers in the summer of 1670. As of 1896, it had a population of about 1,300 people.

Early History of the Beith family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Beith research. Another 113 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1231, 1696, 1480 and 1498 are included under the topic Early Beith History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Beith Spelling Variations

In medieval Scotland, names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules. An enormous number of spelling variations were the result. Over the years, the name Beith has been spelled Beath, Beeth, Beith, Bait, Baith and others.

Early Notables of the Beith family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was William Beith or Beeth, a Dominican writer, according to Anthony à  Wood, spent his early years at Oxford, and was, towards the middle of his life, made provincial of his order for England. "The apparent...
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Beith Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Beith migration to the United States +

In such difficult times, Ireland, Australia, and North America looked like better homes for many Scots. The trips were expensive and grueling, but also rewarding, as the colonies were havens for those unwelcome in the old country. That legacy did not die easily, though, and many were forced to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. The Scottish legacy has resurface in more recent times, though, through Clan societies, highland games, and other organizations. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the old Scottish name of Beith:

Beith Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Beith, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [1]
  • Robert H Beith, who arrived in Arkansas in 1874 [1]

New Zealand Beith migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Beith Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Dykes Beith, aged 31, a blacksmith, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864 [2]
  • Margaret Beith, aged 30, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864 [2]
  • William Beith, aged 10, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864 [2]
  • Thomas Beith, aged 8, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864 [2]
  • Mary Ann Beith, aged 2, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Beith (post 1700) +

  • Gilbert Beith (1827-1904), Scottish merchant and Liberal politician, Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central (1885-1886) and for Inverness Burghs (1892-1895)
  • Alexander Beith (1799-1891), Scottish divine and author from Campbeltown, Argyleshire
  • Mr. William Beith, Welsh mechanical engineer working in Tynewydd coal mine in Wales on 11th April 1877, he was awarded the Albert Medal for lifesaving
  • Robert Beith (1843-1922), Canadian farmer and politician, Member of the Canadian Parliament for Durham West (1891-1900)
  • Major General John Hay Beith CBE (1876-1952), British schoolmaster, soldier and novelist, playwright, essayist and historian who wrote under the pen name Ian Hay
  • Sir John Beith KCMG (1914-2000), British diplomat, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Tel Aviv (1963-1965)
  • Bruce McNeil "Jackie" Beith (1893-1961), Australian rugby union player for the Wallabies (1914-1920)
  • Alan James Beith (b. 1943), British politician, Member of the UK Parliament


The Beith Motto +

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: Fortuna virtute
Motto Translation: By good fortune and valour.


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 12th December 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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