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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

MacBean is an ancient Pictish-Scottish name. It is derived from the Gaelic word Beathan or betha which means life. Bean was also the name of a saint in the Breviary of Aberdeen.


The surname MacBean was first found in Aberdeen (part of the modern Grampian region), where one of the first times the name arose was a Bean who was a magistrate circa 1210. It is known, however, that the MacBains moved to Invernessshire, as sod bearers to the Chiefs of the great Clan Chattan (a powerful confederation of early Clans). The name literally means "son of the fair lad," and was frequently translated to MacBean (Bain).

Translation has done much to alter the appearance of many Scottish names. It was a haphazard process that lacked a basic system of rules. Spelling variations were a common result of this process. MacBean has appeared Bean, Beane, Beyn, Bayn, Bene, Bane, Baine, Beine, Bayne, Beyne, Been, Beaine, MacBain, MacBean, MacVain, MacBean, MacVan and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacBean research. Another 194 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1411, 1550, and 1745 are included under the topic Early MacBean History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early MacBean Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the MacBean family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many Scots left their country to travel to the North American colonies in search of the freedom they could not find at home. Of those who survived the difficult voyage, many found the freedom they so desired. There they could choose their own beliefs and allegiances. Some became United Empire Loyalists and others fought in the American War of Independence. The Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up in the last century have allowed many of these disparate Scots to recover their collective national identity. A search of immigration and passenger ship lists revealed many early settlers bearing the MacBean name:

MacBean Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Francis Macbean, who landed in Maryland in 1716

MacBean Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • B. A. Macbean, aged 49, who landed in America from London, in 1892
  • Mrs. B. A. Macbean, aged 46, who landed in America from London, England, in 1892

MacBean Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Edward MacBean, aged 58, who emigrated to the United States from Glasgow, in 1906
  • Ed. Macbean, aged 38, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1908
  • Edward Macbean, aged 60, who landed in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1909
  • Lachlan Macbean, aged 16, who landed in America from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910
  • William MacBean, aged 38, who landed in America, in 1920

MacBean Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • William Macbean, aged 20, who settled in Carbonear, Newfoundland, in 1909
  • Ronald E. Macbean, aged 21, who settled in Kelowna, Canada, in 1912


  • Andrew MacBean (b. 1963), Canadian-born, American theatre director and writer
  • Major Forbes MacBean, Scottish Major-General and Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII
  • Major-General William MacBean, Scottish officer of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders who served with great distinction at the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, eulogized by a monument in Inverness Town House
  • Sir William MacBean George Colebrooke (1787-1870), Scottish career soldier, lieutenant governor of New Brunswick, Canada in 1841
  • Marnie MacBean OC, MSM (1968-1992), Canadian two-time Olympic gold medalist rower at the 1992 Summer Olympics
  • John William MacBean AM (1935-1984), Australian trade union leader, Secretary of the Labor Council of New South Wales (1984-1988)


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: Touch not the catt bot a targe
Motto Translation: Touch not the cat without a shield.


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  1. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  2. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  3. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  4. 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.
  5. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  6. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  8. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  11. ...

The MacBean Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacBean 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 4 March 2015 at 12:47.

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