The forbears of the name MacBerny are thought to be of the ancient Scottish kingdom of Dalriada. The name indicates that the first bearer lived in Brennath in Moray, where the name became Birnie. There is also a Birnie in the shire of Elgin. The village of Birnie was originally called Brenuth, from brae-nut,
which means "hazel trees". Natives of Birnie, using a local
dialect, also called the village Burn-nigh,
which means near the burn river.
This local name, particularly in medieval times, is prefixed by "de", which means "from." During the Middle Ages, the Birney family became a part of the landed gentry and they wielded considerable prestige and influence in the region of the Scottish borderlands.
Early Origins of the MacBerny family
The surname MacBerny was first found in Elginshire
a former county in northeastern Scotland
, in the present day Scottish Council Area of Moray, where Birnie Kirk, a Church of Scotland
church built c. 1140 is still found today. It was the first cathedral of the Bishop of Moray. The church is one of the oldest in Scotland
to have been in continuous use through the centuries.
Birnie Loch is a man-made loch located in North East Fife from a flooded gravel pit. Birnie Island is a small, uninhabited coral island, 20 hectares in area, part of the Phoenix Island group in central Pacific ocean named after the London firm Alexander Birnie & Co in 1823.
The MacBirnie (MacBurnie and MacBurney) variant was first found in 1466 when David M'Birny was a witness in Kirkcudbright. CITATION[CLOSE]
Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
Early History of the MacBerny family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacBerny research.Another 200 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1261, 1500, 1520, 1591, 1680 and are included under the topic Early MacBerny History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacBerny Spelling Variations
Medieval spelling was at best an intuitive process, and translation between Gaelic and English was no more effective. These factors caused an enormous number of spelling variations
in Dalriadan names. In fact, it was not uncommon to see a father and son who spelled their name differently. Over the years, MacBerny has been spelled Birnie, Birney, Birny, Birnye, Byrnye, Byrny, Berney, Birne, Byrne, McBirny, McBirnie, McBurny, McBurnie and many more.
Early Notables of the MacBerny family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early MacBerny Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacBerny family to Ireland
Some of the MacBerny family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 109 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacBerny family to the New World and Oceana
Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence
broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan
societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The MacBerny were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown: William Birnie who settled in Philadelphia in 1811; David Birney settled in Philadelphia in 1840; William McBerney settled in New York State in 1804; James McBirney settled in Philadelphia in 1844.
The MacBerny 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: Sapere aude incipe
Motto Translation: Dare to be wise, begin at once