MacBirnie History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The name MacBirnie was first used in the ancient Scottish kingdom of Dalriada. It indicates that the first bearer lived in Brennath in Moray, where the name became Birnie. Birnie is a parish in the county of Elgin. "This place is said by some to have been the site of the first cathedral of the diocese of Moray; and it is probable that Simeon de Tonei, one of the bishops, was buried here, in 1184". 
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 MacBirnie family
The surname MacBirnie 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.
"James de Brennath (the early form of the place name), burgess of Elgin, was one of an inquest concerning the King's garden there in 1261. William de Brennath, dictus Tatenel, witnessed the gift by Hugh Herock, burgess of Elgin, to the church of Elgin in 1286, and Andrew de Bienach was clerk to Sir Dovenald, earl of Mar in 1291. Walter de Branach was the king's chaplain in Moray, 1360. William de Byrneth, canon of the church of Moray, appears as a witness in 1463, Nicholas Birne was a chaplain in 1514, and William Byrny was burgess of Edinburgh in 1558." 
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. 
Early History of the MacBirnie family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacBirnie research. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1261, 1500, 1520, 1591, 1680, 1563, 1619, 1563, 1584 and are included under the topic Early MacBirnie History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacBirnie 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, MacBirnie has been spelled Birnie, Birney, Birny, Birnye, Byrnye, Byrny, Berney, Birne, Byrne, McBirny, McBirnie, McBurny, McBurnie and many more.
Early Notables of the MacBirnie family (pre 1700)
Another 44 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacBirnie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacBirnie family to Ireland
Some of the MacBirnie family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 84 words (6 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 MacBirnie family
Many of the ancestors of Dalriadan families who arrived in North America still live in communities along the east coast of Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence many of the original settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the ancestors of many Scots began recovering their collective national heritage through Clan societies, highland games, and other patriotic events. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name MacBirnie or a variant listed above: 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.
Related Stories +
The MacBirnie 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
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
- ^ 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)