MacKivern History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The MacKivern family name comes from a place name that was first used among the Viking settlers who arrived in the shores of Scotland in the Middle Ages. The MacKivern name comes from someone having lived in east Lanarkshire, in a place probably named from the Old Norse words "bygg," meaning "barley," and "geiri," denoting a triangular plot of land.
Early Origins of the MacKivern family
The surname MacKivern was first found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland at Biggar, a parish and market-town, on the road from Dumfries to Edinburgh.
"The original name of this place, as it occurs in several ancient charters, is generally written Biger, or Bigre, and is supposed to have been derived from the nature of the ground on which the castle of the family of Biggar was situated (in the centre of a soft morass), and to have been thence applied to the whole of the parish; and from the same circumstance, the castle assumed the name of Boghall. The manor was granted by David I. to Baldwin, a Flemish leader, whose descendants still retain the surname of Fleming; they appear to claim a very remote antiquity, and the name of Baldwin de Biger appears in testimony to a charter, prior to the year 1160." 
"Baldwin de Bigir, who appears as sheriff of Lanark in the reign of Malcolm IV is the first known to bear the territorial designation. Between 1147-1160 Balwinus de Digir (Bigir) witnessed the grant by Arnold, Abbot of Kelso, of the lands of Douglas to Theobaldus Flamaticus. Sometime after 1170 Baldwin de Bigre, sheriff of Lanark, granted the church of Innyrkvp beyond the Moors (ultra mores) to the monks of Paisley. Waldeve, Baldwin's son, was taken prisoner at Alnwick along with King William the Lion in 1174. In 1228 Hugh the son of Robert de Bygris appears in a grant to St. Machute of Lesmahagow, in which he is styled Hugo de Bygris films Roberti filii Waldevi de Bigris." 
To the south in England, one of the first records of the family was "Nicholas de Bichar" who witnesses a charter of William de Granavilla to Gateshead: and was, without doubt, the same Nicholas, mentioned in the Rot. Cur. Northumbriae, who was Lord of Byker, near Newcastle, in the reign of Henry III. This manor was anciently held in grand serjeancy, by carrying the King's writ between the rivers Tyne and Coquet, and making distresses of goods for the King's debts.- Hutchinson's Northumberland.
The family continued there till 1346. Richard de Bicker was summoned to attend the great Council at Westminster in 1324.- Palgrave's Parl. Writs.
"The name is found at a rather earlier date in Lincolnshire, where Gerard de Bikere occurs in the Rotul. Cancellarii of 1202, and was presumably the owner of Bicker, 'a very ancient and pleasant village, nine miles from Folkingham.' " 
Early History of the MacKivern family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacKivern research. Another 248 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1153, 1153, 1160, 1174, 1292, 1329, 1329, 1433, 1621, 1614, 1912, 1912, 1368, 1664, 1878, 1863, 1927, 1828, and are included under the topic Early MacKivern History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacKivern Spelling Variations
Translation and spelling were non-standardized practices in the Middle Ages, so scribes had only their ears to rely on. This was a practice of extremely limited efficiency, and spelling variations in names, even within a single document, were the result. Over the years, MacKivern has appeared Biggar, Bigare, Bigger, Bigir, Bygar, McGivern, Bigger and many more.
Early Notables of the MacKivern family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early MacKivern Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacKivern family to Ireland
Some of the MacKivern family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 221 words (16 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 MacKivern family
The fertile east coast of what would become US and Canada was soon dotted with the farms of Scottish settlers. Some of them remained faithful to the crown and called themselves United Empire Loyalists, while others had the chance to pay back their old oppressors in the American War of Independence. That brave spirit lives on today in the highland games that dot North America in the summer. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the MacKivern family came to North America quite early: Gilbert Bigger who settled in Baltimore in 1754; David Bigger settled in New Hampshire in 1718; James Biggart settled in Pennsylvania in 1772.
Related Stories +
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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)
- ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3