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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

The ancient Scottish name McGavin is carried by the descendents of the Pictish people. It was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith.


The surname McGavin was first found in Inverness-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) divided between the present day Scottish Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles, and consisting of a large northern mainland area and various island areas off the west coast, the shire was anciently both a Pictish and Norwegian stronghold, where the name is from the Gaelic 'Govha' meaning 'a blacksmith' and as such could have been a name that applied to people throughout Scotland. However, as in the case of clans like the Fletchers or Clarks, eventually the name became attributed to a specific area or region. As such, The Clan was also located in Nithsfield in the 12th century, and recorded as a Border Clan. To the west in Elgin and Galloway they were known as the MacGavins.

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. McGavin has appeared MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGavin research. Another 315 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698 and 1725 are included under the topic Early McGavin History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGavin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the McGavin family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 187 words (13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGavin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • James McGavin arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Alice Brooks" in 1839

  • Darren McGavin (1922-2006), American Emmy Award winning actor
  • Charles McGavin (1874-1940), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Illinois 8th District, 1905-09; Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1920
  • Dr. Hugh James McGavin (1874-1958), Canadian politician in Manitoba, Canada
  • Janis McGavin, Australian actress and comedy performer
  • George C. McGavin FLS FRGS, Scottish entomologist, author, academic, television presenter and explorer
  • Major General Sir Donald Johnstone McGavin (1876-1960), English-born, New Zealand surgeon, army health administrator and medical administrator
  • Steven James "Steve" McGavin (b. 1969), English former professional footballer

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: Juncta arma decori
Motto Translation: Arms united to merit.


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    Other References

    1. 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).
    2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    3. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
    4. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    5. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
    6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    7. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
    8. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
    9. 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.
    10. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
    11. ...

    The McGavin Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The McGavin 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 18 May 2016 at 03:20.

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