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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McGavin family come from? What is the Scottish McGavin family crest and coat of arms? When did the McGavin family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McGavin family history?

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.

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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.

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.


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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.

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Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGavin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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.

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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

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  • 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


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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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  1. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  5. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. 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. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  11. ...

The McGavin Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com 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 21 October 2015 at 11:27.

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