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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

The McGivern family name comes from a place named by the Viking settlers who arrived in the shores of Scotland in the Middle Ages. The McGivern 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.


Contemporary spellings of ancient Scottish names often bear little resemblance to the original recorded versions. These spelling variations result from the fact that medieval scribes spelled words and names alike according to their sounds. McGivern has been spelled Biggar, Bigare, Bigger, Bigir, Bygar, McGivern, Bigger and many more.

First found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland, now divided into the Council Areas of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and the City of Glasgow, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGivern research. Another 240 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1153, 1160, 1174, 1292, 1329, 1368, and 1614 are included under the topic Early McGivern History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early McGivern Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the McGivern family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 272 words(19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


The colonies on the fertile east coast of North America soon had many farms run by Scots. These hardy settlers provided a backbone for the great nations of the United States and Canada that would emerge in the next centuries. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Scottish name McGivern or a variant listed above, including:

McGivern Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles McGivern, who landed in New York, NY in 1817
  • Thomas McGivern, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844
  • Daniel McGivern, who arrived in Iroquois County, Illinois in 1888

McGivern Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Thomas McGivern, aged 24, who landed in America from Belfast, in 1900
  • Barney McGivern, aged 38, who settled in America from Down, in 1901
  • Henry McGivern, aged 20, who landed in America from London, in 1902
  • James McGivern, aged 30, who emigrated to the United States from Belfast, Ireland, in 1909
  • Selina McGivern, aged 22, who emigrated to America from Co. Down, Ireland, in 1909

McGivern Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • Alice McGivern, aged 40, who emigrated to Ottawa, Canada, in 1916
  • Harold McGivern, aged 15, who settled in Ottawa, Canada, in 1916


  • Charles Francis McGivern (1915-1983), American Captain in the United States Navy, twice awarded the Silver Star
  • John McGivern, American actor and writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Edward "Ed" McGivern (1874-1957), American famous exhibition shooter, shooting instructor and author of the book "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting"
  • William Peter McGivern (1918-1982), American novelist and television scriptwriter who published more than 20 novels
  • Ryan McGivern (b. 1980), American mixed martial artist
  • Geoff McGivern (1930-2015), Australian rules footballer who played for Melbourne (1950-1956)
  • Mark McGivern (b. 1983), British volleyball player at the 2012 Summer Olympics
  • Cecil McGivern CBE (1907-1963), British broadcasting executive, who started with BBC Radio then moving to BBC Television in the late 1940s
  • Geoffrey McGivern (b. 1952), English actor in film, radio, stage and television from Balham, South London
  • Leighton Terence McGivern (b. 1984), English former professional footballer from Liverpool



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  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  4. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  5. 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).
  6. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  7. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  8. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  9. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  11. ...

The McGivern Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McGivern 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 17 August 2015 at 11:11.

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