Show ContentsMcGivern History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the McGivern family

The surname McGivern 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." [1]

"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." [2]

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.' " [3]

Early History of the McGivern family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGivern 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 McGivern History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGivern Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the McGivern family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the McGivern family to Ireland

Some of the McGivern 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.

United States McGivern migration to the United States +

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 [4]
  • Thomas McGivern, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844 [4]
  • Daniel McGivern, who arrived in Iroquois County, Illinois in 1888 [4]
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 immigrated to the United States from Belfast, Ireland, in 1909
  • Selina McGivern, aged 22, who immigrated to America from Co. Down, Ireland, in 1909
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McGivern migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGivern Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Alice McGivern, aged 40, who immigrated to Ottawa, Canada, in 1916
  • Harold McGivern, aged 15, who settled in Ottawa, Canada, in 1916

Australia McGivern migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

McGivern Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James McGivern, English convict who was convicted in Manchester, Greater Manchester, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Clyde" on 11th March 1863, arriving in Western Australia, Australia [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name McGivern (post 1700) +

  • 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
  • William T. McGivern, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, 1990-92 [6]
  • Owen McGivern (1911-1998), American Democratic Party politician, Member of New York State Assembly, 1939-50; Justice of New York Supreme Court 1st District, 1958-76 [6]
  • Lawrence McGivern, American politician, Candidate for Utah State Attorney General, 1916, 1920; Candidate for Governor of Arizona, 1932, 1934 [6]
  • L. J. McGivern, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1936, 1940, 1952; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Iowa 8th District, 1948, 1950 [6]
  • Geoff McGivern (1930-2015), Australian rules footballer who played for Melbourne (1950-1956)
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. 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)
  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
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th February 2021). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 14) . Retrieved from on Facebook