McVain History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The background history of the name McVain starts in ancient Scotland among the Pictish people. The name McVain is derived from the Gaelic word Beathan or betha which means life. Bean was also the name of a saint in the Breviary of Aberdeen.

Early Origins of the McVain family

The surname McVain was first found in Aberdeen (part of the modern Grampian region), where one of the first times the name arose was a Bean who was a magistrate circa 1210. It is known, however, that the MacBains moved to Invernessshire, as sod bearers to the Chiefs of the great Clan Chattan (a powerful confederation of early Clans). The name literally means "son of the fair lad," and was frequently translated to MacBean (Bain.)

Saint Bean or Beyn ( fl. 1011), was, according to Fordun, appointed first bishop of Murthlach by Malclom II, at the instance of Pope Benedict VIII. A fragment of the charter of Malcolm II (1003-1029?), preserved in the register of the diocese of Aberdeen confirms this claim. [1] However, St. Bean is distinctly referred to as a native of Ireland: 'In Hybernia natalis Beani primi episcopi Aberdonensis et confessoris'. [1]

Early History of the McVain family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McVain research. Another 139 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1411, 1400, 1550 and 1745 are included under the topic Early McVain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McVain Spelling Variations

Prior to the invention of the printing press in the last hundred years, documents were basically unique. Names were written according to sound, and often appeared differently each time they were recorded. Spelling variations of the name McVain include Bean, Beane, Beyn, Bayn, Bene, Bane, Baine, Beine, Bayne, Beyne, Been, Beaine, MacBain, MacBean, MacVain, MacBean, MacVan and many more.

Early Notables of the McVain family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the McVain family to Ireland

Some of the McVain family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McVain migration to the United States +

The freedom of the North American colonies was enticing, and many Scots left to make the great crossing. It was a long and hard journey, but its reward was a place where there was more land than people and tolerance was far easier to come by. Many of these people came together to fight for a new nation in the American War of Independence, while others remained loyal to the old order as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of Scots in North America have recovered much of this heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and other such organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important and early immigrants to North America bearing the name of McVain:

McVain Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary McVain, aged 21, who landed in New York, NY in 1775 [2]
  • Sarah McVain, aged 17, who arrived in New York, NY in 1775 [2]
McVain Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Adolphus McVain, aged 31, arrived in New York in 1895 aboard the ship "Umbria" from Liverpool, England [3]
  • Rachel McVain, aged 33, arrived in New York in 1895 aboard the ship "Umbria" from Liverpool, England [4]
McVain Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • John McVain, aged 1901, originally from Glasgow, Scotland, arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Oriana" from Glasgow, Scotland [5]


The McVain Motto +

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: Touch not the catt bot a targe
Motto Translation: Touch not the cat without a shield.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JX35-52R : 6 December 2014), Adolphus McVain, 28 Sep 1895; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Umbria, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  4. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JX35-RM9 : 6 December 2014), Rachel McVain, 28 Sep 1895; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Umbria, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  5. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J646-TMZ : 6 December 2014), John McVain, 06 Mar 1919; citing departure port Glasgow, Scotland, arrival port New York, ship name Oriana, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


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