Niffen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The first people to use the name Niffen were a family of Strathclyde- Britons who lived in the Scottish/English Borderlands. The name comes from when someone lived in Ayrshire. The surname Niffen was also regarded as derived from the Gaelic patronymic Mac Naoimhin, which is derived from the word "naomh," meaning "little saint." The name was a favorite personal name in Galloway and Ayrshire. [1] [2]

Another source claims the name "points to an early but forgotten personal name," [3] but the lion's share of sources point to the aforementioned "little saint" origin.

Early Origins of the Niffen family

The surname Niffen was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, where the first record of the family appeared in the Latin form Nevinus, who was parson of Neveth and witnessed grant of a saltpan in Rosneath to the monks of Paisley, c. 1230. [1]

"Patrick filius Nevyn mentioned in 1284 is doubtless Patrick fiz John Nevyn or Neivin of Lanerkshire who rendered homage, 1296. Thomas filius Neuini served on an inquest in 1295, another Thomas filius Nyuini or Niuini was a tenant in Garvalde, 1376, and Crunyhatoun was leased to Robert filius Niuini in the same year." [1]

Some of the family ventured south into England where as a forename Neuyn filius Ade was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland in 1332 and Thomas filius Neuini was listed in 1295. [4]

Early History of the Niffen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Niffen research. Another 372 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1230, 1400, 1296, 1386, 1538, 1590, 1635, 1635, 1675, 1793, 1539, 1594, 1680, 1715, 1700, 1639, 1684, 1686, 1744, 1686, 1634, 1703, 1725, 1695, 1707, 1711, 1720, 1721, 1722 and 1650 are included under the topic Early Niffen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Niffen Spelling Variations

Surnames that evolved in Scotland in the Middle Ages often appear under many spelling variations. These are due to the practice of spelling according to sound in the era before dictionaries had standardized the English language. Niffen has appeared as Niven, Nevin, Nevins, Nivens, Navin, Newin, Nevane, Niffen, Nifen, Niving, Neving, Newing, Neiven, Nivine, Nevison, Niveson and many more.

Early Notables of the Niffen family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Kate McNiven (died 1715), also called Kate Nevin, a young nurse who served the House of Inchbrakie in the Parish of Monzie, near Crieff in Scotland in the early 1700s, she was one of the...
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Niffen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Niffen family to Ireland

Some of the Niffen 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 Niffen migration to the United States +

The North American colonies beckoned, with their ample land and opportunity as their freedom from the persecution suffered by so many Clan families back home. Many Scots even fought against England in the American War of Independence to gain this freedom. Recently, clan societies have allowed the ancestors of these brave Scottish settlers to rediscover their familial roots. Among them:

Niffen Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Charles Niffen, who arrived in New York aboard the ship Manhattan in 1919 from London, England [5]


The Niffen 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: Vivis sperandum
Motto Translation: Where there is life there is hope


  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. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Supplement to Irish Families. Baltimore: Genealogical Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6WT-J6K : 6 December 2014), Charles Niffen, 23 Aug 1919; citing departure port London, England, arrival port , ship name Manhattan, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


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