History of the McGarvie Name

I am  interested in trying to build a family tree… to see how far back I can get the name to go… so if anyone wants to share findings contact me using the link on the left!

Origin: Irish

Today’s Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name McGarvie originally appeared in Gaelic as O Gairbhin, derived from the word garbh, which means rough.

Spelling variations include: Garvin, Garvey, Garwin, Garvine, Garven, Garvan, Garvy, Garvie, Garwen and many more.

McGarvie (and variants) were first found in county Tyrone/Donegall where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

These different spellings are not surprising. In those days the parish clerk was one of the few men in each community able to read and write. It is easy to picture a succession of such men struggling to copy down the name as it was pronounced to them. The practice of spelling a word always in the same was just being established.

In Ireland, “son of” is usually “Mc” (McGarvie), but it’s interesting to note that at one time in Ireland the head of the clan was the grandfather and thus we have O’ (from Ogha meaning grandson of) Brien, O’Donnel and O’Neill.

In the Scottish [yes: Scottish] Highlands, “Mac” indicating “son of” is very popular (MacDonald, MacWilliam), but if the letter following the “c” of the “Mac” is not capitalized, then the latter part of the name is not a Christian name but instead has an occupational derivation, eg, Macnab (son of the abbot), Macintyre (son of the carpenter) and Macpherson (son of the parson).

Motto: Morior Invictus
Translation: Death before Defeat
Note: The mistake on the family crest is an error by a scribe’s rendering of Latin. The motto should be ‘Morior Invictus’ and not ‘Mirior Invictus.’

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Paul McGarvie

    small piece of history for you then. Mundy McGarvie was in the first Roll of the Gordon Highlanders in 1794.

  2. Sue McGarvie

    Yolu might be interested in the book “Fanad on Foot” by my uncle Michael McGarvie. Amazing history of the family with a part dedicated to the branch where we came in, but that’s another story.

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