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THE SURNAME NEVIN
So the name appears from the eleventh century onwards throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and Scotland - to the Shetland Islands and the islands of the west coast. In Wales it is restricted to the town of Nevin in Caernarvonshire. In England families of Nevins and Nevinson have been long established, a prominent family of the name in Leeds came originally from County Kildare, Ireland.
The name would appear to be of Irish origin, first appearing as Cnaimhin (mh = v) in the so called Roll of Milessian Kings of Ireland, descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. Indeed the founding of the Nevin family has been attributed to Brian, son of Eocha Moy Veagon, King of Ireland, AD 350, and also to O’Cnaimhin, a direct descendant Eoghan Mor (Owen the Great). Eoghan Mor married Beara, daughter of the King of Castile, in Spain; and their son Olioll Olum, married Sabina, daughter of Conn the Hundred Fighter, and was the first of this line to become King of both Munsters. He was succeeded by his third son, Cian, King of Munster, the paternal ancestor of Cnaimhin or Nevin.
Mythical history aside, the name is undoubtedly ancient for it is found in Ireland in the sixth century as Glasnevin, a celebrated school and monastery near Dublin, and the death of an abbot of Glasnevin is recorded by the Annalists in 882. Glasnevin is today a park and cemetery in the suburbs of Dublin.
In the eleventh century the MacCnaimhins were chiefs of a district called Crannoge MacCnaimhin (fort or house of MacNevin), in the parish of Tynagh, barony of Leitrim, county Galway, and ranked to the end of the 16th century among the principal families in Ireland of Irish origin.
How or when the name was brought to Scotland is not known. The most important early migration to Scotland took place in 500 AD, the Irish settling in the western islands and Lowland shires where the name Cnaimhin or Nevin is among the earliest known. It is very probable that some of the family went north through Wales for it is known that Irish colonists settled there and on the Caernarvon shore is the town of Nevin, where in 1284, Edward I held his triumph on the conquest of Wales. Here, becoming affiliated with the Montgomeries, they may have gone north with them as followers of the Earl of Huntingdon, afterward David I, of Scotland (1124-1153). As early as 1392, one Nevin, "clericus" is mentioned in an instrument of John Montgomerie of Eaglesham.
A Montgomerie of Eaglesham in 1361 married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Hugh Eglinton, obtaining by this alliance the lands of Eglinton in the parish of Kilwinning, Ayrshire, with Eglinton Castle as their principal seat. The Lairds of Auldhall, Kirkwood, and Monkredding, Nevin estates, lying adjacent to the Eglinton lands, became servants or deputies of the Dukes of Eglinton and Kinsmen by marriage.
In the twelfth century when the history of Scotland was emerging from chaos the name of Nevin appears in Dumbartonshire, born by no less a person than the Parson of Rosneath.
A century later, AD 1296, Patrick, son of John Nevin of Lanark, swears fealty to Edward I at Berwick; and in 1297, Niven MacThomas, son of MacRory, was one of the eleven hostages contained in Bruce’s castle of Lochmaben, Dumfries. They were given as pledges for the loyalty of Galloway and all but one, Robert MacMaster, perished from ill treatment and suffering before the 8 September 1300.
"Walterum filium Thame filie Neuine: (Walter son of Thomas son of Nevin) was one of the "good and faithful men of the country" who, at Nairne, on Wednesday the Feast of St Lawrence, 1295, gave their oaths to the valuation of "Kilravock and Estir Gedey’s" the property of Hugh Rose, neighbor of Donald, Thane of Cawdor.
The 18 June 1412, Ronald Campbell obtained a precept of sasins from Sir Colin Iongatach for infeftment in the lands of . . . Island Macniven.
At Inishail, 29 February 1446/7 Charter by Duncan le Cambell, knight, Lord of Lochow and Lieutenant of our Lord the King in the districts of Argyll, to his beloved cousin, Reginald, son of Malcolm of Craiginche, Lord of Corbarran &O . . . . "and Sir Nevin our Chaplain." Another instance of the clerical nature of the name.
21 March 1473, William Nevin, King’s Messenger, was allowed 40 shillings, by the Lord High Treasurer, for his expenses in carrying letters from the King to the Earl of Ross and the Earl of Huntley (George ) forays had attracted the monarch’s attention.
The 3 March 1480, a Charter which begins: "Be it kind &c . . . . me Gelis the Ross the douchter of Schir Johnne the Ross of Halkeel, Knicht, . . ." mentions the "2 merkis worth of land of the samyn that Willie Nevin and Nichol Mertyne duellis in." This land was in the sheriffdom of Ayr and barony of Auchinleck.
In 1497 Isobel Macnevin, daughter and heiress of Baron Macnevin of Dunachton Castle, Loch Insh, Strathspey, married William, Chief of Mackintosh. And in the Shire of Haddington.
"10 September 1498, The King for good services granted to Alexander Nevyn and his heirs and assignees, three lands and tenements with houses, biggings and yard thereof in the burgh of North Berwick on the north side of the High Street thereof - which formerly belonged to William Fresall burgess of the said burgh, and now fallen in the King’s hands by reason of the bastardy of the said William. Witnesses, William Bishop of Aberdeen, Keeper of the Privy Seal, George Earl of Huntlie Lord Badyenach, chancellor Archibald Earl of Ergile Lord Campbell and Lorne, Master of the King’s Household, Patrick Earl of Bothuile Lord Halis, Alexander Lord Hume, Great Chamberlain, John Lord Drummond Justiciar Robert Lundy of Balgony Knight Treasurer, Mr. Richard Murehede Dean of Glasgow, Secretary to the King and Mr. Walter Drummond Dean of Dunblane Clerk of the Rolls, Register and Council."
"NOTES TO CHAPTER ONE" follow here. The longest is a long description in Latin of the town of Niven on the Caernarvon shore. Then Nevin proceeds to a discussion of ARMORIAL BEARINGS.