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2,397 study surnames with us
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About the study

The McVeigh surname is Gaelic in origin. Scottish MacVey and MacVeagh are septs of Clan MacLean of Duart. McVeighs are also found in Ireland and one of the purposes of this study would ultimately be to try to determine if the two branches are related and the name derived from the same original source and location. This is a new project under construction, but I have been collecting data for this project and have GEDCOMs available for anyone that is interested. Watch for updates.

Variant names

The following are known variants that have been tied into the main line: MacVeigh McAveigh McVaigh McVey McVie McBey McVeagh McVaugh McVea MacVay. The following are possible variants that have not been proven yet: McBeath MacBeth. The following are misspellings that have been found in the records but not proven as a true variant: McCveigh McVeeigh. McVieigh McVaigh Mcfeigh McVaih

Name origin

This is an ancient surname of early Gaelic origins. It is derived from 'Maccbethad' (modern Scottish 'Macbeth'), meaning 'son of life', or 'man of religion'. In addition to Scotland, the name is quite common in North East Ulster, Ireland. It is found in a wide variety of spellings which include McVeigh, McVaugh, McVagh, McVaugh, McVey, McBey, McVie, McVea and McVeagh. Its probable place of origin for the Scottish branch was in the Scottish Islands of Mull and Islay where in the medieval times it is believed that they were the hereditary physicians to the region. They were also, it is said, great historians, and collectors of ancient manuscripts.

Historical occurrences of the name

The first recorded spelling of the family name so far found is that of John McVay, which was dated between October 24th and 29th, 1504, in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, during the reign of King James IV of Scotland, 1488-1513. Vol. XII, p. 661 "Johanni McVay pro 1/2 bovada" located in Gargiston, Ardmanach, Scotland [on the Isle of Mull]. On p. 662 "Donaldo McVey j bovada" was located at "Dryne, Estir Kessok with the Fery" [also on Mull]. There is also listed "assdatur McVay pro j bovata" at "the Hiltoune alias Ballnaknok." On p. 663 is listed in Dochmalook, Ross. "McVay j Bovata." Exchequer Rolls of Scotland Cite as Scotland. Court of Exchequer., . (18781908). The exchequer rolls of Scotland =: Rotuli scaccarii regum Scotorum. Edinburgh: General Register House. John McVeigh was a prominent rebel in the 1798 rebellion of Ireland and was executed at Baltinglass. Church recordings include Leiticia McVeagh, daughter of Hugh McVeagh, who married Thomas Gordon on the April 1st 1785, at Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. This is the earliest found McVeigh marriage so far [LDS FHL Film 993527 Marriage of Letitia McVeagh and Thomas Gordon. Anna McVey, aged 25, who is recorded as being a 'Famine Emigrant', sailed on the ship 'Manchester' from Belfast to New York, on September 25th 1846.

Distribution of the name

1880 Census: USA 552. 1881 Census: England 149, Scotland 139, Wales 6. 1901 Census: Ireland 1869. 2014: USA 3,829, Northern Ireland 2,575, England 2,549, Australia 1,005, Canada 794, Ireland 470, Scotland 368, New Zealand 192, South Africa 183, Wales 147.