McBeath/McBeth Family Name
This surname McBETH
was common in Scotland in early times from the 11th to the 14th century.
In old Gaelic it was spelt MACC BETHAD, and means 'son of life' a name
for a religious person or meaning 'one of the elect' a man of the cloth.
In modern Gaelic the name is spelt as Macbeatha. A twelth-century
variant, Malbeth is found in record. It is thought the spelling McBeath,
a variant more common in Ireland, may infact be the original, which
was carried to Scotland from Northern Ireland in the 5th century by
the then Scots or Scotti.
Macbeth (1005-1057) mormaer
of Moray, became king of Scots after having murdered King Duncan I at
Bothnagowan near Elgin on 14th August 1040. "The use he made of his
acquired power so far as authentic records show, was generally for the
good of his country; while his character, far from being irresolute,
was marked by vigour and ability. He was a friend of the poor, the protector
of the monks and the first Scottish king whose name appears in ecclesiastical
record as the benefactor of the Church" (A short history of the Scottish
Highlands, Mackenzie, published in 1906).
Alba, the country which became
Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled
most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who
had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including
modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed
much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots.
The latter came to Alba from
the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in
present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland.
The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker. Other records of
the name mention John McBehaig and Duncan N'Behaig, who were servants
to John Campbell, prior of Ardchattan in 1622.
The associated coat of arms
is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms
in 1884. Granted in Scotland in 1678.
It has long been a matter of
doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and
it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men
went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became
the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests,
and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms
accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the
Coats of Arms, Crests.
It's customary to link (or attempt
to link) one's family name to a Coat of Arms or Heraldic Crest. Some
of them may be associated with the family, but not always.
In the case of McBeath/McBeth,
I have identified the following, one of which may have been legitimately
used by 'our' McBeaths, but I have found no compelling evidence for
a particular Crest.