to Family Members
The family name
McBeath or occasionally McBeth occurs in our ancestry. The McBeath usage
seems to have been retained in Ireland and Scotland whereas McBeth is
more common in the USA line.
James McBeath (1795 - 1843)
The family can
be traced back to my 2nd Great Grandfather, James McBeath who was born
c. 1795 in Cymber (present day Cumber), Londonderry, Ireland. He
married Mary Denniston, sometime before 1828 and they had 8 children.
He died c. 1843. Cymber no longer exists, and has likely become Cumber,
which by 1837 was split into Cumber Upper
and Cumber Lower. The McBeaths, Millars and Mowbreys all came from farming
families in the Cumber-Coleraine region of Londonderry. Much of this heritage has been researched
by my cousin, Dr
Chris Morrow, Ballynamore Road, Cumber.
James and Mary's
4th son William emigrated to the USA in 1860, at the age of 23, in
the aftermath of the Great
Potato Famine of 1846-49. He changed the spelling of his name to
'McBETH' which nicely distinguishes that line from the Irish one.
Cumber Lower (1837) is a parish, in the barony of TIRKEERAN,
county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 6 miles (S. E. by
S.) from Londonderry, on the road to Dungiven; containing 4584 inhabitants.
This parish was separated from the original parish of Cumber in
1794, when this portion of it, comprising, according to the Ordnance
survey, 14,909 statute acres, was constituted a parish of itself.
The land under cultivation is very fertile, particularly that portion
which lies in the vale of the Faughan; good pasturage is obtained
on the mountains, which compose about one-third of its surface.
Several mountain streams run through the parish, of which the Burntallaght
is the most interesting; on this water is a beautiful cascade, called
the Neiss, which falls over a ridge of clay-slate nearly 80 feet.
Considerable portions of the parish are the property of some
of the London chartered companies, by whom great improvements have
been effected. In the vale of the Faughan, which extends through
the parish and is pleasingly wooded, stand several elegant houses,
surrounded by grounds of singular beauty. The inhabitants combine
with their agricultural pursuits the weaving of linen cloth; and
there is an extensive bleach-green, where 16,000 pieces are annually
finished, principally for the English market. There are several
handsome bridges both of wood and stone, and between the Oaks and
Oaks Lodge is a suspension bridge, which, as seen from the road,
has a very pleasing effect. The principal residences are the Oaks,
that of Acheson Lyle, Esq.; Oaks Lodge, of Hugh Lyle, Esq.;the Cross,
of James Smith, Esq.; and the Glebe-house, of the Rev. William Hayden.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and in the
patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £560. The glebe-house
was erected in 1800, by a gift of £100 from the late Board of First
Fruits: the glebe comprises 106 acres, of which about 30 are uncultivated.
The church is a convenient and substantial edifice, built in 1795,
by aid of a gift of £500 from the Board. The rector has every fifth
presentation to the perpetual cure of Learmount, a district formed
out of the original parish of Cumber, in 1831.
In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is partly in the
union or district of Glendermot, and partly in that of Cumber Claudy;
the chapel, which belongs to the former, is a small edifice, situated
at Mullaghbuoy, in the mountain district. The Presbyterians have
a large meeting-house at Breakfield, in connection with the Synod
of Ulster, of the first class. The male and female parochial schools
at Aughill are supported by the rector; and there are large schools
at Ervey, Tamnamore, and Ballinamore;
the first was built and is supported by the Grocers' Company. The
remains of antiquity are numerous; at Slaght Manus is a very large
cromlech, the table stone of which is 10 feet long, and is supported
by four pillars; and at Mullaghbuoy are the remains of another,
but less perfect. In the townland of Listress is a large artificial
cave, with five chambers, all built of field stones, covered with
broad flag-stones, over which is a covering of earth two feet thick.
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837)
Cumber Upper is a parish,
partly in the barony of STRABANE, county of TYRONE, but chiefly in that
of TIRKEERAN, county of DERRY, and province of ULSTER, 7 ½ miles
(N. E.) from Londonderry; containing, with Claudy (which has a daily
penny post), 5430 inhabitants. The early history of this parish cannot
be satisfactorily traced, further than that St. Patrick, having crossed
the Foyle, founded several churches in this district, one of which
occupied the site of the present church of Cumber. The original name is
variously written by early historians; the present is modern, and
acquired since the taxation of Pope Nicholas in 1291. At the
Reformation the rectory belonged to the abbey of Derry, and was given
by James I. to the bishop, as part of the abbey lands. In 1622, it
appears, by the Ulster Visitation book, to have been held with Banagher.
The ancient parish of Cumber was the most extensive in the diocese,
until 1794, when it was divided into Upper and Lower Cumber, by order
in council: the parish of Upper Cumber, according to the Ordnance
survey, comprising 26,202 ¼ statute acres, of which 23,072
¾ are in Derry, and 3129 ½ in Tyrone; the latter form a
hilly district amid the Mounterloney mountains. In some parts,
particularly on the Walworth estate, and on that of Learmont, the land,
though hilly, is well cultivated; the extensive bogs are being worked
out, and brought into cultivation.
The inhabitants combine the weaving of linen cloth, with agricultural
pursuits; there are several commodious and excellent bleach-greens
on the Faughan water, none of which, however, are now at work. The
southern parts of the parish consist chiefly of mountains, the principal
of which is Sawel, the highest in the county, being 2236 feet above
the level of the sea; its summit is on the boundary between two
counties. These mountains afford excellent pasturage on every side;
and the rivers Faughan, Glenrandle, and Dungorthin have their sources
in them. There are large woods and much valuable timber in the demesne
of Park- Learmont; and the plantations of Cumber, Alla, and Kilcatton
greatly embellish the surrounding scenery. There are several large
and elegant houses, of which the principal are Learmont, the seat
of Barre Beresford, Esq.; Cumber House, of John H. Browne, Esq.;
Kilcatton Hall, of Alexander Ogilby, Esq.; and Alla, of the Rev.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Derry, and forms
the corps of a prebend in the cathedral of Derry, in the patronage
of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £740. The glebe, situated in
Glenrandle, half a mile from the church, consists of the townlands
of Alla, Gilky Hill, and Tullentraim, containing 1508 statute acres.
The church is a large modern edifice, with a small bell turret on
the western gable, erected in 1757, on the site of an ancient building.
In 1831, eight townlands were separated from the parish, to form
part of the new district or parish of Learmont, and the rector of
Upper Cumber has the alternate presentation to that perpetual cure.
In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is partly included in
the union or district of Banagher, and partly forms the head of
a district, comprising also a part of that of Lower Cumber; there
are chapels at Claudy and Gortscreagan.
The Presbyterians have a meeting-house at Claudy, in connection
with the Synod of Ulster. The parochial school, situated on the
glebe lands of Alla, is well built and convenient; it is supported
by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, and is under the management
of the rector, who has endowed it with two acres of land. Male and
female schools were built and are supported by the Fishmongers'
Company; and they have also excellent male and female schools at
Gortilea and Killycor. There are also schools at Ballyarton, Craig,
Kilcatton, and Claudy. A female school at Claudy is principally
supported by Lady Catherine Brownlow, who likewise contributes to
some others. A female work school at Cumber was built and is supported
by Mrs. Browne and other ladies of the parish. A male and female
school at Learmont is principally supported by the Beresford family.
There are also Sunday schools and a private day school. At Mulderg
is a large dispensary, built and supported by the Fishmongers' Company.
There are the remains of a druidical altar at Baltibrecan; and at
Altaghoney were discovered, in the summer of 1835, three stone coffins,
each covered with three flag stones, and in each an urn containing
ashes, calcined bones, &c. The graves were two feet deep in the
gravel, where 8 feet of bog had been cut off the surface; and near
the coffins were two idols, carved out of solid oak, which, with
the urns, are now in good preservation, in the museum of Alex. Ogilby,
Esq., of Kilcatton, who has also a good collection of lands/Family-Pages/McBeath/capes,
groups, &c, more than 200 of which are from his own pencil.
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837)
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
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
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 same way.
Coats of Arms, Crests.
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.