Nevin (surname)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Motto: Nil Desperandum (Do Not Despair)

Nevin is a surname of Irish (Gallowglass) origin. Two etymologies are given. It may originate from Cnamhín, derived from Cnamh, "a bone", possibly a nickname in reference to the first chief of the clan who was a bony or large-boned man.[1][2][3] Secondly, it may be an Anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic form MacCnaimhín / Ó Cnaimhín / MacCnaomhín / Ó Cnaomhín or Ní Chnáimhín / Ní Chnáomhín (female),[4] meaning "Little Saint" or "Saintly" / "Believer in Saints" / "Religious".[5]

Nevin Modern Placement[edit]

The name Nevin is particularly found along the north and west coast of Ireland in Londonderry, Donegal, Mayo and Galway where many settled around the 13th century, having been Gallowglass Mercenaries,[not in citation given][6] and in the north and west of Scotland. The Nevins are notable per local population in Achill and the surrounding islands in County Mayo and around Coleraine and Derry. Possible sources of the family have been cited as: Achill Island, Athenry, Mayo village and Mulranny in Ireland, as well as Braco, Isle of Bute, Kilwinning, and Lanark, in Scotland. Nevin has often been anglicised as McNevin, Nieven, McNieven, McNiven, Navin, Knavin and Niven, amongst many others. The main Scots translation, most likely due to accent, is Niven / McNiven.[7][8]

Nevins in History[edit]

The family name of Nevin originated somewhere within Scotland and Ireland sometime before the 6th Century.[not in citation given][6] Although it is uncertain whether the family name originated in Ireland or Scotland, it is clear that there had been mutual migration between the two countries for several hundreds of years prior to the 13th century.[8] It is possible that the Nevins first left Ireland for Scotland with the Dalriadan Scots or more likely, with a Gaelic migration sometime pre 5th Century.[7][8] Nevins have been noted in presence well before the 10th century[not in citation given] on the west coast of Scotland, most notably in Ayrshire, Islay, Bute and the Hebrides. The family were also noted in Ireland well before the 10th Century[not in citation given] and are mentioned numerously as an ancient family of the Uí Maine of Connacht in O'Donovan's "The Hy Many".[8][9] The family obtained a Seat near Athenry, Galway in the early 14th Century, most likely gifted as a payment for mercenary service.[not in citation given][6] It is assumed the Nevin family's large presence in modern Ireland arrived with the Gallowglass sometime before the 14th Century.[not in citation given][1][7][8]

Nevins and English Rule[edit]

The Nevins appear to have had many disputes with English rulers. Patrick Nevin, son of John of Lanark, Scotland, was summoned to Berwick in 1296 and made to sign the Ragman Roll along with the likes of Robert de Brus.[10] In February 1429 Patrick Nevin died in the initial assault by the Scots forces during the Battle of the Herrings, Orléans, against the English. In 1602 the chief of the MacCnaimhíns in Galway was hanged for rebelling against Elizabeth I outside of his home at Crannagh MacCnaimhín, near Gort in Galway.[11][12] In 1603 a branch of the Ayrshire & Galloway Nevins were exiled to Ireland.[13] In 1745 John Nevin of Aberdeen was imprisoned in Carlisle alongside his young son James for their part in the Jacobite Uprising and was later executed. His son James went on to become a composer of Jacobean songs and poems.[14] John Nevin of Ballymoney was a Captain in the United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798.[15] The prominent surgeon William MacCnaimhín, a close friend of Robert Emmet's older brother Thomas, was a chief negotiator with the French during the planning of the 1798 rebellion and assisted in organising the rebellion itself. He was arrested on the eve of the rebellion, along with Thomas Emmet, imprisoned in Scotland and was later exiled.[12][16][17]

With their history and position in Scotland at the time of the Scottish War of Independence, it is likely that they fought in battle for Murray, Wallace and Bruce in Scotland, and indeed in Ireland, against the English.[18]

Notable people with the surname Nevin[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Surname Database - Nevin". 
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward (1985). The Surnames of Ireland (6th ed.). Dublin: Irish Academic Press. p. 235. ISBN 0-7165-2366-3. 
  3. ^ "According to the family genealogy the Nevins are descended from Cnamhin ('cnaim': Irish 'a bone') from whom were derived O'Cnaimhin, anglicized Neving, MacNevin, Bone, Bonass, and Bowen. Cnamhin was No. 102 of the Princess of Oly O'Carroll from Cian, third son of Olioll Olum, King of Munster." Howard, John Tasker (1935). Ethelbert Nevin. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company. p. 6. 
  4. ^ a b "Áine Ní Chnáimhín - 1908-2001". 
  5. ^ Geddes and Grosset Dictionary of Names. ISBN 1-84205-010-9. 
  6. ^ a b c "Homestead - The Nevins". 
  7. ^ a b c O'Donovan, John. The Hy Many. pp. 143–144. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Woulfe, Patrick (1993). Irish Names and Surnames. ISBN 978-0-8063-0381-9. 
  9. ^ "Nevins of the Western Isles". 
  10. ^ "The Ragman Roll of 1296". 
  11. ^ "Execution of Nevin - Elizabeth I 1602". 
  12. ^ a b c O'Donovan, John. The Hy Many p68-69. pp. 68–69. 
  13. ^ "Webclans - Nevins". 
  14. ^ John Niven Jacobite. 
  15. ^ "John Nevin - United Irishmen". 
  16. ^ "The Physician William Nevin and the French and Exile". 
  17. ^ "Physician William Nevin 1798". 
  18. ^ "Gallowglasses under de Brus". Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Brooke Nevin IMDB". 
  20. ^ Molony, Julia (2006-02-19). "Non-fiction writers who stretch their literary legs". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  21. ^ "Duncan Nevin Dunblane". 
  22. ^ "Edwin Nevin". 
  23. ^ "Edwin Henry Nevin - Biography". 
  24. ^ "Bishop JJ Nevin". 
  25. ^ "Fr. Thomas J Nevin".