Recorded as Beg, Begg, a bewildering range of diminutives inclding Beggan, Beagin, Begin, Began, Beggan, Beggin, Biggan, Bigane, and the patronymic Beggs and Beggson, this unusual name is Scottish and Northern Irish. It is, or rather was a nickname or byname. Derived from the pre 10th century Gaelic word "beag" meaning "little", it was either a baptismal name of endearment for a small child, or later a medieval nickname for a small (or given the robust humour of the period, large), person. The surname is one of the earliest recorded in Scotland with examples which include Malise Beg, recorded as a burgess of Stirling before 1300 and John Beg, one of the builders employed in the construction of Cardross Castle in 1329. In Ireland the name was well recorded from as early as 1645 but many of these early records and registers were lost in 1922, when the IRA destroyed the Public Records Office in Dublin during the Civil War of 1922 - 1926. Surviving examples of the recordings include those of James Biggan of Drumachose, County Londonderry, on October 25th 1730, John Bigane of Castletown, County Limerick, on July 20th 1864, John Beaggin of Dawsongrove, County Monaghan, on March 24th 1869, and Patrick Beggan of Drum, also County Monaghan, on October 23rd also, 1869. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malcolm Begge, the Seneschal of the earl of Levenax. This was dated 1225, in the records of Levenax, during the reign of King Alexander 11nd of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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