Recorded over the centuries in many forms, but now usually found in the modern spellings of Ervine, Irvine or Irving, this famous surname, whilst generally considered in the 20th century to be Scottish, can confusingly, be of Olde English, Scottish, or Irish origins, with all sources being quite different. In Scotland itself the surname is usually of locational origins from either: "The lands of Irvine" in Strathclyde, or the town of Irving in Dumfriesshire. These place names are themselves a development of the Celtic "Ir" meaning green or fresh, and "afon" - water. However wherever found, the surname can also be a developed form of the Olde English pre 7th century given name "Irwyn", originally composed of the elements "eofor", meaning "wild boar", and "wine", a friend. The third possible origin is Irish, and an anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic O' hEireamhoin, translating as the descendant of Eireamhon, the latter being a personal name of uncertain etymology. Alternative forms of the modern surname can be found as Irvin, Ervin, Urvine, Erving, Irwin, Irwine and Irwing. Among the many early recordings are those of Simon de Irwyn of Cheshire, England, in 1296, Sir Alexander Irvine of Scotland, who fell at the battle of Harlaw in 1411, and Thomas Erwyn of Yorkshire, in the Friary Rolls of 1459. Later recordings include Thomas Irvine, christened on November 4th 1687 at St. Nicholas church, Aberdeen, and Washington Irving (1783 - 1859), the American author, whose father was born at Shapinsay, Orkney, in about 1759. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Hirewyn, which was dated 1226, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. This was during the reign of King Alexander 11nd. of Scotland, 1214 - 1249.
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