This interesting surname is of Gaelic (Scottish) origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "MacGairbhith", composed of the elements "Mac", son of, and the personal name "Garbhith", from "garbh", rough, cruel, and a second element of unknown origin, which has been associated with "bith", fate, (ill)fortune. Traditionally, Gaelic family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or from some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O", grandson, male descendant, or "M(a)c", denoting "son of". The surname is also found in the north of Ireland in the form "Garvey". The most prominent family of Garvey in County Mayo is that of Murrisk Abbey. John Garvey (1527 - 1595), who was one of the most notable Protestant Archbishops of Armagh, though born in County Kilkenny, was eldest son of John O'Garvey of Murrisk. Janet Garvie is in Haunchhead of Guthrie in 1613. Recordings of the surname from Edinburgh Parish Church Registers, Midlothian, include: the marriage of David Garvie and Margaret Kerr on December 20th 1633; the marriage of Issobell Garvie and Johne Donaldsone on July 12th 1650; and the marriage of Hectour Garvie and Margaret Maxwell on April 16th 1668. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts three silver garvie fish (a species of sprat) on a blue shield, the Crest being a hand holding a fish proper, the Motto reads as "Always helping". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Garwy, which was dated 1512, in the "Rentale Dunkeldense", accounts of the bishopric Edinburgh, during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 - 1513. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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