This interesting surname, with variant spellings Irvin(e), Ervin(e), Urvine, Erving etc., is of Scottish territorial origin either from Irving, the name of an old parish in Dumfriesshire, or from Irvine in Strathclyde. Both places are so called from a Celtic river name, probably composed of elements related to the Welsh "ir", "yr", green, fresh, plus "afon", water. The surname first appears on record in the early part of the 13th Century, (see below). Other early recordings include Robert de Iruwyn (Edinburgh circa 1260); Simon de Irwsyn, witness, the 1296, "Assize Court Rolls of Cheshire", John de Herwyne, tenant under the Douglases in the barony of Buittle, 1376, and Gilchrist Herwynd, tenant of the parish of Morton in the same year. Robert the Bruce granted the Forest of Drum to William de Irwyne, Clerk of the Register of 1324, and at a lager date reference was made to "Gude Sir Alexander Irvine, the much renownit Laird of Drum". In some instances the name may derive from the medieval English male given name Irwyn or Erwyn from the old English "Eoforwine", composed of the elements "eofor", wild boar, plus "wine", friend. Washington Irving (1783 - 1859), the American author, was son of William Irving, a native of Shapinsay, Orkney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Hirewine, charter witness, which was dated 1226, "Records of Dumfriesshire", during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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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