This is an anglicized form of the Old Gaelic personal name MacBeatha translating as 'the son of (mac) life (beatha)' or 'a man of religion'. The most famous namebearer was Macbeth (1005 - 1057) who became King of Scotland in 1040 after he slew Duncan. Known as Macbeth, the Usurper, his reign was ended by Malcolm III, Canmore, who defeated him in 1057. The personal name is also recorded in Ireland as early as 1014. The 'Annals of the Four Masters' tell of one, Macbeatha who took part in the Battle of Clontarf. The surname adopted from this source is first recorded in Ulster towards the middle of the 16th Century, (see below). On January 9th 1709 one, Robert McBeath was christened in Rathen, Aberdeenshire and on August 2nd 1802 one Alexander MacBeth was christened in St. Nicholas, Aberdeenshire. In the modern idiom the name is spelt M(a)cBeth with variant forms Macbey and Macveigh. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Father Patrick Macabeath, which was dated 1541 - Bishop of Ardagh, during the reign of King Henry VIII, 'Good King Hal', 1509 - 1547. 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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