This notable surname is of medieval Scottish origin, and derives from the Gaelic personal name "MacBheatha" (Old Gaelic "Macc bethad"), translating literally as "the son of life", and implying "a man of religion" or "one of the elect". The most famous bearer of the name was Macbeth (1005 -1057), who became King of Scotland after he slew King Duncan 1 at Bothnagowan near Elgin on August 14th 1040. A quotation from Mackenzie's "A Short History of the Scottish Highlands and Isles" reads, "He (Macbeth) was the friend of the poor ...and the first Scottish king whose name appears in ecclesiastical record as the benefactor of the Church". The Irish Annals of the Four Masters tell of one, Macbetha, who took part in the Battle of Clontarf (1014). In 1507, one Farquhar M'Vay of Balnakok was recorded in Easter Ross, and a Fergus M'Veagh, an inhabitant of Pennycross in Mull, was formerly the possessor of a Gaelic medieval manuscript now in the library of Edinburgh University. A family of the name were hereditary physicians of Islay and Mull, and Shanachies (story-tellers) to the MacLeans. The name MacVey is very numerous today in north-east Ulster, and in the 17th Century was recorded as MacVagh, MacVaugh, MacEvagh and occasionally MacBey. On May 20th 1872, Agnes MacVey and Samuel Kane were married in Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Macvay, which was dated 1504, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", 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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