Recorded in the spellings of McBeath, McBeith, and McBeth, this is a Scottish surname, also well recorded in Ireland. Indeed in many respects it is 'THE' most famous surname of all, being for ever immortalised by William Shakespeare in his famous play first performed in 1606. However spelt it is a developed form of the pre 10th century Old Gaelic surname 'Mac Beatha' which transates as either 'The son of life', or more likely 'The son of the religious man'. This is rather contradictory given that the first nameholder was the supposedly rapacious Macbeth himself who became King of Scotland in 1040, after he slew KIng Duncan 1st at Bothnagowan, near Elgin. Thereafter known as 'Macbeth the Usurper', his reign was ended equally violently by the King Malcolm lllrd, who defeated him in 1057. However it should be said that his reign was marked by wise government, and it maybe that history has treated him much too harshly. It would seem that he may also have made an early appearance in Ireland as the early records known as the 'Annals of the Four Masters' tell of one Macbeatha who took part in the battle of Clontarf in 1014. Early examples of the surname recording include those of Robert McBeath who was christened at Rathen, Aberdeenshire on January 9th 1709, and that of Alexander MacBeth who was christened at St. Nicholas church, Aberdeen, on September 2nd 1802. Father Patrick Macbeath was the bishop of Ardagh in Ireland in 1509. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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