Recorded as MacGiven, MacGiveen, McGiven, the dialectal McGivena found only in penny numbers, variants such as McGivan, McEvon, McKevin and McAvin, and sometimes without a prefix as in Given, Giveen, Givens, Kevin and others. In spite of the large number of spellings, this is quite a rare Gaelic Irish surname. Originally it was mainly recorded in the county of Donegal, and derives from the ancient pre 10th century surname Mag Dhuibhfhinn. This has the unusual and contradictory translation of the male descendant (Mag) of the dark and fair chief! The translation of Irish surnames does sometimes suggest that more than one person may have been involved in the original creation of the surname perhaps a thousand or more years ago, but never quite so extraordinary as this one.The presence of the word "fhinn or fionn" would suggest an association with the fair haired and fair skinned Norse-Vikings who controlled much of Ireland in the 10th century, and it is possible that the Mag Dhuibhfhinn were a tribe who contained both Vikings and native Irish, the latter being dark complexioned. The first recording was probably 13th century, but unfortunately almost all early Irish recordings were lost in 1922 when the IRA destroyed the Dublin Public Records Office. What we have includes James Mc Given of Cunningburn, County Down, on December 24th 1785, and in Newcastle of Tyne, England, that of George Andrew McGivena, born there on March 1st 1883.
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