The surname of NAVIN was derived from the Gaelic Mac Cnaimhin, and they are a sept of the 'Ui Maine' notable both as poets and physicians. The name, usually as NEVIN without the Mac is found in all the provinces and the name is also spelt MacNEVIN, KNAVIN, KNEVIN, and MacKNAVIN. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the fathers Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Early records of the name mention NEVINUS, who was recorded in 1230 in Ireland, and Thomas filius NEVINI was documented in 1295. Hugh Mac KNAVIN, Chief of the name was hanged in 1602 for his participation in the resistance to Elizabethan aggression. The most celebrated of physicians was William James MacNEVIN (1763-1841); his uncle Baron MacNEVIN (circa. 1723-1790), emigrated to Austria, was physician to the Empress Maria Theresa. In the 19th century Thomas MacNEVIN (1814-1848) was a distinguished member of the Young Ireland party. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
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