This ancient Scottish surname of NEVENS was formerly a favourite personal name in Galloway and Ayrshire. The name has numerous variant spellings which include NEVIN, NEVINS, NEVANE, NEVEIN, NEWIN, NEWEIN, NIFIN and NIVING, to name but a few. The earliest of the name on record appears to be NEVINUS, who was the parson of Neveth, and witnessed a grant in 1230. Thomas filius NEUINI, served on an inquest in 1295, and Thomas filius NEUINI was recorded in 1376. A later instance of the name includes Thomas NEVIN who was the king's messenger in 1528 and Hew NEVING was the burgess of Irvine in 1590. From 1759 to 1776 there was a constant flow of emigrants from the Highlands to North America. Between 1763 and 1775 alone, it is estimated that about 20,000 Highlanders left Scotland for the New World. Highland emigrants in their new American homes freely wore the highland dress, and were not forbidden the music of the 'piob-mhor' which was at that period prohibited in the Highlands by Government as a 'weapon of war'. On the outbreak of the American War in 1775, not only were the Highlanders in America loyal to their mother-country, but they raised a regiment in her support (the 84th Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment). At the conclusion of the war, the Highlanders, resisting all offers made to them by the new nation, crossed the border and settled in Canada. A notable member of the name was David NIVEN, originally David Graham NEVINS (1910-83) the English actor, born in London. A graduate of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, he had a variety of jobs before arriving in Hollywood, where he joined the social set let by Errol Flynn and Clark Gable. He worked as an extra in 'Mutiny on the Bounty' (1935). Signed by Samuel Goldwyn, he developed into a polished light-comedian and gallant hero in films such as 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' (1936) and 'The Dawn Patrol' (1938). He published two volumes of lighthearted autobiography 'The Moon's A Balloon' (1972) and 'Bring on the Empty Horses' (1975). In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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