This surname MACBETH was common in Scotland in early times from the 11th to the 14th century. In old Gaelic it was spelt MACC BETHAD, and means 'son of life' a name for a religious person or meaning 'one of the elect' a man of the cloth. In modern Gaelic the name is spelt as Macbeatha. A twelth-century variant, Malbeth is found in record. Macbeth (1005-1057) mormaer of Moray, became king of Scots after having murdered King Duncan I at Bothnagowan near Elgin on 14th August 1040. "The use he made of his acquired power so far as authentic records show, was generally for the good of his country; while his character, far from being irresolute, was marked by vigour and ability. He was a friend of the poor, the protector of the monks and the first Scottish king whose name appears in ecclesiastical record as the benefactor of the Church" (A short history of the Scottish Highlands, Mackenzie, published in 1906). Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker. Other records of the name mention John McBehaig and Duncan N'Behaig, who were servants to John Campbell, prior of Ardchattan in 1622. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Granted in Scotland in 1678. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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