The surname MacVICAR was a name from Argyllshire, derived from the Gaelic M'Bhiocair or Mac a Bhiocair, meaning ' the son of the vicar'. The name was taken early to Ireland by settlers and there was a branch of the MacMahons so called. The name is rare outside Ulster. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles.Early records of the name mention James Makuecar who was burgess of Glasgow in 1488. Sir Niall McVicar was the rector of Lochlawe in the year 1555. Duncan McVicar was ordered to be transported to New England in 1685. The McVicars appear first as a small Clan of the MacNaughtons, and after the dispersal of the Clan they appear to have followed the Campbells of Argyll. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that 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.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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