'Of all of the families springing from Dumfries the McBRAYERS have the longest and most honourable connection, having been virtually hereditary provosts of the burgh for nigh 150 years'. The name is also spelt MacBRAIR, MacBRAIRE, MacBRIAR, MACKBRAYERE, MAKBRIAR and M'BRAIER, to name but a few. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Andrew McBRIAR, who was the baillie of Dumfries in 1384, and Herbert M'BRARE was documented in 1491. Nicholaus McBRAER was an alderman of Dumfries in 1503. Surnames can be divided into four categories; place names, occupation names, nicknames and patronymics. PLACE NAMES are the largest group and covers all those names first applied to people who lived in or nearby to a particular place. For example, Grove, Wood, Field, Meadow, and Street are obvious. Occasionally names were taken from obscure villages or hamlets which no longer exist and this can make research confusing. OCCUPATION NAMES cover nearly all trades which existed in the Middle Ages. These are numerous. It does not necessarily follow that such names as King, Duke, Earl and so on mean your ancestors were of noble blood. It is much more likely that such named people worked for the person referred to. NICKNAMES. This is a smaller group but in many ways more interesting. They usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. For instance the name Black would denote a dark man, Little, someone small (or even somewhat ambiguously) someone tall. PATRONYMICS. This group covers all names which derive immediately from the owner's father. Many christian names which are also surnames have, over the years, lost the possessive form but the origin is still the same. Examples of this could be names such as Peter,Thomas, Henry - all names which became both christian and surnames over the years. Later instances of the name include Sir John McBRARE, a chaplain, who was murdered in 1502 and John M'BRAIR was a canon in Glenluce in 1548.
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