Gaelic "Macc bethad" and literally signifies "son of life".
surname McBETH is a personal name which has been used as a surname.
The name was common in Scotland between the 11th and 14th centuries.
The personal name is derived from
following are quotes fromThe Surnames of Scotland:Their Origin,
Meaning, and HistoryBy George F. Black, Ph.D.New York, New York
Public Library; 1946 :
Beathen in Meikleglen, 1685 (Kirkcudbright).
learned families named MacBeath and Beaton or Bethune practised
medicine in the Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Their names in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries became merged
in English in the one surname of Beaton. The MacBeths practised in
Islay and Mull, and the Beatons in Skye. The first of the Islay
family on record is Fercos Macbetha, who witnessed and probably wrote
the Gaelic charter of 1408. The family for the next two centuries
were official physicians to the Chiefs of MacDonald, from whom they
held lands. Gilchristus M'Veig, surrigicus or surgeon in Islay is in
record. Fergus M'Baithe in 1609 received from James VI certain lands
in Islay in his official capacity as "principalis medici intra
bordas Insularum" - Chief physician within the bounds of the
Isles. His son, John Macbeath, succedesin 1628 to the lands, but gave
them over to the Thane of Cawdor in following year. The words
"Leabar Giolla Colaim Meigbethadh" (book of Malcolm
MacBeath)are written on one of the Gaelic manuscripts in the National
Library of Scotland, glossed in the same hand "Liber Malcolmi
Betune" (Mackinnon, Catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts, 1912, p. 6,
7). The Mull Beatons or Betons were hereditary physicians to the
MacLeans of Dowart. In 1572 Hector MacLaine of Dowart granted a
charter to Andrew MacDonil Vikinollif(i.e. son of the doctor) and his
heirs of the pennyland of Piencross [Pennycross] and Brolas for his
skill in the medical art. Martin (p.254) says that Dr. Beaton was
sitting on the upper deck of the "Florida" of the Spanish
Armada when it blew up in Tobermory Bay in 1588 and he was thrown a
good way off, but lived several years after. Anotherof the Mull
family was Fergus M'Veagh in Pennycross whose medical ms. is now in
the library of Edinburgh University. A branch of this family early
settled in the Fraser country, and in 1589 it is recorded that they
had possesed a davach in Glenconvinth "time out of mind."
In 1558, one of them, James Betoun, attended Lord Lovat. He was known
"as Tolly-Mullach - An t-Ollamh Muileach, the Mull doctor -
showing that he was of the noted physicians of that island. The race
declined in the Aird, and before the end of the sixteenth century one
of them, John M'Klich - John son of the Doctor who kept Lord Lovat's
flocks, got into trouble by helping himself to his master's muttons,
and was saved from punishment by his wit and skill in archery. By
1622 they probably ceased to practise the healing art" (warlaw,
intro., p. xxxvii-xxxviii). The Beatons of Skye "were real
Beatons or Bethunes from fife, descended from the Lairds of Balfour.
A grandson of the fifth Laird, Dr. Peter Bethune, settled in Skye
about the middle of the sixteenth century. His descendants were
numerous, and intermarried with the best families in Skye and the
Isles. They are still strong in Skye. The Gaelic of the name if
Peutan or Beutan" (Macbain, Celt. Mon., xvii, p.208). The last
of these heriditary physicians came to an end in 1763 in the person
of Neil Beaton (Clan Donald, iii, p. 128). Bittoune 1675.
Current forms of MACBETH, q.v. Gillemechell M'Bathe held a tenement
in Dornoch, 1504 (OPS., II, p. 639). Robert Mackbayth in the parish
of Nesting, Shetland, 1576 (Oppressions, p. 21). John M'Beath, heir
of Fergus M'Beath of Ballinab, 1628 (Retours, Argyll 33). M'Baith 1663.
form of MACBETH in Wester Ross. G. MacBheahaig. John McBehaig and
Duncane M'Behaig were servants to John Campbell, prior of Ardchattan,
1622(RPC., XII, p. 665). It also occurs in Ross as M'Pheathaig, and
is spelled in the Fernaig MS. (1688) M'Pehaig (Rel. Celt., II, p. 90).
personal name like MACRAE, not a patronymic. It was common in
Scotland in early times from the eleventh to the fourteenth century.
In old Gaelic it was spelled Maccbeththad, and means 'son of life,'
'a religious person,' 'man of religion,' or 'one of the elect.' In
modern Gaelic the name would be spelled Macbeatha. A twelfth-century
variant, Malbeth, is found in record as Malbet, Melbeth, Malbeod,
Melbec (with t misread as c), Malbij, Melbe and Malbeht. Macbeth
(1005-1057), mormaer of Moray, became King of Scots after having
murdered King Duncan I at Bothnagowan near Elgin, 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 the 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" (MacKenzie, A short
history of the Scottish Highlands and Isles, 1906, p. 39).
Macbethson was bailie of Forfar, 1361 (ER., II, p. 62). Donald
MacBeithson and John McBeithsoun took part in the slaughter of
William Suthirland of Duffus, 1531.
MacBheatais or MacBeathaig in the middle of the seventeenth century
was hereditary bard of the Macdonalds of Sleat. He is mentioned in
Maccodrum's 'Dimoladh piob Dhomhnuill Bhain' (Poems and songs,
Glasgow, 1894, p. 53). Forbes says a family named MacBheattrais,
MacBheatrais, or MacBeathaig were bards in Skye (Placenames of Skye,
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