Irvine Surname Genealogy

surname Irvine is Scottish. Its root is
uncertain. One explanation is that the name came from a
Celtic word irfon, meaning
“green water;” another is that it originated with the word erinviene, meaning “from the west,”
and described men from Ireland who had settled on the west coast of
Scotland around Dumfries. Its first recorded use was in the 12th
when Gilchrist, son of Eruini, witnessed a charter in
There followed: the place-names of Irving in Dumfriesshire
and Irvine in north Ayrshire; and clans of Bonshaw in Dumfriesshire and
of Drum in Aberdeenshire. These Irvines and
may have been related – through
possibly a connection at the
time of Robert the Bruce. But the relationship is not proven.Irvine exists as a surname today, as does Irving, Ervine, Erwin and

Irvine Resources on

Irvine Ancestry

William de Irwyne, a soldier, was granted the Forest of Drum in
Aberdeenshire for his service from Robert the Bruce in 1323. He
is considered the forebear to the Irvine Drum line.

Drum castle was their stronghold. Their early history was mainly
clan feuds. Sir Alexander de Irwine in fact engaged in single
combat with the chief of clan MacLean and, after a legendary struggle,
both died of the wounds inflicted on each other.

There followed a period of stability and prosperity under Alexander Irvine
the Ninth Laird
in the early 1600’s. But these
Irvines were
Royalist against the Covenanters in the Civil War. Drum castle
was looted and sacked no fewer than three times during the
1640’s. They were Jacobite
supporters against the English in 1715 and again in 1745.

the Laird of Drum only escaped capture by hiding in his castle and then
fleeing to France. Alexander Irvine spent some years in exile in
Paris before being allowed to return home to Drum where, it was said,
“he died after a tedious illness, universally loved.”

The other main Irvine branch, the Irvines of Bonshaw, were lairds in

Ireland. There were Scots
Irish Irvines in Ulster, some of whose descendants later
emigrated. The earliest sightings were in Glenoe in county
Antrim. These Irvines in Antrim often intermarried with the
McDowells. They manufactured linen in a linen mill along the
Ballywallog river in Glenoe from 1584 until declining business prompted
their emigration to America in the 1720’s.

Then came Sir Christopher Irvine, a Bonshaw lawyer, was granted lands
in Fermanagh and built himself Castle Irvine. He survived the
Irish uprising of 1641 and from his line came the Irvines of
Enniskillen and Rockfield. Meanwhile a penniless James Irvine left
county Down in the 1840’s for California where he was to make his

America. Early Irvines in
America have been Scots Irish, such as Christopher and David Irvine who
came to Virginia around 1740. Christopher moved onto Georgia and
David later settled in Kentucky.

William Irvine came in the 1760’s from
Fermanagh along with his two brothers and settled in
Pennsylvania. He had been a physician with the British army.; but
during the Revolutionary War he fought on the American side and rose to
be a Brigadier General. Thomas Irvine, also from
Fermanagh, came over in 1797. The
various Irvines in America at this time were covered in Lucinda Boyd’s
1908 book The Irvines and Their Kin.

Later, James
fled Ireland during the potato famine and ended up
in California during the Gold Rush. He subsequently bought into
property and in 1868 built the Irvine ranch in southern California, at
the time one of the largest private ranches in the United States.
The Irvine family became one of the largest landowners in California
and the town of Irvine was named after them.

Australia. John Irvine,
convicted of larceny in Lincoln in 1784, was on the First Fleet to
Australia in 1788. He died only seven years later but his wife
and son lived on.

In 1820 came one of the first free settlers, Captain Francis Irvine of
the Bengal Native Infantry with his family. His son Francis later
emigrated to New Zealand. Charles Irvine, an elderly widower,
came from Fermanagh with three of his children in 1853. William
Irvine then departed county Down later in 1879. He became the
Premier of
Victoria in 1904.

Irvine Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Irvine Names

William de Irwyne, who was granted lands in Drum in 1323, is
considered the forebear of the
Irvine clan.
was the immigrant from Ireland who established a real
estate empire in California.
Robert Irvine, born in England,
is an American celebrity chef.

Select Irvines Today

  • 16,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Fermanagh)
  • 3,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 15,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)





Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply