This famous Scottish surname, recorded in several spelling forms including MacTavish, McTavish, and McTawish, is a patronymic. It originates from the Gaelic Mac Tamhais, translating as "The son of Thomas", a development of "Thomas", a biblical name introduced into Europe by the returning 12th century Crusaders and pilgrims to Greece and the Holy Land. The Clan MacTavish is believed to be most numerous in the county of Argyllshire, and it is from this region that most early recordings are to be found. Almost all Gaelic surnames are associated with the first chief of the clan, and in this case it is said that the Clan Tavish descend from one Tavis Corr, the second natural son of Callen moir Math, otherwise known as "Good Colin, the bald". The surname is one of the earliest recorded in Scotland, and examples of these recordings taken from the authentic rolls and charters of the period, include Donald McTawish of Kernach, Strogartnay, in 1480, and Donald duin Mc Tawys, a charter holder, in 1488. Thomas McTaevis was recorded in Kernach in 1515, where he also held lands, and Alexander M'Ktaus, was the constable of Ellanwirrich, in 1589. The first known recording of the surname is probably that of Malcolm M'Thamais, a land charter witness at Glasse, Argyllshire in the year 1355. This was during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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