McNeur Family Home
Home      About us
The changing McNeur surname

Surname Spelling

It is worth considering surnames as recorded in Scotland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The English language was still evolving at that time and as quite a proportion of the population could not read or write, spoken language was much more important than written. As long as a word conveyed the sound, spelling did not much matter.

When a birth or death was reported, it was vocal and the recording clerk used whatever spelling he wished. Some clerks with a classical education even gave the name a Latin form. In some parishes it was obvious when a new clerk took over due to the sudden change in spelling of a particular name. Sometimes the record for an infant was the birth and sometimes the christening which may be days or weeks, or even, in the case of a remote household, years after the actual birth. Deaths were not normally recorded.

In Scotland the wife normally retained her maiden name throughout life which makes it easier to trace a particular couple. For example, when Archibald McNuier and Sarah McArthur moved from Inveraray to Port Glasgow about 1790, the birth of their next child was recorded thus in the Port Glasgow Parish record of 24 July 1791: "Archibald Weir, Taylor, in Port Glasgow and Sarah McArthur his spouse had a lawful daughter born 24th and baptised 31st instant called Janet".

This entry was initially missed and could only be recognised by the mother's maiden name. Weir was sometimes an anglicised version of both McNair and McNeur.

To further complicate the issue, a child may, on occasion, be known by the mother's surname rather than the father's and in this case it could be McArthur instead of McNeur.

The full "MacNeur" was less frequently used. It must have been shortly after 1800 that names were written by the informant and the spelling of names fixed.

Some McNeur name spellings in the Parish record as extracted from I.G.I. (1988)

(those in itialics are various recorded spellings of our family)

  • MacKnure , McKnure, McKnuyer.
  • MacNuair, MacNuar, MacNuear, MacNuier, MacNuir, MacNuire, MacNujar. McAnure.
  • McInnouier, McInnuer, McInnuiar, McInnuier, McInnure, McInnuyar, McInour, McInuiar, McInuier, McInuir, McInuire, McInure, McInuyar,McInuyer, McInur, McInwiar, McInwier, McInwoir, McInwre, McInwyr.
  • McNeuar, McNeuir, McNeur, McNewar, McNewer, McNewiar, McNewr.
  • McNieur, McNiewr.
  • McNoier, McNoire, McNourier, McNourure, McNouweir, McNowier.
  • McNuair, McNuaire, McNuar, McNuare, McNuer, McNuere, McNuerer, McNuior, McNuiare, McNuier, McNuiere, McNuior, McNuir, McNuire, McNur, McNure, McNurie, McNuwr, McNuyar, McNuyer, McNutir.McNwer, McNwir.

Females may be called Nic instead of Mac, eg. NcInnuyer. NcNewiar, NcNuiar, NcNuier, NcNuyar, NcNuyer, NcNuyr.

The most popular spellings in Argyll were McNuier and McNuire. There were a great many McNuiers in early Inverary, and impossible to make connections between them to our family. McNeur family members were recorded on occasion as McNair or it's anglicised version, Weir.

McNeur Country, Scotland. Inverary, Port Glasgow, Greenock