Niven, Meaning and History

The name Niven may not seem like a popular name for boys, but it is actually derived from a powerful Scottish family. The meaning of Niven is “little saint” and can take on many forms, such as Nevin, Navin, Newin, Nifen, and Nevison.

The name first appeared in Ayrshire which used to be a country in southern Scotland. The Scottish Niven family has been traced back to very ancient times, even before the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Niven family is believed to have moved from Scotland to Ireland and later to the Americas.


There was only one person called Niven in Scotland in 2014.

Famous People with the Name

Alexander and William Niven arrived in New Jersey in 1685. A different William Niven settled in New Jersey in 1686, while others from the Niven family moved to New York and California in the 19th Century. Besides the United States and Canada the Nivens also spread to Australia and New Zealand during the 19th Century.

Famous people who have descended from the Niven family include William R. Niven, Pearl L. Niven, Laurence van Cott Niven, and many others. David Niven, John Niven, and Derek.

Niven also share the surname and could be from the same family. The Niven family has a distinctive crest and coat of arms. Their motto is Vivis Sperandum, which means “Where there is life there is hope”.

Useful Resources

Discover the meaning and popularity of other Scottish names.

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