Ulster AncestryUlster Ancestry

A Sample of Irish Family Names


This well-known English name is in Ireland since the fourteenth century and is now quite numerous in Dublin.  It is usually of the nickname type.  In Irish the form Aboíd is used.  Woulfe states that Abbott (a common Anglo-Irish surname) is a derivative of Abraham;  but Reaney gives it its obvious meaning, adding that such surnames often originated as nicknames.


Origins in Ulster :  Irish and Plantation Scottish

The name Adam, Hebrew for “red” was very popular in medieval England.

In Scotland were it was also popular it was used as a “pet” name for Aidy and Eadie.

The Aidys and Eadies are part of the clan Gordon.although MacAdams were related to other clans. All this makes the origins of the Tyrone Adams’ obscure as there are also a number of “Irish “ Adams families found in Fermanagh.

In Scotland the name is found almost exclusively as Adam. Colonel James Adam

from Lanarkshire was a Planter who added the “s” in his lifetime.

This “ Adams” family were early settlers in Cavan.

AIKEN (also Aitken, Eakin, Eakins)

In Ireland common only in Ulster, Aiken is of Scottish origin.  It is the Scottish form of the English name Atkin, which comes from Adkin, a pet form of Adam.  The name was very common in the parish of Ballantrae in Ayrshire and many of our Aikens may stem from there.  There are many variant spellings.  It was recorded as being used interchangeably with Eakins in Belfast, Ekin in counties Derry and Donegal, Ekin in Co. Donegal and Egan in Co. Down.  Some of the Irish sept of O'Hagan (see O'Hagan) may have further anglicised their name to Aiken.

In Co. Antrim, where it is most popular, it was found to be most concentrated in the area northwest of Ballymena in the mid-nineteenth century.

Dr. Joseph Aiken published a contemporary account of the Siege of Derry in verse entitled Londerias, or, a narrative of the siege of Londonderry (1699).


Origins in Ulster: Plantation Scottish

The surname derives from the old English personal name Arcebald, Arcenbald or even Ercenbald meaning either “right bold” or “holy prince”

The first of the name in Scotland was Archebaldus filius Swani de Forgrunde in the reign of William the Lion.

George Frazer Black states and he is probably correct that Archibald was adopted by the Scots as a Lowland eqivilant of Gillespie because they mistakenly assumed that _bald refered to hairless or clean shaven and therefore to the Gaelic “Gille” meaning a servant or monk

The Ulster Archibalds are thought to have originated in Dumfries.


This Co. Antrim and Co. Down name is Scottish in origin and can derive from the Gaelic word bard, a 'bard' or 'poet'.  The Scottish name MacWard, Gaelic Mac a'Bhaird, meaning 'son of the bard', was also largely anglicised to Baird.  However, the earliest record of it as a surname is the de Bard family of Lanarkshire in the thirteenth century.  De Bard also appears in the following century in Aberdeenshire and the Lothians.  In this case the name is territorial in origin, many of the Scottish Bairds descending from Normans who came to Scotland in the train of William the Lion in the twelfth century.  These in turn had descended from le seigneur de Barde who came to England with William the Conqueror.

Baird is an old and popular name in Ayrshire, whence stemmed so many of the Plantation settlers.  In the mid-nineteenth century it was found to be particularly popular on the Upper Ards around Portaferry, Co. Down.


This Co. Antrim name is of Scottish origin.  The MacBaxters, Gaelic Mac an Bhacstair, 'son of the baker', were a branch of the Clan Macmillan.  The name derives from the Old English word bœcestre, meaning a 'female baker', and was common in Angus.  Forfar in Angus was a royal residence and it may be that the first Baxters were bakers to the king.  The MacBaxters were also noted on the Highland Border and in the Isles.  Baxter came first to Ulster during the Plantation.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

A common name in Tyrone, this family were from the Scottish Borders known for centuries as the “Bellis” of Annandale Dumfriesshire. A very unruly Clan they were broken and scattered by James VI in the decade after 1603

Many members of this Clan made there way to Ulster. Some didn’t make it the whole way and resettled on the island of Islay in the Western Isles where they can still be found in numbers.


Origins in Ulster: Scottish Planter

Another form of Bennett “son of Benjamin” Patrick Benson was member of Parliament for Perth in 1560. The name as either Benson or Bennet (one t)

was very popular in 17th century Edinburgh.


In Ireland very few of Blairs live outside Ulster where over half are from Co. Antrim and most of the remainder from counties Derry and Tyrone.  It is a Scottish name, common here since the Plantation.  It is territorial in origin taken from any one of a number of places in Scotland so named.  The placename itself derives from the Gaelic blar, meaning 'plain', 'field' or 'battlefield'.


Origins in Ulster Plantation Scottish

Blackburn is from one or several places so named in Scotland’s Lowlands including Berwickshire, Sterlingshire, and Edinburgh. As a name in Ulster many Blackburns claim the Sterlingshire decent.


Origins in Ulster :Early Plantation c 1615

The Boyds decend from Robert Stewart one of two Norman brothers who founded the Royal Stuart dynasty in Scotland. Robert was known as Robert “buidhe” (Fair haired Robert)  ie Robert Boyd.

Related to the Montgomerys they arrived in Ulster from Kilmarnock when Sir Thomas Boyd of Bedlay was granted 1500 acres of Seein in the Barony of Strabane Co Tyrone.


This name, Ó Branghaile in Irish (branghal, raven valour), is peculiar to east Galway.  It is not numerous.  The cognate Ó Branghail appears to be obsolete now;  it occurs as O'Branyll in a late sixteenth century Fiant relating to Co. Cavan.


Origins :not known.

May be a corruption of the name Breamage from the old English

“Famous “or Noble” This name was known in the home counties of England in the middle ages.


Origins in Ulster :Plantation English

Bunnon is not a name found in its own right and is most likely a form of Bunnion.

Sometimes spelt as Bunan Bunyan or Bunion.

John Bunyan was baptised in 1628 as the son of John Bunnion.

Its origins in Old English refer to a “bunion” or a lump of dough from which it became the nickname for a pastry cook or baker.

The name was known in Bedfordshire.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

The name was originally spelt Ap’Corsan and this family were very prominent in Kilcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire where Cosans were provosts for several generations.

The Carsons arrived in Ulster circa 1625 during the Plantation and can be found in numbers in the 1660’s Hearth Money Rolls. Especially common in Fermanagh.


This Donegal name is from MacColl, Gaelic Mac Colla, the name of a galloglass family introduced there from Argyllshire in the sicteenth century.  Colla was a Gaelic personal name and Colla Uais, a semi-legendary Irish king of the fourth century, is claimed as the great ancestor of the MacDonalds.  The MacCalls or MacColls, long settled in Argyllshire, were of the race of Clan Donald but in practice followed the Stewarts of Appin.  Although of no connection with the Ulster MacCalls or MacCauls, there has been some intermingling of the two names (see MacCall).


This name, which for the past two centuries has been found in south Down and the north Louth area, appears near there as early as 1428 when Thomas Curragh a farmer, of Kilpatrick, was mentioned in a case recorded in Archbishop Swayne's register.  In the next century we find it mentioned occasionally in or near Dublin, e.g. in 1561, Richard Curragh, farmer, of Raheny, and, in 1589, another Richard Curragh a member of the Merchant Tailor's Guild who was made a freeman of Dublin city.

I have not ascertained the correct derivation of the name;  it may be a toponymic from one of the many places in Ireland called Curragh; the rare Irish word curach, meaning champion or hero, has also been suggested as a possible alternative; or it may be an Irish form of MacCurrach, which is a sept of the Scottish clan MacPherson.


This name is common in all the provinces of Ireland but especially Ulster, particularly Co. Donegal.  Little is known about the origins of the name.

Generally, it is an anglicisation of Ó Corráin, the name of what are thought to be three unrelated septs in Waterford and Tipperary, Galway and Leitrim, and Kerry.  In Donegal, where the name is most common, it is from Ó Corraidhín, giving Curran, Curren and Curreen.

In Scotland the name has been recorded in Ayrshire and Wigtownshire, where it is of Irish origin.


The English surname Dane (which is not derived from Denmark but from an old English word meaning a valley) has inevitably been confused with Dean (q.v.).  In Ireland, however, Dane is primarily the name of a Connacht sept Ó Déaghain.  In the "census" of 1659 it appears as one of the principal Irish names in Co. Roscommon; and two centuries later we find it largely concentrated around Belmullet in the adjoining county of Mayo.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation Scottish

The name in Ulster stems almost entirely from the Clan Davidson

From the Hebrew “Dawidh” meaning “beloved one” (David) we get simply “son of David” while Davison means “son of Davy” The Clan Davidson decend from David Dhu fourth son of Muiriach of Kingussie chief of Clan Chattan. The Davidsons were part of the great Clan Chattan federation and as a part of this fought as the Clan Kay against the McPhersons at the celebrated battle of North Inch at Perth in 1396

Of the thirty warriors from each side selected to fight in single combat only one Davidson survived by climbing the enclosure and swimming the River Tay. The Davidsons and McPhersons remained at feud thereafter.

The main families were of Cantray in Inverness-shire and of Tullock in Perthshire.

Some Donegal McDaids (the sept of Max Daibheid) kinsmen to the Dohertys anglicised to Davison in that County and also in Tyrone and Derry.


This name is Gaelic is Ó Daimhín and the ancestor who gave the sept its name was Daimhín, died 966, the son of Cairbre Dam Argait, King of Oriel.  A brother of Daimhín called Cormac was ancestor of the Maguires and the O'Devines, Lords of Tirkennedy.  It was a leading Co. Fermanagh sept up until and including the fifteenth century.  Later, the power of the leading family was broken by pressure from the O'Neills in the north and the Maguires in the south.  However, the name is still known in Fermanagh, although more common in counties Tyrone and Derry.  The name stems from the word damh, meaning 'ox', and not from dámh, meaning 'poet'.  The sept gave Clogher in Co. Tyrone its original name, Clochar Mac nDaimhín.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

Scottish family name also found as Dixon in England. Common along the Scottish borders . The Dicksons in Ulster derive from the familes who were to be found north of Berwick in the East March. Displaced by James VI during the “pacification” of the borders post 1603 and fled to Fermanagh .

Other Dicksons made their way to Down and Antrim.


This is an anglicisation of MacDonald that  has been in use in Scotland, particularly Edinburgh, from the fourteenth century.  In Ulster it is most common in Co. Antrim and to a lesser extent Co. Armagh.

Fairly early on the clan name of the great MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, began to be spelt in a variety of ways, including Donaldson, Donillson and Donnelson, forms recorded in old charters of the MacDonnells of Antrim (from whom the present Earl of Antrim descends).  In the 'census' of 1659 Donnellson appears as a 'principal name' in Co. Antrim (see Connell, MacDonald and MacDonnell).

Around 1900 Donaldson was being used interchangeably with Donnelly (see Donnelly) in parts of the Coleraine district of Co. Derry.


This English name is numerous only in Dublin and Uister, where it is particularly common in Co. Antrim.  The Hebrew name Elijah was made in Greek Elias and this personal name was very popular in medieval England.  It became in Old English Elys or Elis and this came to be the basis of the surname Ellis.  It is fairly common in both Scotland and Ireland from about the thirteenth century onwards but most in Ulster arrived in the post-Plantation period.


Origins in Ulster:  Plantation

Ellison “ son of Ellis”  are a family from Berwickshire. And were certainly living in that place as early as 1296. Other Ellisons may be Ellistons from the lands of Elliston near Bowden in Roxburghshire  This name is sometimes also found as Allison especially in Donegal.


Ewing is quite a numerous surname in Ireland; in 1866 there were 27 births registered for it. Including a few for the synonyms Ewings and Ewin, while in 1890 the number was 24, in both cases almost entirely in Ulster.  In that province it has since the seventeenth century been especially associated with the counties of Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Antrim.  Many Ewing wills are recorded for the dioceses comprising these northern areas.  The "census" of 1659 is one of the earliest Irish documents to include the name - in it Alexander Ewing appears as one of the leading inhabitants of Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.  A few years later it appears frequently in the Hearth Money Rolls for that county.  It is probable that Dublin Ewings, such as the notable printing and publishing family of the mid-eighteenth century, came to the capital from the north.

The origin of the name is interesting.  According to Reaney it goes back to the Greek eugenes (well-born), cognate with the Gaelic Irish eoghan.  Mac GiollaDomhnaigh, too, states that Ewing, also found as MacEwing, is a form of the well known Scottish name MacEwen, gaelice Mac Eoghain, i.e. our Irish MacKeown.


Origins in Ulster : probably English Cromwellian.

Although there is confusion between the Farleys of Blackwatertown and the Irish Farrelly family ,a Breffny family whose territory was in the barony of Loughter in County Cavan ,it seems these Blackwater “Farleys “were in fact Fairleys a family of English adventurers who had arrived in Ireland with Cromwell.

Just where these Fairleys came from in England is difficult to say.


Ferry, also spelt Fairy, is found almost exclusively in Co. Donegal, and is an anglicisation of the old Cenél Conaill sept name Ó Fearadhaigh.  This probably derives from the personal name Fearadhach, meaning 'manly'.  The name is also well known in Co. Sligo and other parts of Connacht.  The O'Ferrys were followers of the MacSweeneys.  The name has occasionally been confused with Ferris (see Ferris).


Woulfe makes this name Ó Fionnmhacháin and says it is a rare Munster name of which he can find no early form.  It is found chiefly in Co. Clare, where the form Kinucane is recorded as having been used synonymously with Finucane.  This suggests that it is a Mac not an O name viz. Mac Fionnmhacháin or Mac Fhionnmhacháin.


Origins in Ulster :Scottish Plantation

From the trade “fletcher” the man who fitted the fights to arrows, though not an old Scottish family they did appear in early Scottish records in Roxburgh as early as 1338.

They can be found in various muster rolls (1631) and would appear to be from Ayr and Ayrshire.


Origins : Early anglo Irish or post plantation

The name in Ireland is common in Galway Cork Mayo and Dublin but less so in Ulster. In England and Scotland the name sprang up in many places independently as it denoted “one who lived by a ford or river crossing”

Englishmen of the name began appearing in Ireland from the 14th century and one Forde family of Devonshire managed to become substantial landlords in Meath.

Some in Tyrone may decend from such families or from later post plantation families.

Forde has been widely used in the anglicisation of several native Irish families

including Mac Giolla na Naomh which in Tyrone became Ford, Agnew, Gildernew and even Macaneave


Origins in Ulster: Scottish Plantation

The Geddes were an old Scottish family of territorial origin from the lands of Geddes in Nairnshire. The family of Geddes of Rachan Pebblesshire were an official offshoot of this family. The Geddes produced many churchmen and scholars some very noteworthy..

William Geddes ,son and heir of Charles Geddes, was murdered by the Tweedies

in 1558 and thus began a long and bitter feud between the two families.

On 29th December 1592 James Geddes “of Glenhigton” also fell victim to the treachery of the Tweedies in Edinburgh.

By 1620  many of the Geddes had joined the exodus to Ulster.


Origins in Ulster : Plantation

Scottish, from the personal name Gilbert. From this Gibb then Gibson (son of Gibb)

Found in numbers in and around Menteith in Perthshire.

These families can sometimes also be found as McGibbon or McKibbon.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

A Scottish family better known as “Gillies” from “Servant of Jesus”

Common in the Hebrides and at one time very numerous in Badenoch.


Origins in Ulster: Scottish Planter

Another of the “Gille” names. From Gillacrist “Servant of Christ”

The beautiful St Martin’s Cross on Iona was the work of a Gilchrist sculptor.

It bears the insciption in Irish Gaelic “Oriot do Gillacrist doringne t”

“A prayer for Gilchrist who made this cross”

The Gilchrists in Tyrone are though to have originated in both Lanarkshire and Dunfriess.


Origins in Ulster: Scottish Plantation

Gilkinson is an abbreviation of the name Gilchristson the anglicized form of MacGilchrist (grandson of Gilchrist)

This family held lands in Murthly in Atholl in 1466 but was also commonly found in and around Glasgow in 1600. Yet more Gilchristsons appear in the 17th century records of Lanark.


Origins in Ulster:  Old Irish, later Scottish Plantation.

Can be of both Irish and Scottish origin. As with many of the “Gille” names derives from “Servant or devotee of Mary”

The Ulster Gilmores were a very powerful family controlling large territories in the baronies of Antrim Castlereagh and Lecale before the Plantation.  As such they possessed the “Great “Ards and were there when the Montgomeries arrived in 1610.

Would have been considered followers of the O’Neills.

However the name was also common in the Outer Hebrides ,families having settled there originally from Donegal. Gilmore can sometimes be found used by the Morrisons of Lewis and Harris.(also originally from Donegal). The Gilmores and the Morrisons were blood relatives.


Outside of Dublin this name is found only in Ulster where it is most common in Co. Antrim.  It was originally MacGourley, from Mag Thoirdealbhaigh, 'son of Turlough', a Tyrone-Antrim variant of the Armagh-Down name MacTurley.  The name, as Gourlay or Gourlie, is also well known in Scotland and there it is territorial in origin, probably from a place of the name in England.  Therefore some at least of the Ulster Gourleys may have Scottish roots.


Most people of this name in Ireland spell it as above, though occasionally the variant Grier is used; these and also Grierson are basically the same, being anglicized forms of the Scottish MacGregor, which is found unchanged in Co. Derry.  Greer is very numerous in Co. Antrim now and it occurs many times in the Hearth Money Rolls for that county (1669) and to some extent also in the rolls of other Ulster counties.  The principal families of the name came to Ireland in the seventeenth century, the earliest in the Plantation of Ulster and others a generation later.  Derry-born Samuel McCurdy Greer (1810-1880), who ended as county court judge of Cavan and Leitrim, was co-founder of the Tenant League in 1850 with Charles Gavan Duffy.


This popular Ulster name is most common in counties Antrim and Armagh and can be of Irish, Scottish or English origin, In England the name, originally Hamel, derives from the Old English word hamel, meaning ''scarred' or 'mutilated'.

In Scotland the name is of Norman territorial origin.  The first of the name on record there was William de Hameville in thirteenth-century Annandale in Dumfriesshire.  The name is well recorded in Lothian but was most common in Ayrshire and indeed, Hugh Hammill of Roughwood in Ayrshire was one of those who accompanied Montgomery of the Ards to Ulster.

However, already in Ulster at that time, the O'Hamills, Gaelic Ó hAghmaill, were one of the leading septs of the Cenél Binnigh, a brianch of the Cenél Eoghain.  As such the O'Hamills claim descent from Binneach, son of Eoghan, son of the fifth-century Niall of the Nine Hostages, founder of the Uí Néill dynasty.  The O'Hamills ruled a territory in south Tyrone and Armagh and from the twelfth century were poets and ollovs (learned men) to the powerful O'Hanlons.  By the seventeenth century the name was most numerous in Armagh and Monaghan and by 1900 was also common in Louth.  The prefix O' is now used only in Co. Derry, and there rarely.  The name has also been made Hamilton in that Country and elsewhere.


Origins in Ulster Early Plantation 1610

No less than six of the original fifty Scottish undertakers of the Plantation were Hamiltons. They were granted huge swathes of land in Cavan Armagh Tyrone and Fermanagh. Bringing with them large numbers of their extended family and kinsmen the Hamiton name soon became one of the most commonly found names in Ulster.

 Sir George Hamilton and Claude Hamilton were granted much of  Tyrone taking in the old lands of Art O’Neill centered on the Barony of Strabane. Lord Claude’s family  who later became the Dukes of Abercorn ,settled in Barnscourt, Newtownstewart

The family name derives from Hamilton in Larnarkshire.


Origins in Ulster : Plantation

Hayes is an English name from the old English heag “dweller by an enclosure”

It can also mean “high” or “tall”

It is in Ireland a variant of the Norman name de la Haye . Many in Ulster are of English stock

However there is also an Irish name O’ hAodha “decendant of Hugh” which in County Armagh especially around Keady which has been anglicised as Hayes and even Haffy and Mehaffy. The Scottish border family of Hoy has also been recorded as Hayes.


Origins in Ulster :Plantation

A Scottish name from Old English “Huda” a personal name.

The leader of the men of Surrey in AD 853 was “Huda”

Found in Scotland in 1225 in the Moray Firth.


This name is explained by several experts as being “hopper” from a dancer who performed at county fairs.

Robert Hopper received an acre of land in the territory of Coldingham in 1275

The same man was also associated with the Abbey of Coldstream

The Hopper family are still found in Coldingham in 1593 just some 20 years before the Plantation so this may be the origins of the Ulster Hopper family.


Origins in Ulster:  Old Irish

Hughes is among the ten most commonly found names in Tyrone.

Like Hays it is often used as an anglicisation of the old Irish name O’ hAodha “decendant of Hugh”

The Ulster septs of O’ hAodha who anglicised as Hughes were originally found in Ardstraw where they were Lords of Ui Fiachrach.

Also found as McHugh and Hoey even Haughey.


Hassan may have an eastern look but in Ireland it is the anglicized form of Ó hOsáin.  It is to be distinguished from Ó hOisín and Ó hOiseáin (see Hession and Hishon).  In Co. Derry, where it is numerous, it is spelt Hassan, Hasssen and Hasson.  In the Monaghan Hearth Money Rolls of 1663 it appears as O'Hessan.  There was a Hasson of Wexford among the "principal gentlemen" of that county in 1598, but that family was no doubt of non-Gaelic stock and a John Hassane was an influential merchant in Wexford fifty years earlier.


This surname is numerous in counties Armagh and Antrim.  It is said to have originated in the case of early emigrants from Ireland who thus acquired the Norman name of de Yrlande, some of their descendants returning eventually to this country.  In its modern form it occurs in the 1664 Hearth Money Rolls for Co. Armagh, and Samuel Ireland was one of the Poll-tax Commissioners for Co. Louth in 1660.

In mediavel records we meet more frequently the cognate name le Ireis; its modern form, Irish was formerly well known in Co. Kilkenny; eight families of the name are in Griffith's Valuation of that county in 1851, in which three Irelands also appear.  Ireland is now rare there but fairly numerous in Ulster.Mac)


Origins in Ulster : Scottish Plantaion

Irwin in Ulster is very often confused with Irvine especially in Fermanagh.

This may be due to the fact that both the Irwins and the Irvines arrived in Ulster about the same time (1630) from the same part of Dumfriesshire with both settling in Fermanagh, South Tyrone

The name can sometimes be found as Erwin but this is mainly in Antrim.


Jenkins is an English name sometimes also found in Scotland.  It is thought to be Flemish in origin and derives from the personal name Jenkin, a diminutive or pet form of Jan, Jen or Jon (John), originally spelt Janekyn.  (The name Jennings also derives from a diminutive of these three names, using -in instead of -kin.)  In Ireland Jenkins was gaelicised to Sincín or Seincín.

In Ulster it is most common  in Co. Antrim, in the south of which it has occasionally been made Junkin.


Origins in Ulster: English Plantation

Jennings is a Breton name coming from “Jenyn” a town in Brittany in France.

It is found in England as Jenyns as early as 1332.

Richard Jennings, a Londoner, is recorded as being “carpenter” to the Drapers Company entrusted with building the first houses in  Moneymore in 1616.


Origins in Ulster :Scottish Plantation

One of the fours most common names in Fermanagh in 1700

The exact origins of this family are complicated when one takes into account the large numbers of both Irish and Scottish septs who share the names Johnston and Johnson.

However the Fermanagh South Tyrone Johnstons were of the Scottish border reiver family of that name.

In Scotland the Johnston name also has a number of origins. The city of Perth for instance was often called St Johnston and families took their name from that. Another was the lands of Jonystoun in East Lothian .

By far the largest and most important of these families were the Johnstons of Annandale in Dumfriesshire ,one of the great riding clans of the Scottish Borders. It is this family,scattered by James VI who are the source of most of the “true” Ulster Johnstons. Their ferocity (they were known as “The gentle Johnstons)  made it possible for them together with their former fellow border reivers neighbours the Elliotts and the Armstrongs, to survive the 1641 rebellion which drove out other more faint hearted families.


(Scottish Kelly as opposed to Irish Kelly)

From the lands of Kelly near Arbroath in Angus. There is another Kellie near to Pittenweem in Fife. But all references point to Arbroath as the source of the surname.

John De Kelly was Abbot of Arbroath in 1373.

There was another 16th century Kelly family among the border rievers scattered by James VI who were located in Berwickshire and the surname is also found in Galloway as MacKelly.


Origins in Ulster :Plantation Scottish

From the town of the same name in Roxburghshire. About the year 1200 Arnald son of Peter of Kelso gifted lands to the monks of Kelso Abbey. The name was also found pre plantation in Brute (from where a great many settler families came) and on Arran Island.


Origins in Ulster : Scottish Plantation

The first appearance of a Kennedy in Galloway can be found in the Annals of Ulster

but this is a mistake. Suibhne mac Cinaeda ri Gallgaidhel modernised as MacCinaeda is in fact not Kennedy as supposed but McKenna.

The earliest Kennedy recorded in Scotland is Gilbert mac Kenedi who witnessed an agreement concerning the gift of the lands of Carric to the Abbey of Melrose early in the reign of King William the Lion.

Henry Kennedy is named in 1185 as being one of the instigators of rebellion in Galloway.

The propondrance of the name in Galloway is reflected in the poem by Symon c 1660

Twixt Wigton and the town of Air

Portpatrick and the Cruives of Cree

No man needs think for to bide there

Unless he court with Kennedie


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

Kerr also Keir and Kier a Scottish family who homeland was Sterlingshire,

taking their name from the Parish of Keir near Sterling.

Known in that place as early as 1245.

A separate Irish Kerr family of Monaghan origins can be found most often as Carr.

There is no known connection between these two Kerr families.


The Irish name MacGiolla Pheadair (i.e. son of the servant or devotee of St Peter) has several anglicized forms: Kilfeather, Kilfeder, Kilfether and occasionally Gilfeather - the prefix Mac is not now retained with any of them.  The homeland of the sept was Co. Sligo and it has spread into the neighbouring counties of Ulster.

This is not to be confused with Kilfedrick, which is a rare synonym of Kilpatrick.


Origins in Ulster : Scottish Plantation

The name Kilpatrick often translated as “servant of Patrick” is of local origin from one or more places so named.

Stevene de Kilpatric del counte is found in Dunfreiss in 1296

Many of the Kilpatricks of Ulster especially in Fermanagh and Tyrone derive from East or West Kilpatrick in Dumbartonshire.


The word 'kirk' for 'church' is common in the north of England and in Scotland, areas where the Danes settled in the tenth century.  (The Scandinavians did not use the sound 'ch'.)  Kirk is a Scottish name of various local origins, from residence near a church.  The Dumfriesshire name Kirkhoe, now rare, also became Kirk.

In Ireland the name is most common in counties Antrim and Louth, though a particular concentration was noted in the parish of Killaney, Barony of Upper Castlereagh, Co. Down, in the mid-nineteenth century.  In Co. Monaghan the name Kirke is thought to be a variant of Carragher, Gaelic Mac Fhearchair, through the seventeenth-century variants Kearcher and Kirker.  Kirk was also noted as synonymous with Kirkpatrick around Coleraine and Limavady in Co. Derry at the start of the twentieth centry (see Kirkpatrick).


Also found as Legat,Leggatt, and Ligatt

There are two possible origins of this name. Probably from the old English personal name Leodgeard or from the office of “legate” an ambassador, a delegate etc.

Adam Legate rendered his accounts to the Bailie of Sterling in 1406 and later became a burgess of the same town.

The Leggat name continued to have strong connections with Sterling right up to 1600.


Lyness, with its variant spellings, Lynas, Lynass, Lynis, is a numerous name in counties Antrim and Down today.  It appears in the Co. Armagh Hearth Money Rolls of 1664 in three parishes.  Strange though it seems Lynas or Lyness has been recorded in recent times as in use in the Newry area as a synonym of MacAleenan.


Origins in Ulster: Early Plantation.

The Loves arrived as tenants of the Hamiltons of Barnscourt in Newtownstewart.

Many can be found in the 1631 muster rolls in Ardstraw and Castlederg

The family has it’s origins in the lowlands of Scotland where it is most common in Paisley and Glasgow. A well known Ayreshire Covenanter  family of MacKinvens who were given refuge in Kintyre changed their names to Love.

Campbeltown poet Angus Keith MacKinvern.who died at the battle of the Somme used the pen name A. K. Love.


This name, which was found to be twelfth most numerous in its homeland of Co. Monaghan in 1970, is almost exclusive to the south of that county, Armagh and Louth.  The name in Gaelic was Mac Ardghail, from ardghal, meaning 'high valour'.

They are a branch of the MacMahons of Oriel, forst noted as Sliocht Ardghail Mhóir Mhic Mathúna, 'the stock of Ardghal Mór MacMahon', who was chief of the MacMahons from 1402 to 1416.  They were based originally in the barony of Monaghan and a branch became sub-chiefs in Armagh under the O'Neills of the Fews.

The early-eighteenth-century Gaelic poet James MacArdle was of the Fews district.  He was a contemporary of poet Patrick MacAlinden who was married to the poet Siobhán Nic Ardghail (Johanna MacArdle).

MACCURDY (also MacBrearty and MacMurtry)

In Ireland, apart from a few MacCurdys in Co. Derry, the name is found exclusively in Co. Antrim, as is MacMurtry.  MacBrearty, an exclusively Ulster name, is most common in counties Tyrone and Donegal.

These three names, and also MacMurty, were all originally in Gaelic Mac Muircheartaigh, from Muircheartach or Murtagh, meaning 'sea ruler'.  MacCurdy is common on the islands of Arran and Bute, where it is a variant of MacMurtrie, a sept of Clan Stuart of Bute.  In the fifteenth century the MacKurerdys, as they were then called, owned most of Bute.  MacCurdy and its variants are still found on Bute but have now disappeared from Arran, Kintyre and the Isles, having become Currie (see Currie).

Across the North Channel, MacCurdy is a well-known Rathlin name, having been for centuries the most common name on the island.  It is common too in the Glens and on the north coast of Antrim, to which it probably came with the Stewarts when they arrived at Ballintoy, having lost their lands in Bute in the mid-sixteenth century.

MacBrearty has the same form in Gaelic but is most likely Irish.  MacMurty may have the same Irish origin but has become lost in the Scots MacMurtry.


Macilmorie is from the Scottish Gaelic Macgiolla Mhuire The family as either M’Ilmorie or M’Kilmorie were found in Rothesay in medieval times.

It is likely the Macilmories who settled in Ulster were actually Macilmorrows from Ballantrae Parish where the name was also found as McElmurro, McElmurre and Macilmurry around 1600.


The MacMonagles are numerous in Co. Donegal and in the city of Derry and those found elsewhere have their origin there.  The name is also spelt MacMonigle, MacMonegal and MacMonigal.  There are several in the Co. Donegal Hearth Money Rolls of 1665 (one appearing, presumably by error, as O'Monigal).  Crone considered Alexander MacMonagle (1848-1919) "the doyen of Ulster journalists" worthy of a place in his Dictionary of Irish Biography.


This name is found in all the provinces of Ireland but is common only in Ulster, where it is strongest in counties Down, Derry and Antrim.  It is also well known in Dublin.  It has been recorded in Ireland since early medieval times but its current prevalence in Ulster probably stems from post-Plantation Scottish settlers.

The name is Norman, originally le Mareschal.  It stems from the Old French mareschal, meaning a 'farrier'.)  Although the position of marshall became one of great dignity, it is though that, in Scotland at least, the majority of Marshalls derive their name from the more humble occupational name.  A particular concentration of the name was noted north of Newry in Co. Down in the late nineteenth century.


Origins in Ulster Scottish Plantation

From the personal name possibly from Saint Martin,it is the name of a once great family of East Lothian

Abraham Martin of this family (died 1664) was the first king’s pilot on the St Lawrence River Canada and the Plains of Abraham the scene of the battle of 1759 were named from the grant of land he received in 1617.

The Martins were early settlers in South Tyrone in the Ulster Plantation.


Origins in Ulster : Irish Gaelic and Scottish

From the family Connell of Munster. Gaelic O’Conaill  they were driven out of their Kerry homeland by the O’Donaghues in the 11th century.

Connells and McConnells in Ulster can be of this connection however a great many are of Scottish origin from a sept of the MacDonnells of the Glens of Antrim

and therefore a direct branch of the very ancient Clan Donald which can trace its origins back to Roman Britain.


Origins in Ulster: Native Irish or Scottish Planter

McIvor is also McKeever ,very numerous in both Counties Tyrone and Londonderry.

They can both be of either Irish or Scottish origin

In Monaghan the McKeevers were originally Mac Eimhir “son of Heber”

A favourite forename of the McMahons.

Both the McIvors and McKeevers in Ulster whether of Irish or Scottish stock would have been originally McIvar.

There were McIlvar septs of Clans Campbell Robertson and MacKenzie.

In Dungannon MacKeever and McIvor can both be found together.


Origins in Ulster : Plantation

MaKittrick is from MacKettrick a family name widely found in Galloway.

In Gaelic it is spelled Mac Shitrig “ son of Sitric” or “Sitrig” meaning “true victory”

The Annals of Ulster record that in the year 892 there was great confusion among the Norse men when “Sitriucc son of Imhar” was slain by another Norseman.

This is the earliest sighting of the namw which later was to evolve as McKittrick.


Origins in Ulster:  Pre Plantation (16th Century)

More properly MacClean. Decendants of the Scottish galloglasses who were brought to the Province by various Irish Lords in the 16th century . The name is originally Scots Gaelic Mac Gille Eoin  “Son of the servant of (St) John”

Were in the service of McDonald, Lord of the Isles and by the 15th century owned a large part of Mull and Tiree as well as extensive lands on Jura, Islay and Scarba.

In the 16th century with the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles these MacCleans hired themselves out as mercenary soldiers. The McCleans who came to Ulster were the McCleans of Duart, brought over initially by the McDonnells of Antrim and later the O’Neills of Tyrone.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

Of  Scottish origin from “son of Menzies”  a small family from Wigtownshire.

Also found in Kilcudbright and in the Parish of Brogue.


In Ireland this name is well known in Leinster and Connacht but is most common in Ulster, especially counties Antrim and Down. Not much is known of its history,  It is an English name, not particularly common in any area, and may have originally signified a 'dweller by the mills', or it may have derived from 'Miles's son'.  In the mid-nineteenth century a particular concentration of the name was noted to the north of Dromore, in the barony of Lower Iveagh in Co. Down.


Origins in Ulster: Scottish and English Plantation

A common name (from the trade) and can be found in both England and Scotland.

As every Burg had a miller the name sprang up independently in many places.

The spelling “Millar” is preferred in Scotland and can be found there from the 15th century.

John Millar of Renfrewshire was an early undertaker in the Plantation and settled in the Parish of Magheraboy in County Fermanagh.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

Moffitt more commonly found as Moffatt appears in Ulster in the early 17th century

Originates in the town of Moffat in Annadale Dumfriesshire in 1232

Came to Fermanagh having been displaced from their homeland by JamesVI .

Another branch of this family from Cumberland close to the Scottish borders resettled in Co Monaghan.


Origins in Ulster: English and Scottish Plantation

A very popular and therefore common name in both England and Scotland where it is more readily found as More or Muir.

It was first noted in a variety of places in the early 13th century . There were also Mores of the Clan Leslie and Muirs of the Clan Campbell of Glencoe fame.

The Tyrone Moores are most likely decended from Lanarkshire families of the name

Early 17th century settlers.


Origins in Ulster : Among the first planter families.c 1610

This Scottish family decend from the family of Roger de Montgomerie a French Norman whose home was Sainte Foi de Montgomerie in the Lisieux district of Normandy.

A prominent partaker in the 1066 conquest the family soon became very powerful in England.

The first in Scotland was Robert de Mundegumri died 1177 who was granted Eaglesham in Renfrewshire. Cousins to the Eaglesham Montgomeries were the Montgomeries of Braidstone in Ayreshire.

Sir Hugh Montgomerie of Briadstone ,an advisor to James VI aquired half of the O’Neill lands which included parts of Ards and also lands in the Parish of Enniskillen.

On their arrival in Ireland these families took the name Montgomery.


Origins in Ulster: Scottish Plantation.

The Morrisons were a Donegal family the O’Morrisons,from Clonmany in Inishowen, who migrated from Donegal to settle in the Scottish Isles in the 15/16th century.

The Morrisons of Lewis and Harris,kinsmen of the McLeods, had for years fought a bitter feud with their neighbours the McAuleys of Lewis over water rights.

In a famous “show down” the Morrisons were all but wiped out by the McAuleys, the survivors escaping in three long boats to Rathlin Island. Here they regrouped and made their way back to Ulster to coincide with the start of the Plantation in which their kinsmen the Gilmores were also partaking. Many Morrisons choose to settle in Fermanagh where the watery landscape best suited the old skills they had learned in the Western Isles.


Origins in Ulster : Irish Gaelic

From the Irish Gaelic O’Maolchalann  “son of the devotee of St Calann”

The Mulhollands  claim as their homeland the Parish of Loughinsholin in County Londonderry. Famous as being (together with the Mallons) the keepers of St Patrick’s Bell. They spread rapidly from the 14th century to various corners of Ulster.


Origins in Ulster :Scottish Plantation

Common in Fermanagh since the Plantation this family can be of either English or Scottish extraction.

An English family of the name settled in East Lothian in the 12th century and the name spead to Dumbartonshire. The Nobles of Straithnairn ,near Inverness and Strathdean in Nairnshire were a sept of Clan McIntosh.

The Nobles, as mentioned before in the case of other Fermanagh planters lived on the English side of the West March of the Scottish Borders.

Like their compatriats the Nobles were scattered by James and fled to Fermanagh to rejoin the Elliotts, Armstrongs and Johnstons.

Though most in Fermanagh, South Tyrone would be of this origin at least one prominent family claims decent from a settler from Cornwall.


This name as le Norreys (i.e. the northman) is very frequent in Irish records since the thirteenth century.  It came into special prominence with the arrival of Sir John Norris, who was responsible for the terrible massacre at Rathlin Island in 1575.  He became President of Munster in 1584 and was succeeded by his brother Thomas in 1597.  Another brother, Henry (d.1599), is favourably mentioned by the Four Masters.  The name is now found in considerable numbers in all the provinces except Connacht.  Some curious synonyms of it have been reported by local registrars, e.g. Nowry in Co. Derry, Nurse in Co. Kerry and Northbridge in west Cork.  These three names are very rare in Ireland; Nurse and Nourse are normal synonyms of Norris in England; Northridge is an English name denoting residence at the north ridge.  Bibl., Map


This name is equally common in Ulster, Leinster and Connacht, its main centres being Dublin, Co. Sligo and Co. Antrim.  The name is in Gaelic Ó hEaghra and the family was originally of Co. Sligo, descendants of one Eaghra, pronounced 'ara', a chief of Leyny in that county.

In the fourteenth century a branch migrated to the Glens of Antrim and settled at Crebilly near Ballymena.  Here it became an important sept and entered into several marriages and alliances with the great families of Antrim.  In the mid-nineteenth century O'Haras were still found concentrated in the barony of Lower Glenarm.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the name was being used interchangeably with Haren in several parts of Co. Fermanagh and so some at least of the O'Haras of that county will be originally O'Harens, Gaelic Ó hÁráín.  The O'Harens were erenaghs of Ballymactaggart.


Exept for some Porters in Dublin this name in Ireland is exclusive to Ulster.  It is most common in counties Antrim, Down, Derry and Armagh.  It can be of English or Scottish origin.

Porter is an occupational name and though it can derive from the Old French porteur, meaning a 'carrier of burdens', its main derivation is from the Old French portier, a 'porter' or 'doorkeeper'.  In medieval times the office of porter was one of the most important in castle and monastery and came with lands and privileges.  The word was in Scotland gaelicised as portair, which had the extra meaning of 'ferryman'.

The name is one of the most common in every kind of Irish record since the thirteenth century, but most in Ulster will be of post-Plantation origin.  The most famous of the name in Ulster was a Presbyterian minister, the Revd James Porter, 1753-98, of Greyabbey, Co. Down.  He was a United Irishman and a series of letters he published under the title Billy Bluff and Squire Firebrand drew the attention of the government.  He was tried on the false evidence of an informer and hanged at Greyabbey within sight of his home and church.

QUIGLEY (also Quigg)

Quigley is common in all the four provinces of Ireland but is most numerous in Ulster, particularly counties Derry and Donegal.  It is in Gaelic Ó Coigligh, which may derive from the word coigeal, denoting a 'person with unkempt hair'.

There were O'Quigleys, a sept of the Uí Fiachra of Co. Mayo, and another sept of Inishowen in Donegal.  The most common form of the name is now Quigley, but Kegley and Twigley are also found. The name is well known in Fermanagh and Monaghan, a sept of O'Quigley there being erenaghs of Clontivrin in the parish of Clones.

Quigg, an exclusively Ulster name found mainly in Co. Derry but also in Co. Monaghan, can be an abbreviated form of Quigley, but it is also the name of a recognised sept of Co. Derry whose name is in Gaelic Ó Cuaig. Particularly in Co. Down both these names have been made Fivey in the mistaken notion that the Gaelic for 'five' cúig, was an element in their construction.


Also Rainy and Rannie and Rennie

Origins in Ulster : Plantation Scottish

Rainey and the variant spellings are pet forms of Reynold a spoken form of Reginald.

The Raineys and Rennys were extensive land owners in the district of Craig in Angus from the middle of the 15th century. The family can also be found in Stirling, Dunfreiss, and East Lothian.


Origins in Ulster : Plantation Scottish

The Ramsays are reputed to have originated in Huntingdonshire where Ramsay is a local name .The first to be recorded in Scotland is Simund de Ramesie

(Simon of Ramsay) who is found in Livingstone in 1153

By the middle of the 13th century the Ramsays are appearing as landowners in Angus.


Origins in Ulster  English or Scottish Plantation

Reed and Reid is a name readily found in Tyrone.

It can be or several origins Irish Scottish or English.

The Reids of Tyrone however seem to derive from one of the lesser of the riding clans of the Scottish borders from Redesdale in the West March.


Origins in Ulster:  Scottish Plantation

The name is Scottish and more properly MacRobb from Robb the Scottish pet name for Robert.

The MacRobbs of Duror in Argyll were a sept of the Stewarts of Appinn.

Other MacRobbs of Callander and Kilmadock in Perthshire were also early settlers.


Origins in Ulster : English and Scottish Plantation

Ross has possible origins in both Scotland and England.

In the north of Scotland the Clan Ross derives its name from the district of Ross.

The Parish of Tain in Ross was known to have so many families of the name that “nick names” had to be employed to identify them .

In England the name Ross is found in 17th century Yorkshire from the town of Roos .

As regards Tyrone the Scottish connection may be more pertinent as a branch of the Ayrshire De Ros family were important undertakers in the Plantation.

ROULSTON (also Rolston)

This name is rare in Ireland outside Ulster, where it is most common in counties Tyrone and Antrim.  It is an English toponymic and can derive from several places called Rolleston or Rowlston in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire or Yorkshire.  All these placenames were originally spelt Rolvestun, meaning 'Rolf's farm'.

Most in Ulster descend from the Staffordshire Rollestons, R. Rollestone of that shire being one of the English undertakers of the Plantation.  He was granted 1000 acres in Teemore in the barony of Oneilland West in Co. Armagh.  The name is also found as Rollstone and Rowlston.


Several men of this name have been prominent in England, their native country.  In Ireland it has been mainly associated with Co. Derry from the seventeenth century to the present day.  Two Sherrards, Daniel and William, were among the thirteen famous apprentice boys whose unofficial action led to the subsequent successful resistance of the siege of Derry in 1689.

SIMMINGTON (Symington)

Origins in Ulster : Scottish Plantation

There is a village and Parish of name Symington in the Kyle district of Ayrshire,

However the old family of Symington derive from Symington in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. Simon Loccard fore runner of the Lockharts of Lee held both places under the Stewarts in the latter part of the 12th century. In 1315 King Robert 1 confirmed on Thomas (Dickson) son of Richard the barony of “Symundestone” in Lanark

This Thomas is the first of the Symington name.


Origins in Ulster Early Plantation c 1620

Andrew Stewart Lord Ochiltree of Ayreshire was one of the nine Scottish chief undertakers of the Plantation and was granted lands at Mountjoy in Tyrone.

His grandson Sir William Stewart was created Lord Mountjoy in 1682.

Stewartstown is named after him.


Origins in Ulster: Scottish Plantation.

Summerville aka. Sommerville take their family name from a town near Caen in Normandy. William de Somerville was the first of the name in Scotland when he came in the train of King David 1 and received lands in Lanarkshire,where the family settled and remained.

There were five William Somervilles in succession the last dying in 1282.

Also known in Linton in Roxburghshire, where one of the aforementioned William’s received another land grant.

Were early planters in Fermanagh.


Apart from a few in Dublin, Toners are found almost exclusively in Ulster, particularly in counties Derry and Armagh.  A few in Ulster may be English.  The name is in Gaelic Ó Tomhrair, from a Norse personal name, Tomar.

However, the family is not of Norse origin, but was a sept of the Cenél Eoghain based originally on the banks of the Foyle, near Lifford in Co. Donegal.  They later migrated to Derry and Armagh.

The name is found in England, where it was early imported from Ireland (recorded as Tunere in 1242).  It can also be from le Toner, 'dweller by the farm or village', from Old English tun.

Variants of the name include Tonner, Tonra and Tonry.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation

A metathetic form of the family name Turnbull. Turnbull, becoming Trumbul and so on to Trimble. Janet Trumble appears in Crosiereige in 1674 and John Trimble in Elsrigle Parish of Libbertoun in 1689.

Scottish American writer Robert Black gives a romantic origin for the Turnbull name.

According to tradition he says the name derived from Robert Rule a man who saved the life of King Robert the Bruce by diverting away a ferocious bull about the gore the King to death.

For this act of outstanding bravery he was given the new tithe of Robert “Turnbull”

and a grant to the lands of Bedrule .

Like many similar tales the story may have been made to fit the name rather than the reverse.

The Turnbulls were a turbulent Border Clan and suffered the same fate at the hands of James VI as their troublesome neighbours. It is likely that the Trumbels or Trimbels arrived in Ulster due to this scatterment.


Origins in Ulster: Plantation Scottish.

The name is actually Vans a corruption of Vaus and they are an old family of Barnbarroch in Wigtownshire. Also found in Stranraer.

A number of Vans and Vaus names can be found in early Plantation land grants especially in County Donegal.


Origins in Ulster: Irish Gaelic

 The family of Wade are McQuaids, sometimes also spelt as McQuade.

The name originally in Gaelic is found as Mac Uaid , “son of Watt”

And was that of a sept of County Monaghan centered around Ballyglassloch. The origins of this family are obscure but they were known to be associated with the church at Donagh.

The name Wade in County Tyrone can be of these origins but there was also a Scottish MacWade another variant spelling from the same root.

The unusual name MacAragh  which is taken from Wade and McQuaide can be found only in Irvinestown County Fermanagh.


Origins in Ulster : Plantation Scottish

Watson is “son of Walter” from which we also get the family name Watt.

Sir Donald Walteri a presbyter in the diocese of Moray in 1493 is found later as Sir Donald Watsone.

Walter Watson burgess of Dumbarton was a landowner there in 1494 and a long succession of Dumbarton bailies, provosts and other town officers decend from him.

In the 16th and 17th century the name was common throughout the Lowlands of Scotland . Some Highland MacWatts translated their name to Watson.


Origins in Ulster : Plantation

The name Watt is exclusive to Ulster and can be of either Scottish or English origin.

From the old German personal name Walter it was introduced into Britain before the arrival of the Normans. After the Conquest it became a very popular name and was pronounced and written as “Wauter”, hence the abbreviated form of Watt and Wattie.

A very common name in the Scottish Lowlands particularly in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire

In the 19th century it is reported that in one village in Banffshire inhabitated by 300 people no less than 225 had the surname Watt.

Other Watts can be found who derive from an abbreviated form of Watson.


Origins in Ulster Plantation

The Whitesides arrived in numbers from Scotland in the early years of the Plantation c 1625 . They can be found both in the 1631 Muster Rolls and the 1666 Hearth Money Rolls in many different Parishes predominantly in County Antrim.

They originate from lands of Whiteside in Lanarkshire.

WILLIAMS see Williamson

WILLIAMSON (also Williams)

In Ireland Williamson is almost exclusive to Ulster and is most common in counties Antrim, Derry, Armagh and Tyrone;  most will be of Scottish origin.  Williams is less common in Ulster than in Leinster and Munster.  It is more common in Co. Antrim than elsewhere and most will be of English or Welsh origin.

The personal name William derives from the Old German Willihelm and when introduced into Britain by the Normans, it became the single most popular personal name in England and remained so until it was superseded by John.  It gave rise to a host of surnames including Williamson and Williams but by far the most common was Williams.  It is currently the third most numerous name in England, the first being Smith and the second, Jones.  In Wales William was made Gwilym, which became the surname Gwilliams and Then Williams.

Williams was never common in Scotland which retained the longer Williamson.  This was very common in the Lowlands.  The Highland name MacWilliam was also anglicised as Williamson (see MacWilliams).  There were MacWilliams or Williamsons, a sept of Clan Gunn, who descended from a later chief of the clan called William.  There were also Williamsons in Caithness, a sept of Clan Mackay.

Charles Williams, 1838-1904, the war correspondent, was born at Coleraine, Co. Derry.  As a reporter for the Evening Standard and the Daily Chronicle, he covered almost every war in Europe and Africa in a thirty-year period, from the Franco-German War in 1870 to the recapture of Khartoum in 1898.  He also founded the Press Club.


This name is an English toponymic derived from a place in Northumberland.  It is now quite numerous in Donegal and Derry where it was found in the seventeenth century as the Hearth Money Rolls attest.


Clan From the Gaelic clann which means literally 'children'.
Mac- From the Gaelic mac, meaning 'son'
O' From the Gaelic Ó, meaning 'grandson', 'grandchild' or 'descendant'; Ní is the femine form of Ó, meaning 'daughter' or 'descendant'
Plantation (Ulster) The redistribution of escheated lands after the defeat of the Ulster Gaelic lords and the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607.  Only counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, Fermanagh and Cavan were actually 'planted', portions of land there being distributed to English and Scottish families on their lands and for the building of bawns.
Sept A family group of shared ancestry living in the same locality
Undertakers Powerful English or Scottish landowners who undertook the plantation of British settlers on the lands they were granted.
Gaelic This word in Ireland has no relation to Scotland.  As a noun it is used to denote the Irish language, as an adjective to denote native Irish as opposed to Norman or English origin.
Erenagh From the Irish Gaelic airchinneach, meaning 'hereditary steward of church lands'.  A family would hold the ecclesiastical office and the right to the church or monastery lands, the incumbent at any one time being the erenagh.

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