Surname Groups

The Irish population is a mixture of a number of different national and cultural surname groups of which the Gaelic Irish is the most predominant. The additional groups identified by Matheson follow.

Danish surnames

The Danes came to Ireland between the ninth and twelfth centuries and established themselves on the eastern and southern coast. They founded the Kingdom of Dublin in 852, and their chief towns were Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick.

Surnames traceable to Danish origin are: Betagh; Coppinger; Dowdall; Dromgoole or Drumgoole, Gould, Harold, Palmer, Plunkett, Skiddy, Sweetman (Swedeman) and Trant. It is accepted that many families of Danish origin took Irish surnames, prefixing O’ and Mac, so that their descent cannot now be ascertained without difficulty.

Cambro-Norman surnames

The Cambro-Norman invasion resulted in a second graft to our Gaelic surnames and there are many examples of such surnames. Examples given by Matheson are: Barry, Bellew, Bermingham, Burke, Carew, Clare, Cogan, Dalton, Darcy, De Courcy, Delamere, Dillon, FitzEustace, Fitzgerald, Fitzhenry, Fitzmaurice, Fitzsimons, Fitzstephen, Gernon, Grace, Hussey, Keating, Lacy, Le Poer, Marshall, Montmorency, Mortimer, Nangle, Nugent, Petit, Prendergast, Purcell, Roche, Staunton, Taafe, Talbot, Tuite, Tyrrell, Verdon, Vesey.

Adoption of Irish Surnames

MacDermott, in his annotations to the Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters, refers to the fact that many of these families adopted Irish surnames: The de Burgos or Burkes, of Connaught, took the name of MacWilliam, and some of them that of MacPhilip; the de Angulos or Nangles, of Meath and Mayo, changed the name to MacCostello; the de Exeters, of Mayo, to MacJordan; the Barretts of Mayo to MacWattin; the Stauntons of Mayo to M·Aveeley; ... the de Berminghams of Connaught and other places to MacFeorais, or Peorais; ... the Fitzsimmons of the King’s County, to MacRuddery; ... the Poers of Kilkenny and Waterford to MacShere; the Butlers to MacPierce; the Fitzgeralds to MacThomas and MacMaurice; the de Courcys of Cork to MacPatrick; the Barrys, of Cork to MacAdam; and many others. in like manner.

English surnames

Large numbers of English came to Ireland between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, thus the large number of English surnames at present in Ireland. In addition there was the legislative provisions of 1366 and 1465 referred to elsewhere.

Matheson gives the following examples of English surnames: Adams; Andrews; Arnold; Ashe; Atkinson; Baker; Barr; Barton; Bates; Bennett; Berry; Bingham; Bolton; Bradshaw; Brooks; Canning; Carlisle; Carter; Christy; Cooper; Cox; Crowe; Downes; Edwards; English; Field; Fisher; Freeman; Goodwin; Hall; Harper; Harris; Harrison; Hawthorne; Henry; Hewitt; Hill; Holmes; Hopkins; Hunt; Hunter; Jackson; Jenkins; Johnson; Kidd; King Lamb; Lane; Little; Long; Mitchell; Morton; Nash; Osborne; Pearson; Richardson; Roberts; Robinson; Salmon; Shaw; Short; Simpson; Small; Somers; Swan; Taylor; Thornton; Turner; Walker; Wall; Waters; Watson; Webb; Webster; West; White; Woods; and Wright. Many of these surnames are numerous in particular counties.

Cornish surnames

Cornish surnames are also to be found in Ireland. Wicklow and Wexford have many examples of such surnames. The Cornish surnames referred to by Matheson are: Jagoe, Lanyon, Pascoe, Pender, Pendred, Penrose, Tredennick, Tresilian, Trevelyan, and Vivian.

Welsh surnames

Welsh surnames are also to be found in Ireland, particularly in Wicklow and Wexford. Apart from Walsh and its Gaelic form Breathnach which are referred to in the main text the following surnames are to be found: Howell, Lawless, Lillis, Lynagh, Lynnott, and Merrick. A Welsh colony established itself in the baronies of Forth and Bargy in Wexford at the time of the Cambro-Norman invasion, and retained its exclusiveness up until a hundred and fifty years ago. Surnames to be found there included Cod; Hore; Quiney; Rossiter; Sinnott; Stafford; Stephen; Walsh; and Whitty, these surnames were numerous in the town of Wexford.

Scottish surnames

Scottish surnames are also to be found in Ireland, particularly in Ulster. Prior to the Plantation of Ulster there was Scottish settlement in east Ulster (Antrim and Down). With the Plantation of six of the Ulster counties, Scottish settlement in Ireland increased dramatically and the abundance of surnames from Scotland is clear.

Manx surnames

Matheson points out similarities between the development of surnames in Ireland and the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man passed through similar phases of occupancy: first it was inhabited by the Gaels; then there was a period of Scandinavian domination; to be followed by English domination. Many native Manx surnames have the same derivation as Gaelic surnames.

Examples being Cannell as the Gaelic MacConaill; Kermode as the Gaelic Mac Diarmada; and Mylchreest as the Gaelic Mac Giolla Chriosd.

French Huguenot surnames

The Parliament of Ireland in 1674 passed an Act granting letters of naturalization to Protestant refugees predominantly from France who were known as Huguenots. Colonies were established in Dublin, Kilkenny, Portarlington, Waterford, Cork and Lisburn, and they started the manufacture of silk, gloves, lace, cloth, and linen.

Examples of Hugenot surnames are: Barre, Blacquiere, Boileau, Chaigneau, Du Bedat, Champion, Chenevix, Corcellis, Crommelin, Delacherois, Drelincourt, Dubourdieu, Du Cros, Fleury, Gaussen, Logier, Guerin, Hazard (Hassard), La Touche, Le Fevre, Lefroy, Lefanu, Maturin, Perrin, Saurin, Trench, Des Vignolles.

German Palatinate surnames

In the eighteenth century there was migration to Ireland from the Palatinate of the Rhine in Germany. These German refugees settled principally in Limerick around 1709, and their seperate culture remained intact up until a hundred years ago.

Palatinate surnames to be found in and around: Court, Matrix, Ballingran, Killiheen, and Adare in Limerick were: Baker, Bovanizer, Bowen, Doube, Delmege, Gillard, Latchford, Ligier, Millar, Lodwig, Modlar, Pyper, Reynard, Ruttle, Shire, Stark, and Switzer.

Jewish surnames

Jewish surnames in Europe may be classified as either Ashkenazic (Yiddish speaking Jews and their descendants), or Sefardic (the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula and their descendants), but this division is not always absolute. There is a further division into Western Ashkenazic referring to speakers of Western Yiddish, and Eastern Askenazic referring to speakers of Easter Yiddish. The boundary between them being the old Geman-Polish border. Eastern Yiddish is further subdivided into North-Eastern, Central, and South-Eastern.

In the years 1881 to 1890 the Jewish population of Ireland which had resided in the cities were added to by the arrival of Russian and Polish Jews (North-Eastern Ashkenazic). Many of these settled in the south side of Dublin, and formed a Jewish Quarter.

Examples of Jewish settler surnames given by Matheson are: Coplan, Fridberg, Greenberg, Hesselberg, Maisell, Matufsky, Rabinovitch, Rossin, Statzumsky, Stuppel, Wachman, Wdedeclefoky, Weeeiner, and Winstock.



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