Select Duggan Surname Genealogy

The Irish name O’Dubhagain, being a diminutive of the Gaelic dubh meaning “black,” was anglicized principally as Duggan.  Other spellings were Dugan and Doogan, the latter representing perhaps a more accurate rendition of the Irish pronunciation.  The name was also to be found, as Dougan and Dugan, in SW Scotland close to Ireland.

Dugan, Duggan and Dougan
are the main spellings today.  Duggan predominates, except in America where there are more Dugans.  Dougan is Scottish or Scots Irish.

Select Duggan Resources on The Internet

Select Duggan Ancestry

IrelandThe surname arose simultaneously in a number of areas – in Cork, Galway, Wexford and Fermanagh.  The largest numbers at the time of Griffith’s Valuation in the mid-19th century were in Cork, followed by Tipperary and Galway. 

.  The O’Dubhagains
here held territory near Fermoy in north Cork.  They were originally the ruling family of the Fir Maighe family grouping which had given its name to the town.  The poet O’Heerin described them as follows in the early 15th century:

“Chief of Fermoy of well-fenced forts
Is O’Dugan of Dunmannan
A tribe of Gaels of precious jewels.”

However, along with other Fir Maighe families, they had lost their power when the Normans conquered the territory in the 12th and 13th centuries. The family name continued in the parish and townland of Caherduggan in that area. Duggans date from the early 1700’s in the barony of Duhallow and were landowners at Kilmeen a century or so later.

.  Another sept of the same name was to be found in the Ui Maine area of east Galway and south Roscommon. They may have had pre-Gaelic origins from the earlier Tir Soghain in Galway. 

They had their homeland in the parish of Fohenagh and were known as bards and scribes. The most prominent of them was Sean MorO’Dubhagain who lived in the mid-14th century.  The Annals of the Four Masters recorded the deaths of two other notables - Richard O’Dubhagáin in 1379 and Donal O’Dubhagáin in 1487.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the greatest concentration of the name was to be found at Claregalway in county Galway and in the environs of Galway City. 
Patrick Duggan who became Bishop of Clonfert is best remembered for his supposed interference in the election in Galway in 1872 in support of tenants’ rights, for which he was tried and acquitted.

. The original Irish name here was O’Duibhghinn.  The genealogy of the Wexford Duggans became a matter of considerable interest in the early 1900’s when the story of the so-called "Duggan millions" became known.  Alfredo Duggan of Argentina, a descendant of a Wexford emigrant, had died an extremely wealthy man with no heirs. Eventually in 1944 a nephew, then aged 72 and originally from Rosslare, inherited several million pounds.

.  There were O’Dugains who were erenachs (hereditary priests) at Inishkeen in Fermanagh.  The Dugans and Dougans in Ulster, most common in Antrim and Down, are most likely to have been of Scottish extraction.  The footballer Derek Dougan, for instance, grew up in the 1950’s in a traditional working-class Protestant family in Belfast.

  The spelling in Scotland is either Dougan or Dugan, although the roots – the Gaelic dubh – are the same as in Ireland. 

The early sightings were in Galloway and Wigtown.  There was a 15th century bishop in Galloway named Adougan; while Loch Dougan lies in Kirkcudbright.  The name spread up the coast in Ayrshire and inland to Glasgow.  Many crossed the Irish Sea to Ulster.

Isle of Man
.  Duggan can also be a Manx name.  John Duggan died at Arbory in 1769.    The name also cropped up later at Onchan on the east coast where they were farmers.  

.  The spelling in America was generally Dugan.

One early arrival was Thomas Dugan, Scots Irish from Donegal, who came with his family to Pennsylvania sometime in the 1740’s.  Son Robert migrated south to the Newberry district in the 1760’s where he helped to establish the first Presbyterian church in South Carolina: 
  • his son Thomas was a colonel in the Continental army during the Revolutionary War. 
  • but after the war was over two of his other sons - Robert and John - were murdered by British supporters at their home.
Thomas Dugan had been born in Maryland in 1773 and his brother George some two years later.  In the 1790’s they moved to Kentucky and settled in Nelson county near Bardstown where they farmed.  George was the ancestor of most of the Nelson county Dugans. 

Among later Dugan arrivals were: 
  • John Dugan, a physician, and his wife Margaret who arrived from Armagh in 1849 and settled at Sterling in upstate New York.  The story goes that John was the son of an Irish lord but, having married against his wishes, was disowned by his father.  Their son Hugh was for many years the proprietor of the Exchange Hotel in Oswego. 
  • Martin and Bridget Dugan from Galway who came to Indiana in 1854.  Martin and his sons were farmers at Brownsburg.
  • Martin and Mary Dugan from Tipperary who came to Michigan sometime in the 1850’s and later settled in Crawford county, Iowa where Martin farmed.   Some of their descendants subsequently moved onto Omaha, Nebraska. 
  • and Patrick and Elizabeth Dugan who left Ireland for Pennsylvania also in the 1850’s.  Their grandson Joseph, born in 1897, was known in baseball as Jumping Joe Dugan.  This was because of his star performances as third baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees between 1917 and 1931.  He appeared in five World Series.
Canada.  The Duggans had come to York (now Toronto) from Cork soon after the town had been founded in the 1790’s.  George Duggan started out there as a carpenter and progressed to coroner and budding politician.  His nephew George, who arrived around 1820 with his parents, followed his uncle into politics and later became a judge.

George’s son Thomas was a surgeon, his other son John a lawyer.  John’s son Herrick Duggan was a prominent Canadian engineer – a builder of bridges and a designer of yachts – who was killed in a motor accident.

.  Michael Duggan, aged twenty, left Ireland for Argentina in 1848 to seek his fortune.  He started out as a wool broker for Irish sheep farmers and ended up with his brothers John and Thomas as wealthy land developers.

The line from Alfredo, a son of Thomas, led back across the Atlantic to London where Alfredo was appointed an
attaché at the Argentine embassy in 1905.  He and his wife Grace, who was later to marry George Curzon (a former Viceroy of India), were the parents of two sons Alfred and Hubert who mixed with English high society during the 1930’s:
  • Alfred became a historian, archaeologist and best-selling historical novelist in the 1950’s.
  • while Hubert was a politician, serving as the MP for Acton from 1931 until his death in 1943.
Australia.  Robert Duggan had come with his family from Ireland to Sydney on the Marquis Cornwallis in 1796 and joined the NSW Corps as a soldier.  He gained a fearsome reputation as a flogger of prisoners.  Later the roles were reversed and he was flogged during the Irish uprising at Castle Hill in 1804.

Among later Dugans and Duggans in Australia were:
  • John and Jane Dugan, Protestants from Mayo, who came to Sydney on the Argyle in 1839.  John was a pioneer farmer at Minorie Falls along the Macquarie river.
  • and Jeremiah Duggan and his family from Cork who arrived in Tasmania as bounty immigrants on the Sir W.F Williams in 1857.  One son Jeremiah died in a bicycle accident on the island in 1905; another son Timothy lived until 1940.
Select Duggan Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Duggan Names

Sean Mor O’Dubhagain, aka John O’Dugan, was a 14th century Irish bard from Galway.
Michael Duggan
emigrated from Ireland to Argentina in 1848 and amassed a fortune in land development there.
Alfred Duggan
was a historian, archaeologist and best-selling historical novelist in England during the 1950’s.
Sean Duggan
from Galway is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish hurlers in the history of the game

Select Duggans Today
  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 19,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania) 
  • 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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