Friday 22 November 2013

Surnames in the County of Down (pt 2)


Considering how many surnames there are in this county, it is natural to suppose that some will present strange, or interesting, or illustrative varieties. One of the commonest is that in which changes of vowels occur, either in accordance with local peculiarities of speech, or merely from caprice. On the former ground we have Rabbe and Robb, Larimer and Lorimer; Taggartf and Teggart; Harveyg and Hervey; and, probably, we must ascribe to mere caprice, Abernathy, Nisbet, Nisbitt, Nesbett; and Arskine for Erskine. In other instances, the lengthening or shortening of a vowel requires an alteration in the consonants, when the word is written; but the principle is the same. Thus, Clelland, Cleland; Dorian, Dorrian; Magorian, Magorrian. Sometimes the spelling is varied to the eye, but the sound is identical to the ear; as Boal, Bole; Ray, Rea, Colquhoun, Cahoon, Cahoone; Waddle, Waddell.

A very common change in a surname is the addition of a plural termination by the vulgar, as Laws, Hopes, Mathers, Humes, Humphress (Humphry), Stotharts (Stoddart), Grimes (Graham), Dodds, Burns (Byrne), Barns (Baring), Sevens (Sefton), O'Briens.

The modes of abbreviation are sometimes very peculiar. One of the commonest is to omit the prefix Mac or O, and thus we have such names as 'Crory, 'Connell, 'Hagan, 'Keating, 'Kee, 'Keown, 'Kinney, 'Millen, 'Mullen, 'Neill, &c. Another very usual plan is to shorten the word to the extent of a syllable, by omitting a vowel or consonant; as Ste(v)enson, Shiel(d)s, Gar(de)ner, Titter(ing)ton, Pol(loc)k; Madole, for MacDowell, Greer, for MacGregor, Pender, for Prendergast.h

There is often a vulgar form of a surname which is never written, the correct form being used only on rare occasions. Thus, Buttonit (Arbuthnot), Kimmins (Cumming), Kinnigam (Cunningham), Bruertoni (Brereton), Frazure (Frisell), Haskiss (Hesketh), Skendritch (Scandrett), Merriday (Meredith), M'Elshender (Alexander.)

Sometimes the consonants of cognate origin are interchanged. Thus, by an indiscriminate use of two liquids, in names originally distinct, Torneyj and Torley become the same; so, also, Mulligank and Milliken; Lydiate and Liggart, or Legate; McQuiggan and McGuiggan.

In the barony of Mourne, the name Cunnigan is found; it is very distinct in its origin and use from Cunningham, with which it is often confounded. Megraw is given here separately from McGrath, but, in reality, the two names are one. Muckle and Meikle are Scotch forms of the English Mutch and Mudge; Little is common to both countries, probably in some instances altered from Liddell. McCaw is sometimes changed into McKay, as Make and Mack are into Malcom; but they appear to be distinct names. Uprichard (for Ap-Richard) is a singular instance of the Welsh settlers retaining the uncontracted form, though, on their native hills, the name usually takes the form Pritchard. Edgarl is vulgarly pronounced Agar, and some branches of the clan spell the name so, or Eager. It is pleasing to find that the ancient name of Magennis is abundant in both Iveagh and Locale, the old territory of the family; that Savages and Whites are still pretty numerous in Ards; and that Bagnall is not extinct in Newry. Hamilton prevails nearly all over the county.

There are several families of Saxon descent, whose names are commemorated in the names of townlands, villages, &c.; so that though they may not appear upon the present map they are well known in the topography of the district. Without entering into an explanation of the individual names, the following may be enumerated: Sea-Forde, Castle Ward, Acrem-McCricket, Isle-McCricket, Island-Henry, Jordan's-Acre, Jordan's-Crew, Dodd's-Island, Island-Teggart, Reilly's-Trench, Gilford, Hill-hall, Mount-Stewart, Echlin-ville, Mount-Alexander, Russell's-Quarter.

The term "town," is affixed on very slight grounds. Two families of the same name residing near each other, on a public road, might give such names as Briggs's-town, Hendry's-town, Megaghy's-town; and three would certainly do so. Among the many names of this kind we have the more formal ones of Carson's, Coniam's, Cook's, Greg's, Herd's, Hogg's, Marshall's, Priests', Slone's, Thomas's, Waring' s, and Whigham's towns. Of all these names, Carson and Sloane, in italics, are the only ones which appear on our map. More than half these places are in Ards, and three of them in the parish of Donaghadee.

Long before the settlement of Ulster, it was customary to name a place by appending the owner's name to the prefix "Bally." The Saxon settlers adopted the same plan, partly from analogy, and partly as a matter of necessity; for, as a general rule, except in countries newly discovered or explored, it is unquestionable that "the common people fix all our names of places." Omitting the prefix "Bally," and selecting only those names which occur on the map, there are townlands called Bally Adam, 'Black, 'Henry, 'Kelly, 'Vick-na-Kelly, [the town of Kelly's son], 'Magee, 'Martin, 'McConnell, 'McCormick, McKeown, 'Murphy, 'Rogan, 'Roney, 'Russell, 'White. In no instance does the position of the local name now coincide with the same name as applied to persons. There are several other townlands named from families,n which do not appear on the map; and the prefix "Bally" occurs associated with them in like manner. Other prefixes are connected with family names; as Rath-Gorman, Rath-Cunningham, Rath-Mullan, Tully-Branigan, (the hill of B.) Lis-na-Mulligan, (the fort of M.) Tir-Fergus, (the land of F.) Tir-Kelly, Saul, (i.e. Sabhal Phadraig, the barn of Patrick.) Sometimes, without naming a family surname, a large denomination is indicated; as Craig-na-Sassanach, the rock (or rocky land) of the Saxons, in the parish of Saintfield; and Carn-Albanach,o the stone heap of the Highlanders.

An examination of the names of the townlands would lead us away too far from the present subject, and might also forestall a special paper by some learned Gaelic scholar. But it may be permitted to name a few in a note. Some proclaim a Saxonp ancestry; others, again, are obviously of Celticq origin.

There are large districts in Upper Iveagh and Mourne thinly inhabited; and even in the lowlands there are spots where the inhabitants are few. In the parish of Kilkeel, there are townlands embracing more than 11,000 acres, or about seventeen square miles, with only one inhabited house! In Kilbroney, there is an area of 5,000 acres, or nearly eight square miles, with only two families resident. In the whole county there are 184 townlands which have not more than ten inhabited houses in any of them; and there are 22 others which have none whatever. Of the former, the greatest number are in Ards [36], and Lecale [66.] Of the latter, the greatest number are in Upper Iveagh [8], Lecale [5], and Mourne [4.]

In contrast with this diffusiveness, instances of the close condensation of families are more numerous and curious than in Antrim. The name Carse appears on the map in the parish of Killinchy: and all the persons of this name in the barony reside in this parish. Moreover, they are all found in one townland, Carrigulliam. There are thirteen families of the name Morrow in the same barony, of whom six are found in Derry-boy of Killileagh. The McIlwaines are all in Dromara parish, and in that part of it which lies in Kinclarty. There are eleven families of the name Blaney in Lecale; and six of them are found not only in one parish (Dunsfort) but in one townland (Sheepland More.) There are twenty-two Thomsons in Kinclarty, and fourteen are in the part of Magheradrool which lies in that barony. Five out of seven of the name Jennings are found in Ballynacraig, in the parish of Inch; and six out of nine of the name Neil are in Wood-grange of Down. Half of the Dicksons are in Ballygorian More of Clonduff; nearly all the Hooks in Corbitt of Magherally; and about half of the Annetts of Mourne, in the townland of Ballyvea. As before, each name is placed in the parish, without any attempt to secure a more minute localisation.

These simple facts show, if we required any such proof, that the centrifugal tendency is not great among the agricultural classes. In several instances, by the appending of the terms "junior" and "senior," and by all the other Christian names differing, I think I can recognise a father and his five sons "(who, ten or fifteen years ago, were a single household,) claiming for their family surname an honourable place on our little map. But if we include not merely brothers, but cousins, there is no doubt that there are many such instances. If we take in second cousins, (viz., persons having had a common great-grandfather,) the name may rise to one of the second rank, still allowing for a reasonable proportion to sink below the level of our test, -- the parliamentary suffrage; or to be drained off for town population or colonists. If a father, with a growing family, had settled here so recently as 1780, he might be represented at this hour by his great-grandsons, sturdy farmers, of thirty years old, "be the same more or less." But, as the majority settled a generation or two earlier, we have a superabundant population not on the voting list, in the proportion of live households to one.

[It is a peculiarity of articles like the present that every one suggests half-a-dozen others; and the last paragraph reminds me that no attempt has yet been made to write the "Family History" of our northern counties. The materials for it exist, but are passing away. I propose, health and leisure permitting, to write one or two such articles, which may not only interest by the facts themselves, but, as in the present case, may serve to guide others in researches of a similar kind.]


As before, the figures in the columns of the Table show the baronies in which the names occur upon the map; and this Table should show the whole 440 occurrences of the 252 names. The figures I denotes a name of the first Class, or one printed in small capitals; and 2, 3, 4, indicate block type. Roman Letter, and Italics, respectively.

The number [--?--] [--?--] [--?--] [--?--] [--?--] [--?--] [--?--] [--?--] county : thus, there are 123 which take precedence of Adams, and 97 which precede Agnew. In the table referring to Antrim, five or six names sometimes amounted to the same general number, but their order was put down according to the alphabetical arrangement, A more correct plan is followed here, the nature of which will be apparent from the order for the two counties given above. Boyd, Campbell, and Patterson, are all ranked as ninth in order, that is to say, only eight numbers precede them; but the next following, [McKee] is twelfth, as there are eleven which precede it. It is in this way that the names are all numbered 109, and the next number is 119; five are equal at this grade, and the next is 124, &c. Each of the group which is lowest in order is numbered 232; and such of them as appear in Upper or Lower Iveagh, Lecale, or Ards, might have disappeared from the map had there been the usual number of fourteen baronies instead of ten.

I am encouraged to believe that I do not overvalue this subject, from the numerous favourable testimonies which have been recorded respecting it, during the past three months. But as yet, only the first stone has been laid. If we had a map of Ireland, showing from twenty to fifty leading names in each county, we should be able to track the Saxon from the channel to the ocean, in his accumulations by conquest, grant, intermarriage, or purchase. If the same thing were done for England, our populations would, as it were, photograph themselves in their respective positions; and the numerous local causes which give rise to peculiar appellations would be ascertained with unusual facility; just as in geographical terms one shire is celebrated for "Halls," another for "fields," another for "becks," &c.; and so the "Tre, Pol, and Pen," of Cornwall are only indications of a large class of facts. In Scotland, though famine, the sword, clearance, and emigration have all swept over the country, a map of this kind would put flesh upon the dry bones, and muster each clan on the spot which it claims as its own. Instead of the loose generalities of topographers and tourists, we should ascertain the facts with absolute certainty; and, from the association of places and persons, it is impossible to say how much light might be thrown upon family and general history on the one side, or on local etymologies on the other.

If we widen the horizon of our researches, and suppose this work done for the countries in the north and west of Europe, what limit can be placed to the knowledge which we should acquire of our neglected continental relations? The Du Bois [wood, a wood, or Atwood] would figure under the Anglican metamorphosis of Boys and Boyce; and Cordeaux would be traced in Cordukes, just as the French beaux is vulgarised into English "bucks." In like manner, in the Scandinavian districts of our islands, Truelove would be represented in its original form, "Troe lof," ["bound in law, or bondsman"] while the northern Olav would be found altered to MacOlav, MacAulif, and Macauley.

It is needless to pursue these reflections farther. Let me only request that those literary explorers who may have patience sufficient to travel in the same path, will remember that I have gone two stages of the journey with them. And, I can assure them, that my guidance, whether of little or of much value, has been given with laborious accuracy, and the most sincere good faith.


in the
124 Adams, 4 4
98 Agnew, 3 4
53 Allen, 4 4
26 Anderson, 3 4 2 4
232 Angus, 4
109 Annett, 1
232 Archer, 4
168 Armstrong, 4
62 Baillie 1
210 Baird, 4
198 Bassett, 3
92 Beattie, 3
142 Beck, 4
14 Bell, 4 1 1
98 Bennett, 2
109 Bingham, 2
80 Black, 2
73 Blakeley, 2 4
183 Blaney, 2
18 Boyd, 1 2 4 4 4
134 Boyle, 4
210 Byrne, 4
5 Brown, 1 3 3 1 1 2
62 Burns, 2
109 Burns, 2
12 Campbell, 2 4 4 2 2
98 Carlisle, 2
168 Carse, 4 4
39 Carson, 3 3 3
124 Caughey, 3
44 Chambers, 2 2 4
224 Clanny, 4
42 Clarke, 2 4
48 Cleland, 2 4
119 Connor, 4
124 Cooper, 4
161 Corbett, 4 4
168 Corran, 4
88 Coulter, 4
142 Cowan, 4
98 Craig, 4
109 Crangle, 3 3
39 Crawford, 2 2
124 Cromey, 2
189 Croskerry, 4
161 Crothers, 2
142 Cunnighan, 2
53 Cunningham, 4 4 4
232 Cupples, 4
67 Davison, 3
168 Dalzell, 4
88 Denvir, 1
71 Dixon, 2
183 Dodds, 3
124 Donnan, 2
142 Doran, 4
189 Dorrian, 3
142 Doyle, 2
98 Edgar, 4
210 Emerson, 4
183 English, 3
57 Erwin, 1 4
142 Fegan, 4
31 Ferguson, 4 1 4 3 4
80 Finlay, 2
46 Fitzpatrick, 1 4 4
30 Fitzsimmons, 1
142 Gardner, 3
17 Gibson, 3 2 1
210 Gilchrist, 7
161 Gill, 4
95 Gillespie, 2 4
67 Gilmore, 4 3
232 Glenny, 4
57 Gordon, 4 4
11 Graham, 1 1 3 9
189 Grant, 4
161 Green, 4
224 Gunning, 4
15 Hamilton, 4 3 1 3
28 Hanna, 3 2 2
109 Harper, 4
134 Harvey, 4
109 Harrison, 2
232 Harshaw, 4
161 Hawthorne, 4
80 Henry, 3
32 Heron, 2 2
168 Hinds, 2
210 Hook, 4
161 Hughes, 3
224 Hutchison,
161 Hutton, 4
189 Innis, 4
80 Irvine, 4
134 Jackson, 2
36 Jamieson, 2 2 2
224 Jardine, 4
95 Jennings, 4 4
8 Johnson, 2 3 2 4 2 4 2
142 Jones, 3
168 Jordan, 4
198 Kearney, 3
44 Kelly, 4 4 3 4
48 Kennedy, 4 3 4
161 Keown, 2
36 Kerr, 4 2 4
142 Killen, 2
183 King, 4
168 Kirk, 4
168 Kirkpatrick, 4
124 Knox, 2
161 Lavery, 4
161 Law, 4 4
198 Lawther, 4
198 Lennon, 4
189 Lilburn, 2
57 Lindsay, 4 2 3
232 Livingstone, 4
168 Lockhart, 3
210 Loughlin, 4
39 Lowry, 4 4 3
232 Macken, 4
20 Magee, 3 4 1
62 Magennis, 1 3
88 Magill, 2 3
168 Maglennon, 2
224 Magowan, 4
124 Magreevy, 2
198 Maguire, 3
119 Malcomson, 3 4
168 Marshall, 4
2 Martin, 2 1 1 1 1 2
183 Megraw, 2
124 Mercer, 1
124 Miller, 3
210 Mills, 4
88 Mitchell, 3
198 Moorhead, 4
4 Moore, 1 1 3 4 2 2 2 4
134 Moreland, 4
142 Morgan, 4
97 Morrison, 4 2
15 Morrow, 2 2 2 4
232 Muckle, 4
80 Mulligan, 4 2
142 Murdoch, 4
28 Murphy, 4 2
22 Murray, 3 3 1
95 McAlister, 3
134 McAulay, 3
73 McBride, 2
53 McCartney, 4 2
198 McCaw, 4
57 McClelland, 3 1
168 McClory, 2
92 McComb, 4 4
62 McConnell, 3 3
189 McConvey,
119 McConvill, 2
142 McCormick 4
22 McCullough, 2 2
168 McCracken, 4
98 McCutcheon, 2
98 McDonnell, 4
34 McDowell 4 2 4 4
161 McEvoy, 3
210 McGifford, 4
198 McGivern, 3
224 M'Gorrian, 4
67 M'Grath, 2 4 4
232 M'Grattan, 4 4 2
109 McIlroy,
183 McIlwaine, 4
224 M'Keag, 4
92 McKeating, 4 1
3 McKee, 1 2 1 3 1 1 4
109 McKeown, 2
80 McKibbin, 4 4
232 McKinney, 4
98 McKnight, 2
119 McMaster, 4
142 McMillen, 2
57 McMullan, 2 4 4
75 McMurray, 2
189 McNabb, 3
134 McRoberts, 4
210 Napier, 4
98 Neill, 3
88 Nelson, 2
142 Nesbitt, 4
168 Nicholson, 2
210 O'Hagan, 3
34 O'Hare, 1
109 O'Neill, 3
22 Orr, 2 1 4 3
7 Patterson, 2 3 1 4 1 4 2
62 Patton, 1 3
71 Porter, 2
51 Quin, 4 4
42 Ray, 3 4
232 Radcliffe, 4
210 Rankin, 4
32 Reib, 3 4 3
142 Robb, 2
13 Robinson, 2 2 2 2
80 Rodgers, 3
142 Rogan, 2
75 Rooney, 1 4
142 Rowan, 2
210 Rush, 4
26 Russell, 3 4 4 4 4
198 Rutherford, 3
168 Sands, 4 4
42 Savage, 3 4 4 3
232 Scandrett, 4
21 Scott, 2 1 3
161 Seed, 2
189 Shannon, 4
25 Shaw, 3 1 4 4
119 Skelly, 4 4
36 Sloane, 4 3 4
1 SMITH, 1 3 2 4 1 1 2 1 3
109 Spence, 4 4
142 Speers, 2
210 Stanfield, 4
210 Starkey, 3
75 Stevenson, 4 4
9 Stewart, 1 3 2 2 4 2
142 Taggert, 2
48 Taylor, 4 2
6 Thomson, 4 3 1 1 2 1
134 Todd, 2
124 Torley, 4 4
161 Trainor, 4
232 Uprichard, 4
98 Walker, 4
18 Wallace, 1 4 1
97 Walsh, 4
224 Warden, 4
161 Warnock, 2
189 Waterson, 4
46 Watson, 4 2
198 Waugh, 4
53 White, 3 4
198 Whiteside, 4
10 Wilson, 3 4 2 2 3 4
51 Woods, 3 2
67 Wright, 3 4
80 Young, 2

[e] Compare those with the provincialisms form for farm, and band for bond.

[f] Like bagger for beggar.

[g] Compare sergeant, Derby, Berkley, Hertford. 

[h] Compare this with the English Chumley for Cholmonde ey.[sic]

[i] This form occurs in the ancient records of Cheshire, which is the original seat of the name.

[j] Compare the provincial words "flannen" and "chimley."

[k] The interchange of g and k occurs provincially in braggot, for bracket, and shog for shock. Similarly from tabak (a native American word for pipe), came the Spanish Tobago, whence the English word tobacco.

[l] The four families (using the term family in a large sense) of Dunbar, Hume, Edgar, and Dundas, all trace their descent in an unbroken male line, from a common ancestor - Cospatrick, Earl of Northumberland, [-?-] William I. It should be borne in mind that surnames originated about the twelfth century. The record of the relationship is preserved to this hour in their armorial bearings; three of them having the same charge, but varying the tincture, and the fourth varying both slightly. See Drummond's History of the Noble British Families, and Douglas's Peerage, by [-?-]

[m] The term is here used in the general sense of an enclosure. Thus, our Saxon forefathers called the church-yard "God's acre" See Longfellow's Poems. "It does not appear that in ancient times, an acre signified any determinate quantity of land; and when, at length, it came to signify a specific quantity, the measure still varied, till it was fixed by the statute, called the Ordinance for Measuring of Land, passed in the reign of Edward I. The perch, or rod, however, with which land was measured, not being the same in all places, the acre, of course, still varied, as it does to to this day. In some instances in Cornwall, what is called an acre, is not less than a hundred statute acres! The Cheshire, the Lancashire [also, the Cunningham, the Irish Plantation], and the statute acre, consist of very different quantities." -- Boucher's Archean Glossary.(?)

[n] Bally Barnes, 'Branigan, 'Bryan, 'Copeland, 'Cullen, 'French, 'Garvigan, Gilbert, 'Lucas, 'MacNamee, 'Maginaghy, 'Megaughy, 'Macarnett, 'Macaratty, 'Maconoghy, 'Macateer, 'MacKeown, 'Minnish, 'Mullen, 'Nicol, 'Philip, 'Rickard, 'Ridley, 'Stokes, 'Walter, 'Ward, 'William.

[o] There are two townlands of this name in the parish of Moira, of the extent of about twenty-three and twelve acres respectively. Neither of them has any resident population.

[p] Killinchy-in-the-woods, Narrow-water, Quarterland, Grey Abbey, White Abbey, White Church, Fish Quarter, Broom Q., Nuns' Q , Church Q., Spittle Q , Saul-Q, Q. Bailee, New Castle, Trooper-field, Holy-wood, Bishop's-Court, (in Ards formerly the episcopal residence.) Strang-ford, Sheep-land, Green-castle, the Strand (popularly the Sthron', at Killough.)

[q] Coolsallagh (the wood of osiers), Ballysallagh (the place of the willows, or osiers), Knock-na-goney (the hill of the rabbits), Billy-knock (the town of the hill), Knock-breckan (the fern hill.) The parish of Knock, in Lower Castlereagh, was united with the parish of Breda, in Upper, forming the present parish of Knock-Breda. [Between the rivers Senegal and Gambia, in Western Africa, lies Sene-Gambia showing a similar union of names,] Tully-na-kill (the hill of the church), Tullyard (the high hill), Tullymore (the great hill) Tullylish (the hill of the fort), Lisduff (the black hill), and Lis-na-brague, Lis-na-gade, Li-na-Gonnell, and Lis-na-Tierney, all in the parish of Aghaderg. -- Ardglass (the green height). Derry boy (the yellow oak wood), Derry oge (the young oak wood), Ross (the promontory), Ross-glass (the green promontory), Ross-connor (Connor's promontory), Slieve-na-griddle (the mountain of the sun, exhibiting traces of idolatrous worship at its summit), Inch (the island, from its situation in reference to the Quoile river). Bally-kinler (the town of the candlestick, certain endowments from it having provided candles for the high altar in one of the two cathedrals of Dublin), and Glass-mass, in Cumber (green field.) The Holywell-station, on the Chester and Holyhead railway, is called "Greenfield," by the English, and "Ma(c?)s-Glass," by the Welsh.

The above article is reproduced from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. 6, 1858.

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