Doherty Surname Genealogy

The Irish O’Doherty is an anlgicized form of the Old Gaelic O’Dochartaigh, descendant of Dochartach a personal byname having
the rather strange meaning of “destroyer.” Doherty and
are used today. The spellings O’Doherty and
Doherty are to be found in Ireland today,
Docherty in Scotland, and Dougherty and Daugherty in America.
Doherty Resources on

Doherty Ancestry

The Dohertys were an Irish sept that originated in the barony of Raphoe
in county Donegal on the west coast of Ireland. By the 14th
century the O’Dochartaigh chiefs had extended their territory till they
became the lords
of Inishowen
(Inis Eoghain) on the Inishowen
Peninsula. Their line
started with Donal Mori O’Dochartaigh, born
at Buncrana around 1387. In 1540 they
reached agreement with the English that the O’Dochartaigh would not
cross the river
Foyle if the British would stay out of Inishowen.   
The power of the O’Dohertys was
greatly reduced following the ill-timed rebellion of 1608 against the
English, led by Sir
Cahir O’Doherty.
“After having been insulted by the
Governor of Derry Sir Cahir O’Doherty rallied his troops, marched
south, and sacked Derry. The Governor of Derry paid for his
insult with his life. But then Cahir was forced to withdraw and
some months later he was killed.”

Sir Cahir’s
sister Rosa had already departed Ireland in 1607 in the Flight of the
Earls. She was the only clan member who
was able to
make this escape.

O’Doherty’s Buncrana castle on Inishowen was taken and occupied by the
English and the O’Dohertys lost their lands. In 1790 the
remaining O’Doherty descendants departed for Spain. Other
Dohertys were also departing – to
Scotland or to England or further afield to America.

Today there are Doherty families in many parts of Ireland. But the main
concentration remains Donegal
and the vicinity of
Derry. Dohertys have been
prominent in recent years in the IRA.


and Scotland
. The Docherty spelling took root in
Scotland. Dochertys in Scotland were mainly to be found in and
around Glasgow. In Lancashire the spelling was Doherty or
Docherty or sometimes Dougherty.

America has Dohertys, Doughertys, and Daughertys. The Daughertys
appear to have been the early arrivals, coming before 1800; the
Doughertys after 1800.

James Daugherty from Donegal, for instance, came
to Virginia in the 1780’s. His grandson
Hiram, in search of plentiful land, moved to Pike county, Kentucky in
1830’s. A Daugherty family had settled
in Beaver county, Pennsylvania in the 1790’s.
Edward Black Daugherty of this family, later a prominent jurist,
his name to the Daugherty township there.
Meanwhile Charles Dougherty was a Georgia militia captain in the
his son Charles another distinguished jurist after whom Dougherty
county in
Georgia was named

Other spellings to be found in America have been
Darity, Daughtry and Daughtrey, mainly in the South.

Protestant Doughertys
and Catholic Dohertys came to Canada in the first half of the 19th

  • various Doughertys, believed
    Protestant from county Down, came to New Brunswick and settled in
    Woodstock in
    Carleton county, starting in 1822.
    his wife Sarah and five children, arrived
    there in 1839.
  • Denis
    and Bridget Doherty from Donegal came to Quebec around the year 1830
    settled in the Irish Catholic community of North Onslow.
    They moved to Niles, Ohio with most of their
    family in 1864.
  • various Doherty
    families from Ballyporeen parish in Tipperary came to the Irish
    settlement at
    Gores Landing in Marion county, Ontario in 1847.
    were listed as indigent families arriving
    at the height of the famine.

  • while John
    and his family came in 1849 from Antrim, also escaping
    the potato famine, and settled in the Ottawa valley.

Australia and New Zealand. Dougherty and Doherty also
to Australia.

The most interesting
Dougherty was George Dougherty, born in Fermanagh and a member of the
Enniskillen Dragoons in his younger years.
However, he deserted his post on several occasions and was
finally, in
1849, court martialed and transported to Australia.

After gaining his freedom there six years
later, George settled in Singleton, NSW where he became engaged in
lengthy land
disputes, all the more troublesome because he himself was illiterate. Finally in 1887 he won his case.
However, he was old and bedridden by this
time and had not long to savor his victory.

Kevin O’Doherty from Dublin, a
member of the Young Ireland party, was arrested on political grounds in
and transported to Australia. He was
later pardoned, studied medicine, moved to Brisbane, and became one of
leading medical practitioners. He died
there in 1905. his wife
and a daughter surviv
ing him. A fund
was raised by public subscription to
provide for his widow Mary Anne, a poet
of Irish
patriotic verse

Daniel Dougherty, a Catholic born in New
Orleans in 1804 when it was still under French rule, became a whaler
and ended
up with his family in 1838 in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. They eventually settled in Wellington where
Daniel became a pilot master. His wife
Sarah and daughter Ellen, who became a nurse, survived him.

Doherty Miscellany

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

Doherty Names

Sir Cahir O’Doherty led the ill-timed rebellion of 1608 against
the Governor of Derry and paid for it with his life..
John Doherty
from Buncrana in
county Donegal was a trade union activist and factory reformer in early
19th century Manchester.
Eddie Doherty was a renowned
American newspaper reporter of the 1920’s and 30’s. He and his
third wife Catherine started the Madonna House Apostolate in Canada in
John Doherty, born in Donegal
into a travelling clan, was a highly acclaimed Irish folk
fiddler. He was mainly active from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.
Tommy Docherty, known as “the
Doc,” was a well-known Scottish footballer and football manager.
Moya Doherty is the co-founder
of the theatrical phenomenon Riverdance.

Select Doherty Today

  • 38,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Belfast)
  • 36,000 in America (most numerous in Massachusetts)
  • 37,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)



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