Gorman Surname Genealogy

The Irish name is Mac Gormain, derived from the Gaelic gorm meanng “dark blue” or possibly
“noble.”  Early Celtic warfare entailed painting the face or body
to intimidate the enemy.  It is conjectured that Mac Gormain
warriors might have picked up this nomenclature in battle and it was
handed down to their offspring.  Under English rule this surname
became Gorman.

Gorman is an interesting example of a surname which, having lost its
Gaelic prefix under English rule, put back the wrong one, O’Gorman,
after the restoration of national consciousness.  The person
probably responsible for the “O” for “Mac” was Tomas Chevalier
O’Gorman, an exiled vineyard owner in France in the 18th century.

Gorman Resources on

Gorman Ancestry

The Mac Gormains were originally a sept established in Meath and in
Margy in
the southeast corner of present-day Laios, although they were driven
from here to Clare and Monaghan
by the Anglo-Norman incursions of the late 12th century.

of the family to settle in Munster was Murtagh, son of
Donogh, who died there in 1124.  The chiefs of the family held
lands in Ibrickan and Moyarta in county Clare that was under the
control of the O’Briens, the Princes of Thomond.  A
branch of the family acted as hereditary marshall for the O’Briens.  In the 15th century the Mac Gormains of
Ibrickan were known for their wealth,
hospitality, and patronage of Gaelic poets.

1484 Donald Mac Gormain of Ibrickan died, one of O’Brien’s servants of
trust.  He kept a house of general hospitality and was the richest
man in Ireland in livestock.”

Many Mac Gormains lost
their lands in Meath

in the 16th century
and many in Clare
suffered the same indignities at the time of Cromwell.  Denis
Mac Gormain, captain of the confederate armies in Clare, was captured
executed by Cromwell’s forces in 1652.  Gormans did remain in
Clare during the penal years and later some Gormans migrated east into

France.  Thomas Gorman of
Inchiquin in Clare was one of the “wild geese” who fled Ireland for
France in the early 1700’s.  He settled in Burgundy.  His
grandson Tomas Chevalier O’Gorman owned vineyards in Burgundy, promoted
the O’Gorman name back in Clare, but lost everything during the French
Revolution.  He returned to Ireland where he died in 1810.

South America.  Miguel
O’Gorman from Ennis in county Clare had studied medicine in Spain and
practiced as a physician at the Spanish Court.  This status and
position made him popular with the elite at Spain’s River Plate
colony when he arrived there in 1777.  The O’Gormans remained
well-connected in
post-colonial Argentina.  But this did not prevent the tragic death
of the young Camila O’Gorman
, shot by a military firing
squad, occurring in 1848.

O’Gorman was appointed the first British consul
to Mexico City in 1826.  Charles and his
Mexican wife Anita returned to the Britain with their eldest son John,
who married his Mexican cousin and went back to Mexico.  Charles’s
grandson Cecil was a mining engineer and painter who arrived in Mexico
in 1895.  His two sons distinguished themselves in Mexico, Juan as
an architect and Edmundo as a writer and historian.

America.  The
first Gorman in America may well have been John Gorman, recorded among
the Scots
Irish settlers in Augusta county, Virginia in 1748.
He was next in Botetourt county and descendants
moved to Ohio and Missouri.  Another early
Gorman was Christopher Gorman,
found in Lunenburg and Pittsylvania counties, Virginia in the 1750’s
and 1760’s.  Simpson Gorman, born in South
Carolina in
1805, migrated to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and finally to
Arkansas.  From him, it is thought, came
the Bradley
county Gormans in  Mississippi.

Later Gormans in America from Ireland included:

  • John Gorman who came around 1794 and settled in Harrisburg,
    Pennsylvania where he engaged in the cattle trade.   His
    grandson Arthur Pue Gorman was one of the early developers of the game of baseball
    and later served for more than twenty years as the US
    Senator from Maryland.
  • David and Elizabeth Gorman who arrived sometime later and settled
    in Kentucky.  Elizabeth died in the cholera epidemic of
    1833.  Their son Willis fought in the war against Mexico and went
    on to be Governor of Minnesota and a Union general during the Civil War.
  • and Richard
    , an Irish nationalist who faced the death penalty
    in 1848, escaped to America, and became a High Court Judge in New York.

married Catherine Power in Prospect, Nova Scotia in
1829.  Gormans from Dromore in county Tyrone were recorded in St.
John, New Brunswick by the 1830’s. 

the son of Irish
immigrants Thomas and Ann Gorman from Kilkenny, was born in Prince
Island, Canada in 1846.  He was a
wandering laborer throughout his life, first in New Brunswick and then
the border in Maine, but is best remembered for the songs he composed,
often of
a satirical nature, which he brought with him on his travels.

Richard and Mary Gorman came to Ottawa via
Quebec in the 1860’s.  Another Mary
Gorman was the mother of the great sports promoter Tommy Gorman, born
in Ottawa
in 1886 (his father had died soon after the birth).
The house on Euclid Avenue where she raised him stayed with the
family until 1971.

Gorman Miscellany

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

Gorman Names

Maelmuire Mac Gormain
Abbot of Knock and he composed the Calendar of Marianus in 1171.
New Brunswick and known
as “the human dynamo.”  He was a North American speed skating star
of the
Tommy Gorman
was well-known in Canada as
a sports and entertainment promoter.  He
was a founder of the National Hockey League and managed seven clubs to
Cup Championships between the 1920’s and 1940’s.

Select Gormans Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lanarkshire)
  • 12,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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