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
today. Duggan predominates, except in
America where there are more Dugans.
Dougan is Scottish or Scots Irish.

Duggan Resources on

Duggan Ancestry

Ireland. The 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.

Cork. 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
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
parish and townland of Caherduggan in that area. Duggans date from the
1700’s in the barony of Duhallow and were landowners at Kilmeen a
century or so

Galway. Another sept of the same
name was to be found
in the Ui Maine area of east Galway and south Roscommon. They may have
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’
for which he was tried and acquitted.

Wexford. The original Irish name here was
O’Duibhghinn. The genealogy of the
Wexford Duggans became a matter of considerable interest in the early
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.
in 1944 a nephew, then aged 72 and originally from Rosslare, inherited
million pounds.

Ulster. 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.

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

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.

America. 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
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

Dugan had been born in Maryland in 1773 and his brother George some two
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
    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
  • Martin and Mary Dugan from Tipperary who came to
    Michigan sometime in the 1850’s and later settled in Crawford county,
    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

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

Argentina. Michael
, aged twenty, left Ireland for Argentina in 1848 to seek
fortune. He started out as a wool broker
for Irish sheep farmers and ended up with his brothers John and Thomas
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
India), were the parents of two sons Alfred and Hubert who mixed with
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
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

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
    1857. One son Jeremiah died in a bicycle
    accident on the island in 1905; another son Timothy lived until 1940

Duggan Miscellany

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

Duggan Names

Sean Mor O’Dubhagain,
aka John O’Dugan, was a 14th century Irish bard from Galway.
Michael Duggan
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.
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)




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