Murphy Surname Genealogy

A Gaelic raider took the title of
“sea raider” in 1070 for his maritime explioits while king of
Leinster.  Sea raider in Gaelic is Murchadh, composed of muir meaning “sea”
and cath meaning
Grandchildren and subsequent generations took on the name O’Murchadha.  The spelling of
the name eventually evolved to the more phonetic O’Murchu.
The hard “ch” sound could be pronounced in some dialects as an “h” or an “f.” These regional variations gave rise to the modern English-type McMorrough and Murphy surnames that arrived in the 17th century.
Select Murphy Resources on The Internet

Ireland.  Not all Murphys
share the same ancestors, as there were several distinct Murphy septs
that emerged in each of the four Irish provinces, Ulster, Leinster,
Munster, and Connacht:

  • Ulster.
    A MacMurchadhas clan held sway in Inishowen (Donegal)
    until they were displaced by the O’Donnells.  They moved first to
    Tyrone but then, finding resistance from the O’Neill clan, they settled
    south Armagh where large numbers of Murphys are still to be found
  • Leinster.
    Murchadh was the forebear in the 11th century of the Murphys in
      His grandson, known today as Dermot
    McMorrough, had the
    dubious distinction of inviting the Normans into Ireland. They did
    later, however, contend the English presence.  These Leinster
    McMorroughs were concentrated in Wexford but later lost their lands and
    scattered.  The majority chose to anglicize their name to Murphy
    (although their chief holds to the older O’Morchoe name today).
  • Munster.
    The largest group of Munster Murphys traced their origins to the
    Muscraighe who inhabited a large area of western Cork.  There were
    other Murphys in Cork, Clare, and Limerick.
  • Connacht.
    There was less of a Murphy presence in Connacht.  Even so, there
    were some Murphy clusters in Sligo.

Irish census listed 62,000 Murphys.  It
the Murphy name scattered throughout Ireland, but most prominent
number one) in Wexford and Carlow.

last leader of the Murphy clan in Wexford, Connall O’Murchoe, had died
at Castle
Ellis in Ballaghkeen barony in 1634.
There followed Murphy land confiscations during Cromwell’s
time.  But Murphys from Wexford rose in revolt in the Rebellion of
1798.  Fathers John and Michael Murphy,
unrelated, were among the leaders of the United Irishmen.
Father Michael was killed during the skirmishes,
Father John
, later commemorated in song, was hanged by the English.

There were also many Murphys in
Cork.  In 1825 James Murphy and his brothers founded the firm of
Murphy and Company, whiskey distillers.  After various mergers
over the
years, the company became Irish Distillers. 
Murphy’s Irish Stout,
founded in
1856, is still going strong under its original name.  

Today, because of emigration, there are more Murphys outside Ireland
than in Ireland.

and Scotland
.  There were Murphys in 18th century London,
such as Arthur Murphy, the actor and writer from Roscommon, and John
Murphy, the engraver from Cork.  But the main influx came later
and more into the industrial towns in the north.  The 1881 census
showed the
largest numbers to be in Liverpool

Murphy, a laborer, and his wife Ann were early
arrivals in Liverpool.  Their sons
Richard and Andrew were baptized
1803 and
the newly-built Irish Catholic
church of St. Anthony’s in Liverpool.

James Murphy, a bricklayer, and Mary Quirk were married in the same
church in 1833.

America.  Some of the early Murphys in America appear
to have been Scots Irish:

  • Alexander
    Murphey who came to Pennsylvania from Ulster in
    the 1730’s.  These Murphys later settled
    in North Carolina.  Archibald Murphy,
    known as the father of North Carolina’s public schools, was a prominent
    there in the early 19th century.
  • and
    Murdoch Murphy, a Presbyterian minister from
    Scotland, who came to North Carolina sometime in the 1750’s.  His grandson John Murphy became Alabama’s
    fourth Governor in 1825.

uncertain origin was William Murphy who was
in Spotsylvania, Virginia by 1730.  His
two sons William and Joseph were famous Baptist preachers in their day.  William moved to Tennessee in 1780.  A later Murphy, Captain Dubart Murphy, was a
contemporary of Sam Houston and an early settler in Texas.

Among the Irish Murphys who arrived in the 18th century were:

  • Hugh
    Murphy who came from Dublin in the 1760’s and
    started a paper manufacturing operation in
    Pittsburgh.  His son Isaac migrated south
    to Arkansas and, having voted against secession in 1861, rather
    unexpectedly became the
    Governor of the state in 1864.
  • and Timothy Murphy who came in 1769 and settled in New
    Jersey.  His grandson Henry C. Murphy was at various times Mayor
    Brooklyn, owner of the Brooklyn Eagle
    newspaper, and early
    backer of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Murphy Sr. was originally from county Wexford.
In 1844 he took his Catholic family west,
seeking freedom from the religious constraints of the Old World.  Together with nine other families, the
Murphys set off on a crossing of the American continent to California.
They were the first party ever to cross the Sierra Nevada in a
wagon and the first to bring oxen across the plains.
Martin’s son Martin Murphy Jr.
was the founder of what is now Sunnyvale,
California and he became a very large landowner in the area.

Murphy’s Law, a term best described as having
the meaning “anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” seems to have
had its
origin with a certain Edward Murphy who worked at the Wright-Patterson
Force base in Ohio in the 1950’s.

South America.  John Murphy
joined other Irish emigrants from Wexford who embarked
for Argentina in 1844.  He prospered and his two brothers William
Patrick followed him.  Murphy became the name of a railway
junction and
then a town in Santa Fe province.  The Murphy name has continued
Lopez Murphy, a prominent present-day economist and politician

Murphy Miscellany

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

Murphy Names

the sea raider, was the forebear of the Murphy septs.
Dermot MacMorrough was the
Irish leader who invited the Normans into Ireland in the 12th century.
Father John Murphy was one of
the leaders of the 1798 Irish Rebellion.
Patrick Murphy, born in county
Down in 1832, rose to be eight feet one inch tall and was the tallest
man in Europe at that time.
William Martin Murphy founded
the Irish Independent
newspaper in 1905.
Eddie Murphy is the African
American comedian and actor.

Select Murphys Today

  • 106,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 120,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 168,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

Murphy is the #1 ranked surname in Ireland.




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