Family names in Lurgan

by P. Creery



Review

Journal of Craigavon Historical Society

Vol. 1 No. 1

Recently we have seen the creation of the New City, Craigavon, in our midst, and with it, the nucleus of a large industrial complex. Inevitably there has been, and will be in the future, an influx to the area of people from all over the province, and from England as well. Most of these people will remain and settle here. Their families will grow up and marry; and in a comparatively short time a large number of new family names will be added to those already native to the district. Obviously this process of assimilation and change has been taking place in a natural manner since the 17th century, due to the normal political, economic, and industrial evolution that makes up the history of any country, but the pace was gradual and leisurely.

The New City, however, is a planned development. Now before the effects of Craigavon can be felt, it is opportunity to study the existing family names of Lurgan, to record and tabulate them with a view to try and trace them back to the plantation period.

In order to do this, the 1967 Register of Electoral Polling District 46 (Borough of Lurgan) was used. What was required was an analysis of the names it contained, in order to discover the most common names in the area, so that they could be compared with the native Irish names, and the name of the plantation period.

The method used was as follows:- Each name beginning with the letter A was recorded separately. They were then arranged alphabetically, and numbered with the frequency of occurrence. The names beginning with B were similarly treated, and so on through the alphabet. The total results were assembled in book form, so that any name could be readily found, as well as the frequency with which it occurs.

It should be stated that the figures were based strictly on the electoral register, and did not take into account any error, typographical or otherwise, which may have been included. (From personal knowledge the register is not 100% accurate, either in number, or in the spelling of names.) Neither did the figures take into account obvious corruptions of any names. For example, there are 74 entries for O'Neill, 35 for Neill and 17 for McNeill, but these have all been recorded as seperate names.

The results show that there are 1,307 different names listed in the register. Five names have more than 100 entries. These are:-

LAVERY176
McCONVILLE171
McCANN162
THOMPSON120
WILSON103

Other common names (with number of entries) are:

HAMILTON92
CAMPBELL89
MITCHELL88
HEANEY87
McALINDEN87
McCULLOUGH87
JOHNSTON79
McGEOWN79
DORAN78
MAGEE77
LENNON74
O'NEILL74
McDONALD72
TURKINGTON70
BROWN67
CARSON65
HANNA64
LYNESS64
HAUGHEY62
McCORRY60
McKERR60
PATTERSON59
LEATHAM59
GRACEY58
BELL57
MAGILL56
BAXTER55
BURNS55
MCMAHON54
MARTIN53
ROBINSON53
CREANEY52
TOMAN52
STEWART51
ANDERSON50
BRADY50
MAXWELL50
SMITH50

Other names, not quite so common (i.e.with 20 - 49 entries in the register) were also recorded, but have not been given here.

Although most of the research was concentrated on an analysis of the electoral register, some information with regard to old names was studied, although much more research is still needed.

It is interesting to note "An extract taken from a brief survey of the present of the Plantations in the Counties of Armagh & Tyrone taken by Lord Caulfield, Sr. Dudley Diggs, Sr. Nathaniall Rich, Knts; Anno Dni, 1622.'' in which mention is made of Lurgan as being "a good village consisting of 40 houses inhabited with English Tenants on both sides of the streete, in which a good windmill stands."

In leases dated about 1624, we find such Irish names as Owen O'Neale, Shane McAlinden, Murtagh McAtananey, Donnell McCawhelly, and, naturally, the inevitable McCanns. After the Williamite wars of 1689-91, we find that these Irish tenants were replaced by English tenants with names like Wilson, Turkington, Irwin, Patterson, Dynes and Robbs

This survey of the register is, of course, a first step only. it is felt that other member , of the society could add greatly to this information by carrying out projects of their own One obvious project is the compilation of one or more family trees of families who can trace their forebears back to the plantation times in Lurgan Information like this could, and should, be an asset to the society.