Of all the Irish surnames, none has more variations of spelling than this one. In the most recent census it is said that there are only about fifteen hundred nameholders, who between them have over twenty different ways of spelling the name! This would not be so bad if there could be an consensus of agreement on what the name actually means, but there isnt. Many Irish or Gaelic names are patronymic, and this is one of them, and it is probable that the suffix Giugan is a nickname, and probably a development of a Norse-Viking personal name such as 'Uig'.It is not generally known that the Viking conquered most of Ireland before they started on England, and their influence in regard to surname origins is still strong in the North east of Ireland. In this case the sept of the MacGuigan originates from County Tyrone, and the majority of nameholders whether spelt MacGuigan, McGuigan, McGurgan, McGoogan, MacWiggan, Wigan, Pidgeon, Fidgeon, and others, come from this county. In 1690 Hugh Magwygin was attainted as a supporter of the exiled King James 11nd, after the defeat at the Boyne, whilst Willam MacGuckin, who was also the baron of Slane, 1837-1868, was famous in Victorian times for his exploration of the Orient. In 1950 Cardinal MacGuigan was appointed Archbishop of Toronto, Canada, whilst Barry McGuigan held the world light weight boxing championship. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Conor MacGugyne, which was dated 1602, a follower of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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