This interesting surname is of medieval Irish origin, and is an unusual Anglicized form of either of two Old Gaelic sept names: "O'Croidheagain" of Connacht and "O'Croidheain" of County Donegal (with a branch in County Sligo). The Gaelic prefix "O" indicated "grandson, male descendant of", and the personal bynames "Croidheagain" and "Croidheain" derive from "croidhe", heart, used as a term of endearment. The former sept name is usually Anglicized as Cregan in Sligo, and as Creegan in north Connacht (Leitrim and Roscommon); the latter name is usually rendered (O) Crean, Creaghan and Crehan in English, but Cregan (and its variants) is now indistinguishable from the latter group. The O'Croidheain sept of County Donegal are of the Cenel Eoghain, that is, belonging to that group of people descended from Eoghan, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. They are twice mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters as wealthy merchants in Donegal (1506), and in Sligo (1572). The Clongowes manuscript "The State of Ireland in 1598" mentions the O'Creans of Annagh as one of the leading families of County Sligo. In 1796, a daughter, Mary, was born to Cornelius Creegan, at Shanmullagh, County Longford. Mary, daughter of Richard Cregin, was christened at Eastleach Turville, Gloucestershire, on April 6th 1794, and on December 10th 1810, the marriage of Mary Creggen to David Woodbaridge took place at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O'Crean, which was dated 1506, in the "Annals of the Four Masters", during the reign of King Henry V11 of England, known as "Henry Tudor", 1485 - 1509. 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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