Recorded in several spellings including O' Durnin, O' Dornan, Durnan, Durnian, Durnion, Durnin, and Durning, this surname is usually of Irish origins. If so it is a derivative of the pre 10th century Old Gaelic name O'Duirnin, meaning the male descendant of the strong-fisted one, from "dorn", meaning fist. Most Irish surnames originate from a nickname for the first chield or nameholder of the clan or sept, and this is a good example. The clan are particulary associated with County Donegal, in the far west of the country. The O'Duirnin sept also recorded as O' Dornan and the short forms without the O' prefix, belong to the province of Ulster where the name is perpetuated in the placename Ballydurnian, in County Antrim, whilst Durnion is the more usual form in Counties Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal. The various Durning's mentioned in 16th Century Ulster records as being exchequer officials and army officers, are probably of English origin, and possibly from places called Durn, Durn or Dorning in England. Examples of the surname recording include the marriage of Daniel Durning to Catherine Rortey at Donegal in 1816, whilst on March 30 1846, Michael Durnin, sailed from Liverpool on the ship Shakespeare, bound for New York. An early recording of the English spelling is that of Allice Durning. This was dated May 12th 1553, at Croston, in Lancashire during the reign of King Edward V1 of England, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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