Recorded as O' Fegan, O' Feehan, Feehan, Fegan and others, this is an Irish medieval surname. It is said to be originally from West Cork, but it would seem that if this was so by the Middle ages the members were to be found mainly in Kilkenny and Tipperary. The Gaelic spelling is O' Faodhagain, from the personal name Faodhagain, and the translation the male descendant of the son of the hunter. If so the name may be a Gaelic version of the surname Hunt or Hunter, of Anglo-Norman origin and introduced into Ireland after the Conquest of the country in 1170 by Strongbow, earl of Pembroke. However there may be a different origin altogether as it is claimed that many bearers of the name are descended from a Patrick Fagan, who owned estates in County Meath in the 12th century. According to tradition, he assumed the name Fagan on the command of King John of England, for reasons which are unclear. For many centuries Fagan was associated with Counties Dublin and Meath, whilst a branch of the family were also found in Cork city, where Christopher Fagan took refuge in 1497. He had been a supporter of Perkin Warbeck's claim to the throne of England, and Cork was solidly behind the pretender. Amongst the recordings of the surname are Phillip O' Fethan who was convicted of robbery in County Tipperary in 1359, and Teag MacNicholas O' Feehan who in 1601 was granted pardon after professing loyalty to the English crown. The surname has never been common, and in 1855 about fifty householders of the name were recorded in County Tipperary. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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