Recorded as Higgan, Higgen, and the more usual Higgin, and the popular patronymic Higgins, this is an English or sometimes Irish surname. If English it is a medieval diminutive nickname form of the popular first name Richard, deriving from the pre 7th century Old German name "Ricard", a compound of the elements "ric", meaning power, and "hard", brave or strong, it was popularized in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. "Richard" (without surname) appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, and the subsequent popularity of the name gave rise to a variety of iminutive forms including: Dick(in), Hick(in) and Higg(in). Early examples include Hekyn de Wath and Hygyn de Bowland in the Poll Tax returns of Yorkshire in 1379. The surname is particularly well recorded in Lancashire, with for example on October 19th 1547, John Higgin, who was christened at Ulverstone. The name in some circumstances can be of medieval Irish origin, from the Old Gaelic O'hUigin, meaning the descendant of the "Sea- Rover". Originating as a branch of the southern O'Neills, the O'hUigin sept spread westwards to County Sligo where they held large estates. Anne Higgan was recorded at the church of St Mary le Strand in London on September 15th 1788 and Michale Higgin, aged 30, who embarked from Liverpool on the ship "Ashburton" on February 26th 1847, was recorded on the List of the Irish Famine Immigrants arriving at the Port of New York, 1846 - 1851. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Hygyn. This was dated 1377, in the Assize Court Rolls of Essex, during the reign of King Edward 111rd of England, 1327 - 1377. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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