Of all the multitudinous 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 MacGuigans originates from County Tyrone, and the majority of nameholders whether spelt McGuigan, McGuckin, Gavigan, Geoghegan, Maguigan, MacGoogan, MacWiggan, Wigan, Pidgeon and Fidgeon, come from this county and the adjoining Antrim. In 1690 Hugh Magwygin was attainted as a supporter of the exiled King James 11, 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, and in 1950 Cardinal MacGuigan was appointed Archbishop of Toronto, Canada. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Conor MacGugyne, which was dated 1602. He was a follower of the famous if illfated, Hugh Roe O'Donnell.
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