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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish Doherty family come from? What is the Irish Doherty family crest and coat of arms? When did the Doherty family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Doherty family history?

The original Gaelic versions of today's Irish names demonstrate a proud, ancient past. The original Gaelic form of the name Doherty is O Dochartaigh, from the word "dochartach," which means hurtful or obstructive and in this case, it would be termed as a nickname.


The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Doherty revealed spelling variations, including Dockeray, Dockerty, Dockharty, Dogherty, Dougharty, Dougherty, Doherty, Doherety, Dohertey, Docherty, Docharty, MacDevitt and many more.

First found in at Inishowen, in the barony of Raphoe, in County Donegal, where they were a large and influential sept, and were kin to the O'Donnells. They were one of the principal Irish clans to resist the Norman invasion of 1170 and were known as the Lords of Innishowen directly descended from the distinguished Irish General King Niall of the Nine Hostages, who was descended from the Heremon line of Irish Kings. The MacDevitts, who exist in large numbers in Inishowen, are descended from David O'Doherty, a chief of Cinel Conaill who was killed in 1208. Some members of the MacDevitt branch migrated to the territory of Oriel, now counties Louth, Monaghan, and south Down. There the "D" was aspirated creating the early Anglicization MacCaveat, and then the variation MacKevitt. Expanding their territory, they came to rule the peninsula of Inishowen in the 14th century. However, the poorly-timed and disastrous rebellion led by Sir Cahir O'Dougherty in 1608, drastically reduced the power of the once powerful sept.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Doherty research. Another 269 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1208, 1783, 1587, 1608, 1608, 1783 and 1850 are included under the topic Early Doherty History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 33 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Doherty Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the Doherty name:

Doherty Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Michael Doherty, who arrived in New England in 1777

Doherty Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Hugh, Doherty Jr., aged 16, landed in New York, NY in 1804
  • Elinor Doherty, aged 19, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • George Doherty, aged 21, landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1804
  • Jas Doherty, aged 28, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • H Doherty, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812


  • John Kenneth Doherty (1905-1996), American Olympic decathlete
  • John Joseph Doherty (1919-1942), American Navy officer awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Shannen Maria Doherty (b. 1971), American actress, producer, author and television director
  • Edward J. "Eddie" Doherty (1890-1975), American newspaper reporter, best-selling author, Oscar-nominated screenwriter
  • Edward Paul Doherty (1840-1897), American Civil War officer who formed and led the detachment of soldiers that captured and killed John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of United States President Abraham Lincoln
  • Gary Michael Thomas Doherty (b. 1980), Irish footballer
  • John Doherty (1900-1980), Irish folk fiddler
  • Ken Doherty (b. 1969), Irish professional snooker player, only player ever to have been World Amateur (1989) and World Professional Champion (1997)
  • Matt Doherty (b. 1992), Irish footballer
  • Mr. William John Doherty (d. 1912), (aka "James Moran"), aged 22, Irish Third Class passenger from Cork who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking



The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ar Ndutcas
Motto Translation: Our heritage


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  1. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  2. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  4. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  5. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  6. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  8. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  9. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  10. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  11. ...

The Doherty Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Doherty Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 29 September 2014 at 17:06.

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