Doherty History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Doherty family

The surname Doherty was 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 against the English crown led by Sir Cahir O'Dougherty in 1608, drastically reduced the power of the once powerful sept.

"The O'Doghertys were a powerful Sept in County Donegal, and were located in Inishowen Barony, of which O'Dogherty was Lord. The Doghertys or Dohertys are numerously represented there at the present time." [1]

Early History of the Doherty family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Doherty research. Another 61 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1783, 1587, 1608, 1608, 1677 and 1755 are included under the topic Early Doherty History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Doherty Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Doherty family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family name at this time was Sir Cahir O'Dougherty (1587-1608), leader of the rebellion in 1608, the last Gaelic Lord of Inishowen. Angered by the confiscation of his lands for the Plantation of Ulster, he sacked and burned the town of Derry and killed the Governor, Sir George Paulet. He had quarreled with Paulet for some time and some claim that Paulet had assaulted him. The real reason for the...
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Doherty Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Doherty migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 18th Century
  • Michael Doherty, who arrived in New England in 1777 [2]
Doherty Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Hugh, Doherty Jr., aged 16, who landed in New York, NY in 1804 [2]
  • Elinor Doherty, aged 19, who arrived in New York, NY in 1804 [2]
  • George Doherty, aged 21, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1804 [2]
  • James Doherty, aged 28, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804 [2]
  • H Doherty, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Doherty migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Doherty Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • George Doherty from County Wexford, was married in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1797 [3]
Doherty Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Doherty, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1820
  • Daniel Doherty, who landed in Canada in 1823
  • Edward Doherty, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • John Doherty, who landed in Canada in 1823
  • Jude Doherty, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Doherty Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • William J Doherty, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Doherty migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Doherty Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr.Owen Doherty, (b. 1792), aged 27, Irish farm labourer who was convicted in Westmeath, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Bencoolen" on 24th April 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia before being transferred to Tasmania via the "Admiral Cockburn" [4]
  • John Doherty, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dauntless" in 1840 [5]
  • John Doherty, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Britannia" in 1846 [6]
  • Honora Doherty, aged 16, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Elgin" in 1849 [7]
  • Honora Doherty, aged 16, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Elgin" [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Doherty migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Doherty Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. J. Doherty, British settler travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th March 1858 [8]
  • Miss Ann Doherty, (b. 1839), aged 22, Irish house servant, from County Donegal travelling from London aboard the ship "Royal Stuart" arriving in Lyttlelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th October 1861 [9]
  • Miss Bridget Doherty, (b. 1841), aged 20, Irish house servant, from County Donegal travelling from London aboard the ship "Royal Stuart" arriving in Lyttlelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th October 1861 [9]
  • Miss Susan Doherty, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship " Lancashire Witch" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 13th October 1863 [8]
  • Miss Susan Doherty, (b. 1845), aged 20, British needlewoman travelling from London aboard the ship "Eastern Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 4th January 1865 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Doherty (post 1700) +

  • Barbara Doherty (1931-2020), American educator and theologian, a Roman Catholic religious sister, member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods
  • 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
  • Edward J. "Eddie" Doherty (1890-1975), American newspaper reporter, best-selling author, Oscar-nominated screenwriter
  • Shannen Maria Doherty (b. 1971), American actress, producer, author and television director
  • John Joseph Doherty (1919-1942), American Navy officer awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
  • John Kenneth Doherty (1905-1996), American Olympic decathlete
  • Brian Doherty (b. 1958), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 2004, 2008 (alternate) [10]
  • Arthur T. Doherty, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1996 [10]
  • Anne Marie Doherty, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from North Carolina, 2008 [10]
  • Alfred James Doherty Jr. (1889-1956), American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1932 [10]
  • ... (Another 69 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • 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 [11]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. John A. Doherty, American Chief Gunner's Mate working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [12]
  • Mr. George Walter Doherty, American Seaman Second Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [12]
  • Mr. John Albert Doherty, American Machinist's Mate Second Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [12]


The Doherty Motto +

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


  1. ^ Matheson, Robert E., Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numeric Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution. Dublin: Alexander Thom & Co., 1894. Print
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bencoolen
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) DAUNTLESS 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840Dauntless.htm
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BRITANNIA 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846Britannia.htm
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ELGIN 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Elgin.htm
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 9) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  11. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  12. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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