Show ContentsGavigan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Many variations of the name Gavigan have evolved since the time of its initial creation. In Gaelic it appeared as O Gaibhtheachain, which is derived from the word "gaibhtheach," which means "anxious."

Early Origins of the Gavigan family

The surname Gavigan was first found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Gavigan, Gavin, or Gavahan surname is derived from the Irish Chieftain Gabhadhan who was descended from King Colla da Crioch, one of the three Colla Kings who ruled Ireland and died about 360 A.D.

Interestingly, early Cornish records listed reference to some of the family in the parish of St. Hilary, Cornwall. "Prior to the days of Elizabeth, the barton of Treveneage belonged to an ancient family called Gaverigan, from whom it passed during that reign, with a co-heiress to the Godolphins." [1]

Early History of the Gavigan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gavigan research. Another 76 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1689, 1640, 1679 and 1929 are included under the topic Early Gavigan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gavigan Spelling Variations

Those scribes in Ireland during the Middle Ages recorded names as they sounded. Consequently, in this era many people were recorded under different spellings each time their name was written down. Research on the Gavigan family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including Gavigan, Gavin, Gavihan, Gavahan, Gavan, Gavagain, Gavagan, Gaven, Gavin, Gavighan and many more.

Early Notables of the Gavigan family (pre 1700)

Another 39 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gavigan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gavigan migration to the United States +

During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the Gavigan family in North America:

Gavigan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Charles Gavigan, aged 19, who landed in America from Derry, Ireland, in 1907
  • Fanny Gavigan, aged 55, who settled in America from Ballyshannon, Ireland, in 1908
  • Hugh Gavigan, aged 61, who immigrated to the United States from Ballyshannon, Ireland, in 1908
  • Annie Gavigan, aged 21, who immigrated to the United States from Aclare, Ireland, in 1913
  • James Jos Gavigan, aged 27, who landed in America from Roscommon, Ireland, in 1914
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Gavigan (post 1700) +

  • Bart Gavigan, American director, writer and producer, known for his work on Luther (2003), End of the Spear (2005), and The Film-Maker's Son (2013)
  • John Gavigan, American actor, known for his work on Envy (2004)
  • Jenna Gavigan, American actress, known for her role in A Single Man (2009), Kinsey (2004) and The Good Wife (2012)
  • William J. Gavigan, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 12th District, 1881-83 [2]
  • Martin Gavigan, Irish former Gaelic footballer
  • Gerry Gavigan, American film director, known for his work on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Troy (2004) and Die Another Day (2002)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Bernard Gavigan (d. 1914), British Assistant Steward from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [3]

  1. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  2. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 3) . Retrieved from
  3. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from on Facebook