Higgins History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

There are many Irish surnames being used today in forms that are quite different than their original, ancient forms. Higgins originally appeared in Gaelic as "O huigin," which is derived from the word "uiging," which is akin to the Norse word "viking."

Early Origins of the Higgins family

The surname Higgins was first found in County Sligo (Irish: Sligeach), in the province of Connacht in Northwestern Ireland, where they held a family seat from ancient times. This distinguished Irish Clann was a branch of the O'Neills, said to descend from a grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the 4th century High King of Ireland and founder of the Uí Neill Clan.

Early History of the Higgins family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Higgins research. Another 144 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1315, 1501, 1595, 1720, 1490, 1490, 1578, 1659, 1624, 1691, 1659, 1661, 1679, 1670, 1735, 1720, 1801, 1796 and 1818 are included under the topic Early Higgins History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Higgins Spelling Variations

People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Higgins that are preserved in archival documents are Higgins, Higgin, O'Higgin, Higgans, Higgens and many more.

Early Notables of the Higgins family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Sean mac Fergail Óicc Ó hUiccinn (died 1490) an Irish poet, Chief Ollam of Ireland (?-1490.) Shean Duff O'Higgins was Lord of Ballynary, Sligo; Theophilus Higgons (c.1578-1659), was an English divine and convert to Catholicism; Sir Thomas Higgons (c 1624-1691), was an English diplomat and politician, Member of Parliament for Malmesbury in 1659, and...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Higgins Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Higgins migration to the United States +

Ireland became inhospitable for many native Irish families in the 19th centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For these immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have documented the arrival of various people bearing the name Higgins to North America:

Higgins Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Elizabeth Higgins, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [1]
  • Abraham Higgins, who landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1637 [1]
  • Georg Higgins, who landed in Virginia in 1639 [1]
  • Richard Higgins, who landed in Maryland in 1649 [1]
  • Francis Higgins, who arrived in Virginia in 1651 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Higgins Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles Higgins, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [1]
  • Timo Higgins, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [1]
  • Walter Higgins, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [1]
  • Norah Higgins, who arrived in Virginia in 1706 [1]
  • Alexander Higgins, aged 18, who arrived in New England in 1724 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Higgins Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edward Higgins, aged 27, who arrived in New York in 1800 [1]
  • William Higgins, who arrived in New York in 1804 [1]
  • Terrence Higgins, who landed in America in 1804 [1]
  • Nicholas Higgins, who landed in America in 1811 [1]
  • Bernard Higgins, aged 21, who arrived in Tennessee in 1812 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Higgins migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Higgins Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Higgins, who settled in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1751 [2]
  • Elizabeth Higgins, who settled in Harbour Grace in 1774
  • Mr. Benjamin Higgins U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 358 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [3]
  • Mrs. Phebe Higgins U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 479 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York [3]
  • Mr. Abraham Higgins U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [3]
Higgins Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mich Higgins, who landed in Canada in 1811
  • Michael Higgins, who settled in Fogo, Newfoundland in 1824 [2]
  • Bennett Higgins, who landed in Canada in 1830
  • Bernard Higgins, aged 23, who landed in Quebec in 1833
  • Jeremiah Higgins, aged 36, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Pallas" from Cork, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Higgins migration to Australia +

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

Higgins Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Edmund Higgins, English convict from Oxford, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • George Higgins, English convict from Kent, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. Samuel Higgins, English convict who was convicted in Hereford, Herefordshire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Joseph Higgins, English convict from Lincoln, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • James Higgins, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Higgins 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:

Higgins Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Higgins, aged 35, a sawyer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifford" in 1842
  • Mary Ann Higgins, aged 38, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifford" in 1842
  • Mary Higgins, aged 6, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifford" in 1842
  • Matthew Higgins, aged 7 mths., who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifford" in 1842
  • Peter Higgins, aged 36, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mary Ann" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Higgins (post 1700) +

  • Thomas John Higgins (1944-2018), American rock climber noted for his free climbing style
  • Laurence Higgins (1928-2016), British-born, American Roman Catholic priest, chaplain for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Johnnie Lee Higgins (b. 1983), American NFL football wide receiver
  • Edward Haydn "Eddie" Higgins (1932-2009), American jazz pianist, composer and orchestrator
  • Steve Higgins (b. 1963), American writer and comedian
  • Andrew Jackson Higgins (1886-1952), American businessman, founder and owner of Higgins Industries who built over 20,000 Higgins boats, landing crafts used extensively in amphibious landings in World War II
  • Brigadier-General Gerald Joseph Higgins (1909-1996), American Deputy Commanding General 4th Division (1949-1950) [8]
  • George G. Higgins (1916-2002), renowned labor activist and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Marguerite Higgins (1920-1966), American reporter and war correspondent and the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize (1951) for international reporting
  • George Higgins (1939-1999), American novelist
  • ... (Another 15 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Dorsetshire
  • Stan Higgins, British aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [9]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Douglas Ewart Higgins, British Marine, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [10]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Louis Higgins, British Gunnery Instructor, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [11]
  • Mr. Lewis C Higgins, British Leading Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [11]
HMS Royal Oak
  • P. Higgins, British Petty Officer with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [12]
  • John Irving Higgins (1917-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [12]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. John Higgins, English Scullery man from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [13]


The Higgins 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: Pro patria
Motto Translation: For my country


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  3. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/ann/1809
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Agamemnon voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1820 with 179 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agamemnon/1820
  7. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Adamant voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1821 with 144 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/adamant/1821
  8. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, March 12) Gerald Higgins. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Higgins/Gerald_Joseph/USA.html
  9. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  10. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  11. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  12. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  13. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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