The illustrious surname MacHgan finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England
known as Cornwall
. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England
, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames
were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal
System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal
territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic
names, the Cornish predominantly used local
surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People
at the time that surnames first came into use. Local
surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name MacHgan is a local type of surname and the MacHgan family lived in the village of Mawgan in Cornwall. The surname MacHgan is a habitation
name that was originally derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. The surname originated as a means of identifying individuals from a particular area. In the Middle Ages people often assumed the name of the place that they originally lived as their surname during the course of travel.
Early Origins of the MacHgan family
The surname MacHgan was first found in Cornwall
at St. Mawgan in Pydar or Mawgan. St. Mawgan claims its name from Mawgan, a Brythonic saint who flourished in the 5th or 6th century. Little is known about the saint and many believe that the saint is one in the same as Meugan who was listed as a saint about the same time in Wales
. As far as the place name is concerned, the earliest record of the place was as "Sanctus Mawan" in the Domesday Book
of 1086. CITATION[CLOSE]
Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
St Mawgan Monastery was an ancient monastery located here and was known to have been well established by the time of the Conquest. Mawgan-in-Meneage is a civil parish also found in Cornwall.
Early History of the MacHgan family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacHgan research.Another 129 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacHgan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacHgan Spelling Variations
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations
. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England
, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations
often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall
and the rest of England
. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic
language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Maugham, Maughan, Mawgam and others.
Early Notables of the MacHgan family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early MacHgan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacHgan family to the New World and Oceana
An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name MacHgan: Daniel, George, Peter, William and William Maughan who all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860; Peter Maughen arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1848..