Show ContentsMartha History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While many Irish names are familiar, their past incarnations are often shrouded in mystery, reflecting the ancient Gaelic heritage of their bearers. The original Gaelic form of the name Martha is O Muircheartaigh, which is derived from the word "muircheartach," which means "navigator."

Early Origins of the Martha family

The surname Martha was first found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province.

"The name Moriarty is now largely represented in County Kerry, in which county the O'Moriartys were Chiefs in the Barony of Dunkerron." [1]

The fictional Professor James Moriarty in some of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was based on Doyle's discussions with a Scotland Yard inspector and his knowledge of Adam Worth (1844-1902), the German-born American criminal mastermind.

Early History of the Martha family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Martha research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1714 are included under the topic Early Martha History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Martha Spelling Variations

Official documents, crafted by early scribes and church officials, primarily contained names that were spelled according to their pronunciation. This lead to the problem of one name being recorded under several different variations, creating an illusion that a single person was many people. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Martha that are preserved in the archival documents of the time are Moriarty, O'Moriarty, Murtagh, Murtag, McMoriarty and many more.

Early Notables of the Martha family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Martha Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Martha migration to the United States +

Irish families fled the English-colonized Ireland in record numbers during the 19th century for North America. Many of those destitute families died from disease during, and even shortly after, the long journey. Although those that immigrated before the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s often were granted a tract of land, those that arrived later were generally accommodated in urban centers or in work camps. Those in the urban centers would labor in the manufacturing sector, whereas those in work camps would to build critical infrastructures such as bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Regardless of when these Irish immigrants came to North America, they were critical for the rapid development of the young nations of the United States and Canada. Early immigration and passenger lists have recorded many early immigrants bearing the name of Martha:

Martha Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Jacob Martha, aged 31, who landed in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Marcus Martha, who arrived in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Marge Martha, who landed in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Marie Martha, aged 4, who arrived in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Anna Martha, aged 25, who landed in New York in 1854 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Martha migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Martha Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Martha U.E. who settled in Home District [York County], Ontario c. 1784 [3]

Australia Martha migration to Australia +

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

Martha Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Sarah Martha, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Bruce" in 1846 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Martha (post 1700) +

  • John Paul Martha (1942-2023), American NFL football safety who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1964–1969) and the Denver Broncos (1970)
  • Alfeu Martha de Freitas (b. 1936), Brazilian football player
  • Alcindo Martha de Freitas (b. 1945), Brazilian football player
  • Mary Martha Sherwood (1775-1851), English authoress, born at Stanford, Worcestershire, the elder daughter and second child of George Butt
  • Lucinda Martha Ruh (b. 1979), Swiss national figure skating champion
  • Alice Martha Bacon (1909-1993), Baroness Bacon, British Labor Party politician
  • Dana Martha Camp (b. 1952), American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1972 [5]
  • Martha Raye (born Margaret Teresa Yvonne Reed) (1916-1994), American comic actress, standards singer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Martha Graham (1894-1991), American dancer, choreographer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Martha Hackett (b. 1961), American actress. Known for her portrayal of Seska in thirteen episodes of the television series Star Trek: Voyager

  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. 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 Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LADY BRUCE 1846. Retrieved from
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook