Murtagh 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 Murtagh is O Muircheartaigh, which is derived from the word "muircheartach," which means "navigator."

Early Origins of the Murtagh family

The surname Murtagh 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 Murtagh family

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

Murtagh Spelling Variations

Irish names recorded during the Middle Ages are characterized by many spelling variations. This preponderance of variations for common names can be explained by the fact that the scribes and church officials that kept records during that period individually decided how to capture one's name. These recorders primarily based their decisions on how the name was pronounced or what it meant. Research into the name Murtagh revealed many variations, including Moriarty, O'Moriarty, Murtagh, Murtag, McMoriarty and many more.

Early Notables of the Murtagh family (pre 1700)

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

Murtagh Ranking

In the United States, the name Murtagh is the 13,449th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]


United States Murtagh migration to the United States +

Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the Murtagh family name:

Murtagh Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Murtagh, who landed in New York, NY in 1817 [3]
  • Thomas B Murtagh, who arrived in New York, NY in 1832 [3]
  • Murtagh, aged 25, who immigrated to America from Ireland, in 1892
Murtagh Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Andrew Murtagh, aged 10, who settled in America from Kiltimagh, in 1901
  • Brgt. Murtagh, aged 18, who immigrated to the United States from Roscommon, in 1903
  • Andrew Murtagh, aged 16, who landed in America from Athlone, Ireland, in 1907
  • Bernard Murtagh, aged 24, who landed in America from Ballymore, Ireland, in 1908
  • Annie Murtagh, aged 15, who immigrated to the United States from Dundalk, Ireland, in 1910
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Murtagh migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Murtagh Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Bridget Murtagh, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Breeze" from Dublin, Ireland
  • Mrs. Ellen Murtagh, aged 46 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Perseverance" departing from the port of Dublin, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle on 22nd May 1847 [4]
  • Mrs. Ellen Murtagh, aged 50 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Perseverance" departing from the port of Dublin, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle on 20th May 1847 [4]
  • Miss. Margaret Murtagh, aged 5 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Perseverance" departing from the port of Dublin, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in June 1847 [4]
  • Mr. Patrick Murtagh, aged 27 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Scotland" departing 13th April 1847 from Cork, Ireland; the ship arrived on 8th June 1847 but he died on board [5]

Australia Murtagh migration to Australia +

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

Murtagh Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Darby Murtagh, Irish convict who was convicted in Mayo, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Miss Rosa Murtagh, (b. 1788), aged 30, Irish servant who was convicted in Meath, Ireland for 7 years for house robbery, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" on 26th July 1818, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1825 [7]
  • Mr. Andrew Murtagh, (Minter, Minta), (b. 1787), aged 30, Irish labourer who was convicted in Kildare, Ireland for 7 years for house breaking, transported aboard the "Chapman" on 25th May 1817, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1828 [8]
  • Mr. William Murtagh, British Convict who was convicted in Bermuda for 10 years, transported aboard the "Canton" on 20th September 1839, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Margaret Murtagh, aged 25, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Telegraph"

New Zealand Murtagh 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:

Murtagh Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Anne Murtagh, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Triumph" in 1883
  • Jane Murtagh, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Triumph" in 1883

Contemporary Notables of the name Murtagh (post 1700) +

  • Kate Murtagh (b. 1920), American actress, known for her roles in Farewell, My Lovely (1975) and The Car (1977), model for SuperTramps' Breakfast In America (1979) album cover
  • John M. Murtagh, American Republican politician, Candidate for New York State Senate 35th District, 2008 [10]
  • John M. Murtagh, American politician, Justice of New York Supreme Court 1st District, 1968 [10]
  • James P. Murtagh, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Michigan State Senate 1st District, 1904, 1906 [10]
  • J. C. Murtagh, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1912 [10]
  • E. J. Murtagh, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1912 [10]
  • C. B. Murtagh, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1920; Member of Iowa Democratic State Central Committee, 1949 [10]
  • Elaine Murtagh (b. 1940), Irish singer, songwriter and a member of The Avons
  • Conall Murtagh (b. 1985), Northern Irish footballer
  • Johnny Murtagh (b. 1970), award-winning Irish flat racing jockey
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Matthew Murtagh, British Bedroom Steward from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland (1914) and survived the sinking [11]
  • Mr. William Joseph Murtagh (d. 1914), British Bell Boy from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [11]
HMS Dorsetshire
  • Thomas Patrick Murtagh (d. 1945), British Able Seaman aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [12]


  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 49)
  5. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 91)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/elizabeth
  8. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 20th January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/chapman)
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canton
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 17) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  11. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  12. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html


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