The McCaughans of Scotland and Ireland by
John Alexander McCaughan
The baronial and dynastic family of McCaughan
derived its lineage from the indigenous nobility (nobiles majores) of the ancient Kingdom
of Galloway, through Eachain, the progenitor of the MacEachains. Eachain, a prince of the
Pictish race of Scotland and Dal-n-Araidhe in the Counties of Antrim and Down, Ireland,
was the son of Iriel Glumore, the twenty-third King of Ulster and his wife Locetna, the
daughter of Eochy, King of the Picts in Alban, now Scotland.
Dal-n-Araidhe, or as it is now commonly recorded Dalaraidhe, was the last Pictish Kingdom
in Ireland. Geographically, Dalaraidhe extended northward from the base line drawn through
Carlingford Lough and the town of Newry in County Down, with the Bann River to Lough Neagh
and west, and the Irish Sea and North Channel on the east, and the Glenavel River on the
As the name implies, this part of Ireland was named after Araidhe, King of the Picts (Rex
Piotorum) who was slain about 248 A.D. by the Heremonians or Scots as they advanced north
into Dalriada, the next kingdom north and from whence they, or their representatives,
passed over into the, now Kingdom of Scotland.
The tribal name is still represented in the ancient territory of Dalaraidhe by the place
named Ivahagh, in County Down, the Gaelic name of which is Uibb Eachach, pronounced
Ivahagh, but now contracted to Ivagh. There are many more places in this area that contain
the Gaelic tribal word or name EACH which is record in English as AUGH. However, each case
where the word is used in a place name must be judged on its own merits as to meaning, for
it would not be quite correct to imply that the word Each has the same significance in all
instances for it is governed by its prefix or suffix. Eachain in itself is in reality a
tribial designation, which is derived from the middle Gaelic name Eachuinn and anciently
Eqo-donno-s, meaning the Horse Lord, or more properly translated, the Lord or Chief of the
Horse Tribe; the horse, in Gaelic Each, being the totem of their tribe. The custom of a
tribal totem stems from very early when most Celtic tribes took a noted animal, fish or
fowl as their totem (hereditary emblem) which, in many instances, as in that of McCaughan,
became the surname of the leading family of the tribe.
The following are a few of the other Celtic families who evidently took their surname from
their totem animal, fish or fowl:
Totem name in Gaelic
The Whelp (Dog)
The Little Horse
Before the introduction of
surnames, which began in the eleventh century, tribal designations existed from very early
times in the Celtic world, and some designations continued from generation to generation,
eventually becoming the Christian name of the eponymous or historic founder of the family.
In these instances where the tribal designation did continue, the (Gaelic) family name
formed by prefixing Mac or 0 to the genitive case of the name.
The MacEachems, another noble Celtic family closely related to the McCaughans in name, and
perhaps anciently in blood, have a surname to which the writers also give many grounds for
its beginning. This surname is also derived from a tribal designation and in my opinion,
the sponymous of this family was Eachtgern, the King of Dalaraidhe in Ulster, A.D. 1014.
According to the published genealogy of the McKelie of Galloway, Scotland, their ancestor
Lochlan MacCarill, heir apparent of Ulster, was defeated in battle at Ardagh in County
Antrim, and fled to Carrick in Ayrshire where his lands were named Cairlton, meaning the
abode of Cairil. His descendent, Matain Cairil, is number seven on the list of witnesses
to the 1185 charter of lands to the Monks at Melrose.
The custom of how and why tribal names developed is fully explained by Dr. George Black in
his "The Surnames of Scotland," (New York, 1979 edition), where he also states
"that none of the ancient Celtic family names are derived from a trade or occupation,
a fact which would clearly indicate that industry or trade was not their forte." This
national characteristic is still prossessed by their descendents who excel as soldiers,
lawyers, politicians, churchmen, policemen, judges and vocations of this type. Strange as
it may seem for those remote times, no two tribes or families had the same totem or family
The animal, fish, plant, object or fowl chosen by the tribe as a totem was usually noted
for its speed, ferocity, sagacity, healing power or other outstanding characteristic.
Before the advent of Christianity the tribal totem was treated with superstitious respect
as the symbol of an intimate and mysterious relationship.
In A.D. 247 Eachain led his tribe, and along with other Ulster Picts, "swarmed across
the north channel (which separated Ireland from Scotland) into Galloway, and either
dispossed, exterminated or absorbed the Novantee", who sparsely occupied the district
Eachain seemingly established his Duthus, or home, on the lands running eastward from the
north-east side of Glenluce Bay, which in time got the family name "An Duthaig
MacEachain", which was his seat at Duncruithne, "the Picts Castle".
A vestage of this early occupancy by the family was retained up to 1500. The place in this
general area that still bears the family name is Barmagachan, in the Parish of Borgue,
Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland. This latter baroney was conveyed by deed dated 15 August
1511, to one Peter Muir, Esquire, father-in-law to Gilbert McLellan, forebear to the
McLellans of Ballymaclellen, Kirkcudbright.
In about 843, these settlers in Galloway were formidable enough to assist Kenneth
MacAlpine retain his throne as King of Picts and its sect; King Bride VI (MacBargoit)
being the last wholly Pictish King to sit on the throne of Scotland. Because of their
valor in battle and devotion to his cause, King Kenneth conferred on them, the honor of
leading the right flank of the Scottish army in battle.
This exalted and exposed position on the right of the battle line was maintained by these
fighting men in all battles for several hundred years, for we read in Scottish history
that in the Battle of Standard, fought in 1138, "the place in the van of battle was
occupied and rightfully claimed by the kilted Picts of Galloway. Kilted is the pleat
skirted 'Leine-Chroich' or saffron Skirt evidently the forerunner of the tartan
In 1174, these Galloway Picts were again in battle as they endeavored to stem the Norman
barons' encroachment by charter on their allodially held lands.
The family name McCaughan (pronounched Me Cachan in the old lands; as Me Cawhan in the
Americans) is found variously recorded in public and private documents since the eleventh
century, and with C, K, and G, of which C predominates, and is the Anglicized phoenetic
rendering of their Gaelic surname MacEachain, meaning the "son of Eachain".
Before the twelfth century, the family had branched out and spread over into the Kingdom
of Man, where because of the early mention of the name in the Manx Chronicles and place
names, some etymologist refer to it as a Celtic patronymic of purely native origin. Here,
their surname is again variously spelt and often with a K, also since 1611, some branches
have dropped the prefix Mc entirely, but their descendents on going to Ireland shortly
thereafter, resumed in time the use of both C and the Mc. Only after 1455, and with the
downfall of their cousins, the last independent and Celtic Lords of Galloway, is their
family name found in public documents pertaining to other parts of the realm.
The genealogy of this family has not to date been fully researched and documented,
consequently, the names of the fourteen chiefs (Eachain, Aedh or Hugh, Fergus, Donald,
Angus, Aedh, Conall, Neachain, Eachain Mor, Alexander, Malcom and Kenneth who succeeded
Eachain I), are main set traditionally in their respective positons. Gillechrist is
considered the sixteenth lineal and first historical chief of the name and family:
Gillechrist McCaughan, Dominus Ejusdem, whose successors are also designated as of
Glenluce, County of Wigton, Scotland, is recorded in some early charters as Gillenchrist
MeCachan, the form or pronouncing our surname that is still used in the old land. The
MacEachain Mor and sixteenth chief of the name and family was a baron of Scotland, with
all power to hold court and exact tribute in this territory, which was evidently extended
eastward from Glenluce Bay, in Wigtownshire, with his ancestral seat at Rathcahan
(Ratheachan), within the said barony. In his time, the Kingdom of Galloway was subjected
in 1160 to the crown of Scotland, and as early public Scottish documents disclose, he,
along with other Lairds of like ilk, witnessed several charters of land in the
Principality of Galloway, during the reign of King William the Lion (1165-1214).
One of the early land charters witnessed by McCaughan is dated late in 1100, and is a
conveyance of lands in Carrick (Galloway) to the Monks at Melrose Abbey. The document
contains the following:
"I, Duncan, son of Gilbert, son of Fergus, Count of Carrick... (then goes on to
describe the particular land in the grant, and concludes with a list of the witnesses to
Joceline, Bishop of Glasgow, and the Church of Glasgow,
Earl Duncan and Nalcolm his son and heir.
William de Moreville, Constable of Scotland.
Gillechrist MeCachan (McCaughan),
John, son of William Recherus.
Metain MacCarill (MacCarroll).
Edgar MacMurchan, Chamberlain to the Earl.
Achostduf and Even, his brother.
Sir Andrew Agnew, in his excellent work, "The Hereditory
Sheriffs of Galloway", when dealing with this particular charter, states "We
have in some of the names an interesting record of the Celtic owners of lands in
Wigtonshire, all of whom disappeared by 1500."
The names of witnesses to Crown Documents were, and are still, recorded in the order of
the witnesses' rank as it was in like manner in Monasitc Chartlularies. In these
instances, the Crown came first, next the Bishops and Officers of State, then Earls,
followed by lesser noblemen. In the referenced charter, Gillechrist McCaughan's name is
recorded immediately after that of William de Moreville, an Officer of State. A century
later, his lineal descendent, Roland McCaughan, is recorded in fourth place and again
immediately after the Bishop, in the Ragman Roll of Wigtownshire.
These records lead to one thought: "Did our forebearers hold in those early years, a
Celtic earldom", the name of which has not yet come to our attention ?
The Ragman Roll came about when England and Scotland had been engaged for some time in a
war, during which John Bakiol, King of Scotland, was defeated in July 1296 and obliged to
resign his crown. This period is known as the second Scottish Interregnum. Edward I, then
King of England, in his position as the victorious monarch summoned a Parliment of the
great barons of Scotland to meet with him at Berwick-on-Tweed, where he was appointed Lord
Paramount of Scotland. As a consequence of this arrangement, Edward required the leaders
to sign declarations of homage which they did.
Why is this roll called Ragman Roll ? According to Wright, in his "The Domestic
Manners of the middle Ages"(page 233)", it states "the name Ragman Roll is
derived from a favorite diversion of the Ladies Bower, a diversion which is described as
follows: Ragman or King Ragman was a game much affected in AngloNorman society in the
thirteenth century. A number of characters good, bad and indifferent, were written in
couplets consecutively on a sheet of parchment. To each character a string was attached,
having a piece of wax or metal at the tip. This sheet when rolled up was called a Ragman
Roll, because of all the hanging strings, which he or she maintained for the rest of the
When the Scottish baronage swore fealty to King Edward I of
England, their names were written down, and the seals of such as had them containing the
signatures when made up, presented much the same appearance as the roll used in the game,
and hense, no doubt, they gave it in derision, the name of the Ragman Roll. The Ragman
Roll is the largest and most authentic enumeration, now extant, of the nobility of
Scotland before the fourteenth century. The Roll for Wigtownshire was compiled at
Berwick-on-Tweed on the 28th of August 1296, which time and place King Edward also
convened a Parliment of those Scottish nobles summoned by him to attend at the border
city. The Wigtownshire roll which contains the following twenty-six names, is therefore
seemingly a Roll of the Lords of Parliment and Barons of that County:
John Comyn, Counte de Buchan.
Thomas, Euesqe de Candid Casa; Bishop.
Morrice, Priour de Whiterne. (Prior of the Priory of
Roland MacCaghan (McCaughan)
John de Mareschal. (the Marshall of Tosekerton.)
Thomas de Torthorald
Fergus MakDowylt (MacDowell).
Thomas MacUlagh (MacCullough/McCullagh).
Andrew de Logan.
John de Mayareth.
William de Champaigne.
Dougal MacDowly (MacDowell)
Reuf de Champaigne
Hector Askelot (Hector's too-name. son of Roland).
Arthur de Galbrath.
Gilbert de Hanneth.
Thomas de Kithehilt.
William de Byskeby.
William MacUlagh (MacCullough).
Michel MacUlagh (MacCullough).
James Seneschal de Score.
Johan Seneschal (and from whom descended the Earls of Darnly
Marie, Queen of the Isle of Mann. (relic of the King of Mann).
Gillechrist was succeeded by a son named Conall, who was
succeeded by his son Duncan (Donnchadh) who was succeeded by his son, Fergus (Ferghus) the
father of Roland.
Roland McCaughan, Dominus Ejusdem, sometimes recorded as MacCaghan, the MacEachain Mor,
and twentieth chief of the name and family, a baron of Scotland in the barony of McCaughan
and a lord of parliment by virture of his being summoned and attending parliment covened
August 1296 at Berwick by King Edward I of England. As chief of his family, he registered
in the Ragman Roll. He was a strong supporter of Robert the Bruce during the war for
Scottish independence, and was in attendance when he was crowned in 1306 as Robert 1, King
of Scotland, and evidently was a member of the first parliment covened in 1308 at St.
Andrews, by King Robert. One of his family was personal standard bearer (an Bratnaich) to
Third in descent from Roland was Morrice McCaughan, (sometimes Morrice McGaychyn), the
MacEachain Mor, and twenty-third representative of the family. He, on record in 1377 as
receiving an English safe conduct pass at the request of Archibald Douglas, Lord of
Galloway, had as lineal descendent, probably his great-grandson, Fergus.
Fergus McCaughan of Corsmachachan in Glenluce, the MacEachain Mor, was twenty-sixth
representative of the family and a baron. He seemingly was the last of the family to own
extensive lands in Wagtownshire, as a letter from his cousin George Douglas of Leswalt,
cousin to the Lord of Douglas, dated 16 May 1455, contained in the Lochnaw Charters
discloses. Fergus was succeeded by his kinsman, John McCaughan.
1455; a few days after the battle of Arkenholme, Andrew Agnew, the sheriff of Galloway,
was served heir to some of his father's lands. The record of the service is very
interesting, it being one of the last occasions in which any of the Douglas' nominal
rights were held legally admissable as Lord of Galloway, for in this year, the Earldom of
Galloway was forfeited to the crown. This year also heralds the end of the MacCaughan
tenture after six hundred years at Glenluce, and the spread of the family into other parts
James, the 9th Earl of Douglas was a fugitive, and his kinsman George of Douglas in the
following precept gives infeoffment (i.e. symbolically giving possession of the land) of
Lochnaw in virture of a superfority recognized by the Duchess of Touraine. The precept is
"George of Douglas and of Leswalt to his loved cousin Fergus McGachan (McCaughan)
greetings, and for all at large as is found by an inquest of the best and worthiest people
of the Rhynns (a district in Wigtownshire) before me in my court of whitsunday of my lands
of Leswalt held at Corsmacachan in Glenluce, that Andrew Agnew, was nearest and lawful
heir to his late father Andrew Agnew, Sheriff of
Wigtown, and lawfully held with all the law of the points of the brief, being complete
possession of the lands ofsalcare, Lochnaw, and Garkecu with the offices of Balzare of my
barony of Leswalt. My will is, and I charge you (Fergus McGachen) to give heritable state
and sasine possession to the said Andrew Agnew for one acting for his bearer of this
letter of the said lands..... as before detailed and all that goes with them
Given in my Court at Corsmacachan on Whitsunday, the 16th Day of the month of May, this
year of our Lord 1455. "
The witnesses to this charter were: Thomas McDowell, Laird of Garthland; Gebon McDowell;
Alexander Kennedy, the son of Gebon Kennedy, Laird Kirkmichael; Rolland, the son of
Kennedy of Cullnoll; Andrew Neilson; Craig of Craigcoffer; Fynalaw McCulach (McCullough)
of Torhouse; Fergus McCachan (McCaughan) of Glenluce; Alexander Gordon of Airds, brother
to Lord Lochinvar; Patrick McDowell (ancestor to the McDowells of Logan); and William of
Wyna, a notary Public.
John McCaughan succeeded after 1490 as the twenty-sixth representative of the name and
family; the MacEachain Mor. He is mentioned in the Carte Monialium de Northberic when he
witnessed at St. Andrews on 4th October 1463, an act regarding the Vicar of Kilconquhar.
John held extensive property in the Royal Burgh of Irvine, Ayrshire. He is again mentioned
as Johannes McCaichan in records dated 1499 concerning the Royal Burgh. His successor was
also named John.
John McCaughan was the twenty-seventh representative and the MacEachain Mor. As Sir John,
he is mentioned in a document, dated 6th March 1535, wherein he was recorded as a witness
regarding lands of Hugh, Earl of Eglinton, and again in 1540, he is recorded as Sir John
McGahan, a notary public of Irvine, Ayrshire. He was probably the father of at least two
Sir John McCaughan of whom presently;
Sir James McCaughan who was presented to the Rectory of Kilblane, Ayrshire in 1538. In the
Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland (volume 3) he is recorded as Sir James McGauchane.
(Ayrshire is the adjacent County to Wigtownshire.
John McCaughan, the elder son succeeded his father, as the twenty-ninth representative of
the family. He is recorded in 1542 as Sir John MakCachen when he set the rents for the
upkeep of the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist in Irvine, Ayrshire. His successor was
his son, John.
John McCaughan succeeded about 1560 as the thirtieth representative of the name and
family. He died in Irvine, leaving issue of whom the thirty-first representative was Andew
McCaughan. Second in decent from Andrew was his grandson, Archibald McCaughan and of whom
Archibald McCaughan, born in Irvine, became the thirty-third representative of the family
on the death of his father, whose name is thought to have been Alexander. He would
probably be ranked as a lowland adventurer for under the auspices of the Duke of Argyll,
he got land in 1598 in the Mull of Kintyre. In the "Highland Papers" dated 1605,
he is mentioned as Gillespik McKauchane of Mergmoagach, Kintyre. He had amongst other
issue, eight sons:
1. John McCaughan of whom presently.
2. Alexander McCaughan
3. Gillechrist McCaughan
4. Ogan McCaughan
5. Daniel McCaughan
6. Donald McCaughan
7. Angus McCaughan
8. Loghlin McCaughan
The tenture of the lands of Mergmongach in Kintyre was
seemingly very troubled and temporary, forearly in 1600, the family left all and along
with other related families, they journeyed the eighteen miles across the North Channel to
County Antrim, Ireland, where they were apparently well received, and supplied with lands
by John Naghten, Esquire, agent for his cousin, the Earl of Antrim. As public documents
disclose, they were the original family of the name recorded in County Antrim, and at the
following places of residence all within a very short distance of one another:
Ballyverdagh, Culfeightrin Parish, Co. Antrim, Ballynagard, Culfeightrin Parish;
Ballinloughan, Culfeightrin Parish; Kilcrough, Culfeightrin Parish; Dunluce, Parish of
Dunluce, Co. Antrim; Unshanagh, Parish of Layde, Co. Antrim; and Cross, Ballyvoy,
Culfeightrin Parish, Co. Antrim.
John MaCaughan, the thirty-fourth head of his house and representative of the name and
family, was sometimes recorded as McGaghan and/or McCaghan. He was MacEachain Mor, and the
first of Ballyverdagh, Glenshesk, County Antrim. He was born about 1612 at Mergmonogach,
Parish of Morven, Scotland. He occupied through 1669 the lands at Farranmacarter recorded
then at Ballyverdagh from the Gaelic Dunbardach, i.e. The Warden's Castle (or Fort). The
outline of this fort which gave the name to the townland is still discemable on the
Ballyverdagh lands fronting on the east bank of the Shesk River. His descendents continued
in possession of these lands until 1915, after which date their holdings were greatly
reduced. He died at Ballyverdagh about 1672, leaving issue among by his wife Margaret,
daughter of Archibald MacGillebridge of Feran, and a son, Alexander.
Alexander McCaughan was born about 1639 at Ballyverdagh, and he succeeded his father in
1672 in the occupancy of his lands and as the MacEachain Mor. He married Mary, daughter of
Charles MacVurrick of Feran and died about 1697, leaving three sons:
1 . John McCaughan, his heir and of whom presently.
2. Charles McCaughan.
3. Alexander McCaughan.
John McCaughan, his eldest son, was born about 1662 at Ballyverdagh, where he died in
1730, leaving issue five sons and one daughter by his wife, Sarah, granddaughter and
heiress of Art McDowney, formerly of Wigtownshire and later of Ballyverdagh.
1 . John McCaughan, born 1695, predeceased his father.
2. Laughlin McCaughan of whom presently.
3. James McCaughan.
4. Alexander McCaughan.
5. Margaret McCaughan.
6. Archibald McCaughan.
Laughlin McCaughan was born 1696 at Ballyverdagh, and as the eldest living son succeeded
his father in 1730, and is mentioned in a County Antrim Roll of Surnames for 1734, as
Laughy McCagen (McCahan) of Ballyverdagh; he married Mary, daughter of Hugh Niven
(descendent of Hugh Niven also from Wigtownshire), then also of Ballyverdagh, and died
1771. His will was probated in 1772, and he was interred at Culfeightrin, Church of
Ireland, cemetery leaving issue:
1. John McCaughan, his heir of whom presently.
2. Hugh McCaughan, born 1726, married and had issue.
3. Charles McCaughan, born 1727, married and had issue.
4. Laughlin McCaughan, born 1729, married and had issue.
5. Hector McCaughan, born 173 1, married and had issue.
6. Partick McCaughan, born 1735, married and had issue.
John McCaughan, born at Ballyverdagh in 1724, was served heir to his father in 1771, and
died in 1793, interred at Culfeightrin, leaving issue four sons and two daughters by his
wife Agnes, daughter of Alexander McCahan of Ballyverdagh, the lineal descendent of
Loghlin of the same 1669.
1. John McCaughan, his heir of whom presently.
2. Alexander McCaughan, born 1756, married and had issue.
3. Archibald McCaughan, born 1758, married and had issue.
4. Sarah McCaughan, born 1760.
5. Mary McCaughan, born 1761.
6. Charles McCaughan, born 1763, married and had issue.
John McCaughan, his eldest son born 1754 at Ballyverdagh, succeeded his father in 1793,
married Mary, daughter of Hugh Jollie of Dromnakeel, lineal descendent of Captain Jollie
of Ballynagard (also formerly from the Scottish lowlands) and his wife Gizelle Stewart of
Ballintoy, and died 1835 at Ballyverdagh; interred at Culfeightrin, leaving issue:
1. John McCaughan, his heir and of whom presently.
2. Mary McCaughan, born 1785 at Ballyverdagh, interred at Culfeightrin, unmarried
3. Sarah McCaughan, born 1787 at Ballyverdagh, interred at Culfeightrin, unmarried.
4. Hugh McCaughan, born 1789 at Ballyverdagh, married and had issue.
5. Laughlin McCaughan, born 1791 at Ballyverdagh, married and had issue.
6. James McCaughan, born 1792 at Ballyverdagh, married and had issue.
John McCaughan, the eldest son who succeeded to his father's property, born 1784 at
Ballyverdagh, served in the Yeoman (The Carey Cavalry), married Anne, the daughter of John
McBride of Monoclough, interred at Culfeightrin aged 83; they had issue of five daughters
and three sons:
1. Mary McCaughan, born 1813, died 1868, married 1834 to Hugh McCollum of Knockins, Co.
Antrim, lineal descendent of Gill Collom/McCollum, 1669, of Knockins and had issue:
A. John McCollum, married Rose Gillen of Carrowreagh, Mosside, and had issue.
B. Alexander McCollum, married Catherine White of Hillhead, Ballycastle and had issue.
C. Peggy (Margaret) McCollum, married Robert McCollum of Monoclough and had issue.
D. Mary Ann McCollum, married Alexander Cusic (or Cusio) of Bunchnacloney and had issue.
E. Daniel McCollum, unmarried.
2. Ann McCaughan, born 1815, interred at Culfeightrin, 8 December 1882, aged 67,
3. Hugh McCaughan, born 1817, at Ballyverdagh, married 1837 Margaret Curry of Feran, and
died by accident 14 May 1864; interred at Culfeightrin, no issue.
4. Margaret McCaughan, born 9 May 1819, emigrated to Canada 1840, resided at Montreal, and
there married William McMullen, formerly of Tavnaghboy, Co Antrim; they later obtained a
grant of land which included Lime Lake, Lennox Co., Ontario; she died 21 March 1885,
interred at Bunker's Hill, Lime Lake, leaving issue:
A. John McMullen, unmarried.
B. William McMullen, married Anne Watts of California, USA.
C. Mary Jane McMullen, married Andrew Spence of Prospect, Ontario.
D. Margaret McMullen, married Wesley Van Alstine, of Napanee, Ontario.
E. Rose McMullen, married Neil MacNeill.
F. Elizabeth McMullen, married John Henderson of Lime Lake.
5. Sarah McCaughan, born 1821 at Ballyverdagh, emigrated to Canada in 1840, and there
married Caleb Benedict, also of Ireland, and had issue, three children, whose descendents
are found in the Meadford district of Ontario, Canada.
6. Nancy McCaughan, born 1823, died unmarried, at her residence at Ballycastle, 1883, and
is interred at Culfeightrin.
7. Daniel McCaughan, born 1824, at Ballyverdagh, served as an officer in the Irish
Constabulary, died unmarried 14 May 1850, at his father's residence as a result of
injuries received on duty at Clones, Ireland; interred at Culfeightrin, age 26.
8. John McCaughan, his successor and of whom below.
John McCaughan, the surviving son, born at Ballyverdagh, 11 January 1825, died 24 April
1902, at Ballyverdagh, aged 77, interred at Culfeightrin; succeeded his father 1867 and
married in Culfeightrin Parish (Anglican Church) 6 April 1866, Rose McAllister; she
interred Culfeightrin 4 Feb 1896, daughter of Charles Black and his wife Anne Jane Hunter,
both of Carrowreagh, and widow of John McAllister of Manister, all in Drumtullagh Pariash,
Co. Antrim. They had issue three daughters and three sons:
1 . Mary Ann McCaughan, born 1868, emigrated to Philadelphia, PA., USA and there married
Andrew Shilldaday, formerly of Lanacreevy, Rathfrilland, Co. Down, and had issue:
A Douglas Shilladay.
B. John Shilladay.
2. Margaret McCaughan, born 1870, died 1895, interred at Culfeightrin, married John Swan
(MacSuibhne) of Glenariff, Co. Antrim and had two sons:
A. Thomas Swan, served in the Australian Army 1914-1918, died subsequently of wounds;
married Elizabeth Giffan in Australia, no issue.
B. John Swan, of Co. Antrim, married Martha Alexander of Moneyduff, Co. Antrim, and had
issue, four sons and six daughters: (l) Thomas Swan (2) Sydney Swan (3) John Swan (4)
James Swan (5) Margaret Swan (6) Mary Ann Swan (7) Jeannie Swan (8) Martha Swan (9) Eileen
Swan (10) Elizabeth Swan
3. Sarah McCaughan, born 1872, mentioned in her father's will, and interred at Belfast in
4. John McCaughan, born 1874 at Ballyverdagh, emigrated to Philadelphia, USA and there
married married Margaret Slowey, formerly of Co. Cavan, and died 18 February 1904, leaving
one daughter and one son.
A. Margaret Rose McCaughan, married George Black Lewis and had issue:
(1) Margaret Rose Lewis, married John Francis Coleman.
(2) Charles Lawrence Lewis, married Nancy Durrant.
(3) Dorothy Ann Lewis, married George Pongo.
(4) George Black Lewis.
B. Francis McCaughan, born in Philadelphia, married Helen Lappin of that city, and had
issue, one son:
(1) John Franklyn McCaughan, United States Marine Corps, born Philiadelphia, married 1954
to Delores Horan of Philadelphia and had issue:
(a) John Franklyn McCaughan, born 4 October 1957, in Philadephia.
5. Daniel McCaughan, 1876-1912, and of whom later.
6. James McCaughan, born 13 October 1878, baptized at Culfeightrin, 17 Dec 1879, died 24
May 1899, unmarried; interred at Culfeightrin.
By their father's will, dated 5 August 1901, probated 11 March 1903, and administered by
executors, the property and chattels were bequested to his second son Daniel and his
heirs, with remainder, failing heirs, to his son John McCaughan (born 1874, died 1904) of
Daniel McCaughan, born in Ballyverdagh, 12 December 1876, educated at Ballyverdagh School
and further in Scotland, returned from Scotland in 1900, and on the demise of his father,
became the successor as the ninth of Ballyberdagh, and forty-second head of the house. He
was married 8 March 1905 in Ramoan Presbyterian Church Moyargret, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
to Elizabeth, who was born 20 January 1880, the second daughter of William Chambers (I
836-1920) and his wife Elizabeth Jane McCurdy (1 849-1936), both of Prolisk, Straid, B
ushmills, Co. Antrim, and died 11 August 1912, interred at Culfeightrin cemetery leaving
issue three sons:
1 . John Alexander McCaughan of whom following.
2. William Chambers McCaughan, banker, born Ballyverdagh, 9 April 1909, baptized 11 July
1909, in Culfeightrin (Church of Ireland), educated Ramoan Public School and Ballycastle
High School, with further abroad; entered the Royal Navy as a boy, and was invalided out
23 September 1925, and returned to complete his education. Unmarried.
3 . Daniel Alfred McCaughan, engineer, born 3 Jun 1911 at Ballyverdagh, baptized 24
September 1911 at Culfeightrin (Anglican Church). Educated Ramoan Public School, B
allycastle, and High School there. Served with distinction during the second World War, as
an officer in the Royal Navy and married at Uxbridge, England, 7 July 1952 to Frances
Georgina, eldest daughter of George William Singleton and his wife, Frances Emily Carter,
both of Uxbridge, and has issue:
A. John Alexander McCaughan, born 16 July 1954 at Hayes, Middlesex, England, baptized 1
March 1960 in St. Edmunds Anglican Church, Hayes.
John Alexander McCaughan of Ballyverdagh (the compiler of this history), born at
Ballyverdagh, Co. Antrim, 17 December 1906, baptized at Culfeightrin, 7 April 1907.
Succeeded his father in 1912. Married 12 March 1931 at St. Clements Riverdale Anglican
Church, Toronto, Canada to Elizbeth, who was born at Belfast, Ireland, the third daughter
of Charles Kerr Cameron, R.N.R., Issue:
1 . Elizabeth Maureen McCaughan, born 30 March 1932 at Toronto. Married Sigurd
A. John Anders McCaughan Christensen.
2. Alice Lois Chambers McCaughan, bom 6 February 1934 at Toronto. Married 14 January 1955
at St. Saviours' Anglican Church, Toronto, Kenneth Ian Spence. Issue:
A. Kimberly Lynne Spence, bom in Toronto.
Lois married secondly 12 June 1966, at Kingston Road United Church, Toronto, Ivan Bruce
B. John Andrew Forrest.
C. Kevin Bruce Forrest.
3. Patricia Aloa Alexandra McCaughan, bom 14 March 1936 at Toronto, married 15 November
1957 at St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, Toronto to Joseph Leonard Boyd, and has
A. Kelly Kristene Boyd, born in Toronto.
B. Heidi Elzabeth Alexandra Boyd, born in Toronto.
C. Joseph Kerr Alexander Boyd, born in Toronto.
A. --------- List of Wills pertaining to the family:
B. -------- Applotment for Ballyrashane Parish, County Antrim:
1842 Robert McCaughan of Crunnagh North (Articrunnagh). 1842 James McCaughan of Clughan.
C. -------- Extracts from Church Registers, Carrickfergus Protestant Chruch:
Registers of Baptism, Marriages, and other:
6 April 1749, Dennis, son of Daniel McKagan of Carrickfergus.
Ballymoney Presbyterian Church Old Sessions Baptismal Book:
20 May 1755 Agnes, daughter of James McCaughan.
28 Aug 1755 Janet, daughter of Alexander McCaughan.
8 Oct 1755 Neil McCaughan.
14 Apr 1759 Archibald, son of Neil McKaughem.
16 Jan 1762 Elizabeth, daughter of Neil McCachen.
1 Aug 1822 Mary McCahon, daughter of John McCahon and Marry Corry of Fornahurn.
29 Dec 1823 Thomas Gamble, son of Adam Gamble and Catherin McCahan of Ballymoney.
9 Apr 1824 Jenny McElereavy, daughter of Daniel McElereavy and Mary McCahon of Drumant.
-------- Register of Marriages, Ballymoney Presbyterian Church, Old Sessions Book:
26 Jul 1818 Daniel McClay of Drumant and Mary McCahan.
9 Apr 1824 John McCaughan of Ballymoney to Elizabeth McDowell of the
------- Church Members (Taghy Towniand)
1817 Samuel McCahon and Martha McCahon, sons John and James.
Charles McCahon and Elizabeth McCahon of Ballarnnore, Townland; sons:
James, Samuel, John, daughter Ann.
-------- Church Members (Drumant Towniand)
John McCahon and Mary McCahon, son James, daughters Mary and Elizabeth.
McCaughan marriages recorded in Ireland, taken from the index of the then United Dioceses
Down, Connor and Dromore and almost all of the registrations were found in the Diocese of
Dromore, which includes County Antrim:
McCaughan, Daniel married Elizabeth McMullan, 183 I.
McCaughan, Ellen married James Dennis, 1832.
McCaughan, James married Ellen McGoogan/McGuigan, 1832.
McCaughan, Hannah married John Lightbody, 1833.
McCaughan, Giles married James Smith, 1834.
McCaughan, Mary married Daniel McConaghy, 1834. McCaughan, William married Ellen McCook,
McCaughan, Mary married Hugh McCaulum/McCollum, 1834.
McCaughan, James married Catherine McConaghy, 1835.
McCaughan, Archibald married Ellen Murphy, 1835.
McCaughan, Daniel married Margaret McCulran, 1836. McCaughan, Ellen married James White,
McCaughan, Mary married Robert Bruce, 1836.
McCaughan, Margaret married Duncan McCaw, 1836. McCaughan, Thomas married Elzabeth Edmons,
1836. McCaughan, John married Catherine Brown, 1836.
McCaughan, Hugh married Margaret Curry, 1837.
McCaughan, Hector married Nancy McDuffee/McAfee 1837.
McCaughan, Jane married Edward McKinlay, 1837.
McCaughan, Mary married Patrick Kirkpatrick, 1838. McCaughan, John married ------- Smith,
McCaughan, William married Mary Ann Walker, 1839.
McCaughan, Giles married Neale Wilkinson, 1840.
McCaughan, Mary married John McAulay, 1840.
McCaughan, Margaret married William McMullan, 1842.
McCaughan, Robert married Martha Johnson, 1843.
McCaughan, George married Betty Morrison, 1844.
McCaughan, Margaret married James Magee, 1844.
E. ------- The McCaughan's in Ballintoy Parish (Parish founded 1670):
Extracts from Ballintoy Protestant Episcopal Church vestry book starting 1713 (the parish
of Ballintoy is situated in the barony of Carey and approximately six miles west on the
coast from Ballycastle, Co. Antrim).
1713 Manus O'Cahan signs vestry book.
1729 Daniel O'Cahan's account L l 13.10.7d.
1732 Hector McKachan, Church Warden (surname spelt the same as in 1160 Scottish records).
1733 Hector McKaughan signs vestry minutes.
1734-35-37-38-43-45 James O'Cahan, Charles O'Cahan, Daniel O'Cahan all signed the vestry
minutes for these years.
1760-62 Charles O'Cahan signs vestry minutes.
1763 Archibald McKachan and John Stewart submit an account of money laid (levied) on the
Parish at last vestry --- Stewart was probably the Rector's Warden.
1765 Alexander McKachen's signs vestry minutes.
1766 Mr. Alexander McKachen's account for cash laid on the parish last year. L 22.214.171.124d.
1766-67 Barnet O'Cain (O'Cahan) Churchwarden.
1767-68 John McKachen, Churchwarden.
1769 Frank O'Cane (O'Cahan) Churchwarden.
1772 Dennis McCaghan and Angus Glass were Churchwardens.
1772 Dennis McKauchen signs as Churchwarden.
1775 Archibald McCaughan signs as Churchwarden.
1775 John McKaghin signs as Churchwarden.
1780 Duncan McCaghan of Drumagee acts as Parish Apprizer.
1780 Dennis McKachen signs as Churchwarden.
1786 Dennis McKaghen of Broughammon agrees to act as Church warden.
1787-88 Dennis McKaughan of Broughgammon signs as Church warden.
1791-92 Archibald McCaghan, Jr. to examine the applotment for the
The family name being so early associated with Mann, many Manx historians refer to it as a
Celtic patronymic of purely native origin, and we do know that many descendents of the
Manx family came to Northern Ireland early in the 1700's and for some time, retained their
mode of the spelling of the name.
Ballyverdagh, County Antrim
The Irish Seat of the McCaughan Family for Three Hundred Years
The Townland of Baflyverdagh, sometimes recorded as Ballyberidagh, and formerly
Dunbardach, bears a place name which is derived from the Gaelic words when conjoined and
Anglicized mean "The Home or Castle" of the Warden, for Ballyverdagh was in
historic times, the home of the Warden or Guardian for this area of Glenshesk. Gone now is
the Fort or Castle in which the Warden lived, but it is still possible to discern in the
ground, the outline of this ancient fortification of Dun, situated at the extreme west
side of the Ballyverdagh South Lands and on the east bank of the Shesk river. A
description of this Dun and mention of it being on my grandfathers (John McCaughan
1825-1902) lands, is contained in the work in three volumes (1878-1884) of the Reverend
Fr. James O'Laverty, "An Historical Account of the Diocess of Down and Connor".
The outline of the next Dun or "Castle" south of the Shesk river is found on the
McCaughan of Duncarbit land, the name Duncarbit is derived from the Gaelic Dun meaning
Fort or Castle and Car (bit) meaning corner, therefore the castle on the corner, where it
held a commanding view of the Shesk valley. The ruins of the ancient church of Drumeeny
are on the lands of the McCaughan's of Drumeeny.
Ballyverdagh is one of the townlands in Glenshesk, lying as it does approximately two
miles south from the town of Ballycastle at the Atlantic Ocean and on the main road that
winds through the Glen from that town to Armoy, County Antrim. It is bounded by the
townlands of Brackney on the north, Ballyveeley on the south, Eglish on the east and the
Shesk river on the west. The townland being very large, it was in the eighteenth century
divided into two parts and renamed Ballyverdagh North and Ballverdagh South, the dividing
line between these two is a mountain stream known as the Alt (Gaelic for stream), that
flows west into the Shesk river.
That in brief, is a description of the particular piece of real estate where the first of
our name and family made his home in Ireland, probably a lonely place in the early 1600's,
and so our crest, the Eagle, seems appropriate, and which Tennyson so aptly describes:
He clasps the crag with crooked hands,
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls,
In 1669, the Anglicized name Ballyverdagh appears for the first time in public documents
and in the manner of the day, it is incorrectly recorded as Ballyvardy. In that year, John
and Alexander McCaughan resided there as did Angus Varing, Hugh Niven and Art Downey, all
then citizens of Ireland and the representatives of Scottish Lowland families.
While successive waves of immigrants either as soldiers or fleeing from persecution,
evidently formed the settlers in the Route and Glens and Antrim, it seems long to have
been sparsely populated, and no one sees reason to doubt that many families first recorded
as being there were more or less the first effective possessors of their lands. This will
be more readily understood when it is remembered that much of the male population of
Ulsters was in 1630 approximately 13,000. In the case of the McCaughans of Ballyverdagh,
neither history or tradition knows of any earlier holders of these lands, consequently, it
is evident that they were the first to "Raise smoke and boil water" in this
particular place. You will note that I said the McCaughans were more or less the first
effective, meaning active, possessors of their lands, for it must be understood that there
was always some person or persons who consider themselves the overlord and endeavored the
exact tribute from the actual possessors.
Here is an example of this condition as it applied in Ulster in early times: John de
Courcy, an Anglo-Norman baron arrived in Ulster in 1 177, he built a castle near Colerain,
Co. Derry, placed himself in authority over the native Irish chiefs and tried to collect
tribute from them. In 1205, he was driven out of his illegal possessions by Hugh de Lacy
(another Anglo-Norman), who was made Earl of Ulster by King John of England. In 1210, King
John drove Hugh de Lacy from Ulster and gave the lands to Allen Fitz-Roland MacUchtaght,
King of Galloway. In 1227, Hugh de Lacy again obtained the lands of Ulster and redeemed
his title as Earl of Ulster. In 1242, John Bissett settled in the Antrim glen, he having
obtained this area from Hugh deLacy, lst earl of Ulster,who as you see had a very simple
title to ownership of any lands in Ulster.
In 1399, John Mor Tanister McDonnell of Dunnyveg, Scotland married Margery, the sole
heiress of John McEvin Bissett and as a result of this marriage, his descendents became
possessed of the Antrim Glens, and from this marriage are descended the Earls of Antrim
who obtained the Route and the Glens by conquest and eventually a charter dated 28 May
1603, from James I, King of England; so they in turn became the overlords.
As shown in public documents dealing with Glenshesk, the Townland of Ballyverdagh and
Ferrinmacarter were included in the lands granted by Alexander, 5th Earl of Antrim (a
nobleman noted for his estravagant habits) on the 10th of May 1737 to Hugh Boyd of
Ballycastle. This transaction introduced in this area a type of tenant who did not own the
several lands contained in the grant or agreement but paid a fixed yearly rent for same.
Accordingly, he in turn leased or rented these lands to the actual occupiers and exacted a
rent from them. It was to the advantage of such a chief tenant (but a tenant none the
less) to have as many people as possible pay him his demanded and not fixed rental,
consequently, he or his agent would endeavor to find more and more tenants and place them
on the land, thereby reducing the holdings of the original occupiers, a method against
which there was evidently no recourse except to leave the home or stay and weather it out.
From 1737 to 1800, these conditions prevailed and according to the records there were
several different families living in different parts of Ballyverdagh at one time during
the later eighteen hundreds. In 1831, John Campbell, Daniel McCook, Alexander, Patrick and
Hector McCaughan lived in Ballyverdagh North and in the same year, Robert and John
McMichael lived in Ballyverdagh South as did also John McCahan (McCaughan 1754-1855), my
great-great grandfather, John, Jr. (1789-1867), my great-grandfather and great uncles,
Hugh, Laughlin and Archibald. My grandfather John (1825-1902) was also there at that time,
but he was only six years of age then.
Before 1850, the McCook family removed to near Armoy and both families of MacMichael
possessed other lands at Magherintemple, one family now extinct and the other represented
by the McMichaels of
Ballycastle, a reputable family in the pharmaceutical business in that town. This left
John McCaughan and his family in Ballyverdagh South and John Campbell with Patrick,
Alexander and Hector McCaughan in posssession of the north half. At this same time,
Patrick McCaughan owned Ferrinmacarter Mountain, containing over 117 acres, the lease for
this land is dated 13 August 1858, although it is stated in this document that he had held
possession previous to this date.This land reverted to the McCaughans of Ballyverdagh.
1850 seemingly marked a turning point for shortly thereafter, Patrick McCaughan and
Alexander McCaughan removed from Ballyverdagh North to Ballyveely (which adjourns
Ballyverdagh to the south) where they held different farms and obtained another previously
owned by John White. The lease is dated the 13th of May 1856. Then from Ballyverdagh
South, Archibald McCaughan held a farm in Ballyveeley, lease dated 23 June 1862, also a
farm in Drumseeny, lease dated 30 October 1861 and part of Ballyverdagh South. On 1
November 1875, Major F.T. Boyd reduced the McCaughan holdings in Ballyverdagh by leasing
to Archibald McAllister (lease dated 19 October 1858, 122 acres, 0 rods, I I perches),
this lease dated 3 October 1864. This left John McCaughan (1789-1867) in possession of the
remaining acreage and in which my grandfather John (1825-1902) added the 117 of
Ballyverdagh North was according to the particulars of this 1875 sale almost all in the
possession of Robert Campbell whose tenture was at the time of sale (1875) recorded as
being unknown to the vendor. The total land area (1 rod and 27 perches) of which the
McCaughans as a family owned over 1000 acres or the major part, for at that time, there
were in Glenshesk, twenty related families by that Surname. With the advent of the Land
Purchase Act (lreland 1881) the land and the vicious system of granting, leasing, and
renting gradually disappeared from the Irish scene.
One of the stars in my crown of rejoicing is that the first years of my life, and those of
my brothers William and Daniel, were spent in that old home, now a gaunt and deserted
ruin, but still the treasure house of happy and sad memories for a scattered family. Now
we reside in foreign lands, but as tender memories throng my reminiscences, the concepts
of time and space dissolve, and I stand in retrospect, a child once more in that dear old
homestead. I fancy, I hear my father as he busies about, getting ready for his daily
chores, sniff the tantalizing fragrance of the new mown hay carried on the sweet mountain
air. I hear the bleet of the sheep from where they graze up on the mountain sides. I
sample the hot home-made bread expertly baked by my mother on an open fireplace without
the aid of modem automatic controls. I feel the warmth of a family loved, and died in this
our house. All memories, memories of a bygone time, for now after hundreds of years of
occupancy, none of the McCaughans live in Ballyverdagh House and no more fitting finish
could be accorded than the lines, "Whereoff the place where once we were, we shall no
more be known. " However, the lands of Ballyverdagh South are still owned by a
1 . According to early Irish histories, which in this particular case are confirmed by
Bede (Lib. 1, Cap. 1), the Picts landed, and remained some time in Ireland, on their way
to settlement in Scotland. In the Irish Annals, they are usually called Cruithne (Cruhne),
which is also a term used by Adamnan, and which is considered to by synonymous with the
word Picti, i.e. painted, from cruth, color. After their establishment in Scotland, they
maintained intimate relations with Ireland, and the ancient Dalaradua (Dal-Araidhe) is
often called in our Irish Annals, "The Country of the Cruitne ".
It is probable that a remnant of the original colony remained there; but we know besides
that its inhabitants were descended through the female line from the Picts, for Irial
Glumore, the 23rd King of Ulster and the progenitor of, these people, was married to
Loncetna, the daughter of Eochy Eacheoil, King of the Picts in Scotland.
This is fully dealt with by Dr. P.W. Joyce in his "The Origin and History of Irish
Names and Places".
2. The barony of Corsmacachan (the heart of McCaughan land), Parish Old Luce, Glenluce,
Wigtownshire, Scotland, which contained the Castle or Seat of Fergus McCachan is mentioned
in a document dated 16 May 1455, as the place where a baronial court was held at that time
by his cousin, George of Douglas, cousin of The Douglas, the last Celtic Lord of Galloway.
This document also informs us that at this date, Fergus also held among other places, the
Townlands of Salcare, Locknaw and Garkerue in the Parish of Leswalt, Wigtownshire.
3. The barony of Barmagachan (McCaughan Mountain), Parish of Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire
(the next county east of Wigtown, and part of the ancient kingdom of Galloway), was
conveyed by deed dated 15 Augutst 1511 to one Peter Muir, father-in-law to Gilbert
MacLelland. The name Barmagachan is still retained in this Parish. Sir Andrew Agnew in the
Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway refers to this deed and described the property as being
the largest part of the now MacLelland barony.
4. Eachain the eponymous or progenitor from whom we derive our family name is, as stated,
and most authorities agree, a surname derived from the Gaelic tribal designation Eachuinn
or Eachdonn, as in the middle Gaelic and Irish Gaelic of 1092 respectively, and
prehistorically Eqo-Donno-s, meaning Horse Lord or Lord Chief of the Horse Tribe. The
Horse (Gaelic Each) being the totem or symbol of our tribe. We know that at this moment
(and others may disagree further as time goes on), some writers equate Eachain with
horsemen, e.g. Eachghune or Eachmareach, a translation that might indicate a trade name,
and therefore be contrary to the ancient Celtic custom when trade names were unknown.
There is no foundation for the surmise that Hector is the English name for Eachan. Those
versed in etymology contend that the primative meaning of the word is "Horse Knight
or Horse Lord"; among these are such authorities as Dr. George Black (The Surnames of
Scotland), P.R. Reaney (British Surnames), and Dr. A.W. Moore (Manx Surnames).
5. Mac in its various forms means "Son of", therefore MacEachain means son of
Eachain, i.e., Son of the Horse Lord. Mac Eachain, is rendered in the Gaelic characters as
Mac Eacain, the H being introduced only in the Roman script to show an asperation of the
6. Dr. Edward MacLysaght, Gaelic scholar, noted author, and former Chief Herald of Ireland
in his book "Irish Families", explains for us how there could be a difference in
translating old terms or names in the light of modern thinking, when he states
"Middle Gaelic differs from the modern Gaelic more widely than does modern English
from that of Chaucer". In that section of this same work which deals with the
derivation of Surnames, he substantiates our finding and the statement that MacEachain
means "The son of the Lord or Head of the Horse Tribe" when he points out that
"in many cases the tribe name did subsequently become the surname of the leading
family of the Clan or Tribe."
-------------------- Irish-American Genealogist
-------------------- Genealogical Department of
-------------------- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
-------------------- Salt Lake City, Utah,
-------------------- Vol. VII, Issue Nos. 25-28, 1982.
Footnote: This article was published soon after Chavelier John
McCaughan's death, 25 October 1981. He was 43rd Chief of Clan McCaughan. He researched our
family most of his life and was considered a world genealogist by the Heraldry of Canada.
Since Chavelier John had no sons, his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Maureen McCaughan
Christensen is acting Head until it is decided who will follow (l998)