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The common Welsh surname Gough is derived from the Welsh word goch or coch, meaning "red", "one with red hair or a red complexion." Equivalent Welsh names are Gogh, Goch, and Goff. Common Welsh Surnames.

In an earlier version of this page, I said: "The Welsh 'Gough' has sometimes become 'McGough' in succeeding generations. Conversely, the Irish McGough, which is derived from MacEochadha or its variations, has sometimes become Gough, perhaps because it sounds more English than Irish." I recant the first part of my earlier statement. I now doubt whether a Mc has ever been added to the Welsh name Gough. On the other hand, Irish McGoughs have "Englished" their names by dropping the Mc, and a few have restored the Mc at a later date.

The Goughs of Welsh origins settled mostly in southeastern Ireland, predominantly in county Waterford. Irish Ancestors includers this comment under Gough:

"numerous: E Ulster, Midlands, South-East. Ir. Goch, from Welsh coch = red. In Waterford 13 cent. Now pronounced Goff and so spelled in some cases. This name is also an anglicisation of (1) Ó Cuacháin (Mayo) and (2) Mag Eochadha (Armagh-Monaghan)."

In the 1890 birth-distribution figures, most of the Goughs were in county Waterford, Dublin, and county Meath. Most of these were doubtless the Welsh Goughs. There were 57 Goughs in county Waterford, 33 in Dublin, and 28 in county Meath, there were only 4 in county Monaghan and 3 in county Louth, where the McGoughs were most common. Statements that Gough (Goff) is synonomous with McGough (McGeough) are generally wrong, in my opinion. For example, Heirlooms of Ireland by Joseph F. Osborne (Revised Edition 2002 Clearfield Company by Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore), says (at page 70):

Mac Geough (-Goff) of Irish Gaelic (IG) origin, with a geographical location in Armagh, Down, Fermanagh (?), Louth and Monaghan, a pseudonyn or synonym for Gough of Welsh (WE) origin.

Some Irish McGoughs certainly dropped the Mc, either in Ireland to make their surname look more English, or upon immigration for the same reason, but the Irish-Gaelic McGough is a different name than the Welsh Gough.

As Osborne points out (at page 6), a simple M was an acceptable prefix for Mc or Mac, but seldom used. When the M was used as a prefix in US census returns, indexers often indexed the surname under G. For example, John McGough was listed on the 1850 census return for Irish Hollow precinct, Jo Daviess county, Illinois, as John M Gough, and indexed as John Gough. A proper indexing would have been McGough. See my page: Goughs Born in Ireland and Listed in the 1850 Census of the United States.

The son of Joshua McGeough and Susan Pierce of county Armagh, Ireland, used the name John Goffe. He was born on June 7, 1769, and emigrated to the United States in 1801. His large family of descendants in the United States used the surname Goff. See The McGeough Bonds in County Armagh.

"My father [John, son of Joshua McGeough] dropped the 'Mac' and omitted the 'e' and always spelled his name 'Goffe' as is usual in America (except the 'e') while in the old country it is spelled 'Gough'." From the History or Record of J. G. Goff's Family, written by himself. Goff Family History.

Lawrence M. Gough, who taught a course entitled "An Introduction to Gaelic" at Anglistisches Institut, Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany, tells us: "Every Irish person has two names, an Irish one and an English one. My name in Irish is 'Labhrás Mac Eochaidh'." Obviously, his family dropped the Mac, but perhaps uses the M. as the equivalent.

On October 3, 1989, the steamer F/V Northumberland was fishing for menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas, near Sabine Pass. When the boat ruptured a natural gas pipe and exploded and burned, only three of the crew of fourteen survived. Among the survivors were the captain, Darreyl Wayne Gough, and his cousin, Mac Gough (no first name other than Mac was given). Since Gough and Mac Gough were cousins, Gough's branch of the family probably had dropped the Mac. By an email of January 7, 2006, Marilou Bray of Heathsville, Virginia, says:

"I was searching for information about the explosion that happened in the Gulf a some years ago. It was when Wayne Gough ran over the gas line and there was an explosion. Your web page came up in my search. These people are from where I live (and grew up). I just thought you might be interested to know that Mac is Wayne's cousin and Timmy and Neale's father. Mac is his first name and Gough is his last name. I think he is dead now but he used to live in Fairport Va."

Edward McGough says:

"During Victorian times most Irish arriving were navvies, coming to find hard manual work. Some McGe/ oughs, in an attempt to avoid being grouped together, Anglicized their name by dropping the ‘Mc’, becoming "Gough." Some went even further and became ‘Smith’."

Arthur G. Austin, before his recent death, was researching the name Gough, and suggested that McGough sometimes became Gough upon conversion to a Protestant religion. Here is an email he sent me:

"My GOUGHs, like ... 's GOUGHs, were very staunch Presbyterian, and some of the more recent generation became Methodist. Actually during my youth I would swear that my grand parents hated the Catholics. I do not believe that you will find many GOUGHs or GOFFs that are Catholic. As a matter of fact when my grand mother was introduced to my children, which are Catholic, my grand mother said that 'they were cute but they are Catholic'. My children were raised Catholic because my wife is Catholic. This will give you something to think about, but I believe it is true. There are probably a few isolated instances that differ but McGEOUGH, McGOUGH and the other spellings are for the most part Catholic. GOFF, and GOUGH are not Catholics."

Pamela Hartman of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, recently posted an Internet inquiry about an ancestor of hers, James M. Gough. She says that, according to family lore, about 1850 James M. Gough went onto a ship to see off his sister who was immigrating from Ireland to the United States, could not get off, and came to the United States himself. He and his sister entered the United States through New York City. She said that James M. Gough was born in Castleblayney, county Monaghan, and had been an Army Constable in county Cork. James M. Gough married Mary Wheeler and remained in the United States. He went from New York City to Fillmore County, Minnesota, and then to Miner County, South Dakota.

Since the Irish immigrants did not ordinarily use middle initials in those days, I asked her if there is a chance that the James M. Gough she is seeking was James M'Gough or James McGough? James McGough was a common name in the Castleblayney area in the mid-nineteenth century. I volunteered to do some looking while in county Monaghan, and asked if she knew the religion of James M. Gough.

Pamela responded that her mother did say once that the "Mc" had been dropped from McGough in her family. She says that, as far as she knows, members of her family were always Presbyterian. She said that she knows of one brother of James M. Gough, Robert B. Gough, who was born on June 23, 1843, she assumes in Castleblayney. Robert married a Josephine Stein in Plaingrove, Pennsylvania, and Robert and Josephine both died in and are buried in Canova, Miner County, South Dakota.

Under the heading "Gough MacGeough," the genealogy section of the Go Ireland web page says:

"The great majority of Goughs in Ireland are of Welsh origin. Families called Coch (Welsh word for red or ruddy) came to Ireland in the thirteenth century, settled mainly in Dublin and Waterford and have been identified with those counties since. In Dublin mainly as merchants, in Waterford as administrators and landed gentry. In 1329 Henry Goghe, of a family in Munster, obtained a grant of land and houses at Dungarvan; and west Waterford has since been the homeland of many Gough families. In 1607 Sir James Gough purchased the Kilmanahan Castle estate. They were also in the city of Waterford: Nicholas Gough was mayor in 1435 and 1441 and Sir Edward Gough was mayor in 1660. Sir James Gough was one of the Catholic M.P.s imprisoned by James I. In 1641 the Goughs were listed with the Ronans, the Coppingers and the Fitzgeralds, among the leading families of Youghal. Alderman Edward Gough was M.P. for that town in 1634 and 1639, and another Alderman Edward Gough was its member in the Parliament of 1689.

"In the nineteenth century the Goughs of Munster were mainly notable as high-ranking officers in the British army: one of these, Field-marshal Hugh Gough (1779–1869), was created a viscount in 1849. These were of a Wiltshire family which came to Co. Limerick in the seventeenth century and are now at Lough Cutra Co. Galway. One of a different type, was Wexford-born John William Goff (1847–1924), a noted jurist in America, whose connexion with the Fenian organization is elucidated in the Devoy correspondence."

I doubt that any McGoughs in Ireland derived their name from these Welsh Goughs. The social and economic pressure was to anglicize an Irish-Gaelic name, not to de-anglicize a Welsh or English name. Certainly, the McGoughs/McGeoughs of Monaghan, from whom my great grandfather John McGough was descended, did not derive the name from the Welsh word for red (or blacksmith), "goch" or "coch." As elaborated in my page Origins of the Surname McGough, that name derived from the Gaelic MacEochadha or Mag Eochy. As discussed earlier, some McGoughs "Englished" their name by dropping the Mc and adopting Gough. Some of these families later reinserted a Mc. From these instances has probably come the unsubstantiated myth that some some of the Welsh Goughs in Ireland changed their name to McGough. For a contrary view, see Gough, Mac Geough (on the Clan McGeough website), where the usually reliable Eddie Geoghegan states an opinion (in italic below) with which I disagree:

"In the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the British government insisted that all civil records be recorded in English, which resulted in the wholesale anglicisation of Irish surnames. Further pressure resulted in the dropping of the gaelic prefixes Mac (Mc, Mag, etc.) and O. At the beginning of the twentieth century, under the growing influence of the Gaelic League, a general reversal of this process began to be perceptible, at least to the point that the old prefixes began to be used again. The extent of this resumption can be easily illustrated by the mere fact that in 1890 there were twice as many Connells as O'Connells. Today we have nine O'Connells for every Connell. This resumption of gaelic prefixes also occurred with great regularity among the emigrant Irish as they asserted their Irishness. However, it must be said that in many cases, the 'resumed' prefix may have been in error and there is no doubt that many bearing the name McGough today are descended from the Welsh family of Gough rather than the gaelic-Irish Mag Eothach, Mag Eochach or Mag Eochadha." (Italics added)

As stated above, though some McGoughs doubtless dropped the "Mc" and later restored it, I have never been able to find any evidence of a Welsh Gough's adding a Mc to his name. The page last quoted is part of the valuable website of Edward McGough.

For a history of Peter Gough, who was born in 1802 in Garrybane, Aughnamullen parish, county Monaghan, Ireland, married Letitia Naulty (Nulty) around 1830 in Ireland, emigrated to Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, in 1842, was naturalized in 1863, and died in Hazleton, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, on December 21, 1871, see Donna Gough's website: The Goughs, Houlihans, and related families. Letitia was born in 1810 in Nobber in county Meath. The oldest son of Peter and Letitia was born in Ireland in 1831. The Tithe Applotment books shows an Arthur McGough in the townland of Garrybane in 1829, and Griffith's Valuation shows a Peter McGough there in 1858. See McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Monaghan in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By Barony, Parish, and Townland, lines 260 and 261. Garrybane is in the area I call the Latton Square in my page McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in the Civil Parish of Aghnamullen and is the center of what is probably the greatest concentration of McGoughs in Ireland.

There is an another Irish origin for some of the Gough surnames in Ireland—Ua Goaigh. The Annals of the Four Masters, at M1014, report the slaying of Donnchadh Ua Goaigh, Lord of Ciannachta Ginne Geimhin [the vale of the River Roe near Dungiven, now in the barony of Keenaght in county Londonderry]. In a footnote to his edition of the Annals, John O'Donovan says that the anglicized version of Donnchadh Ua Goaigh is Donough O'Goey or Dennis Gough. If Ua Goaigh became Gough, could not the son of Goaigh, mac Goaigh, have become McGough? So far as I know, no one else has made this suggestion.

Arthur McGough (or McGeough) was born in county Monaghan, Ireland, on July 2 or 3, 1840. He emigrated to the United States before 1866. When he and his family settled in Rhode Island, they used the surname Goff. Arthur Goff, his wife Ann, and five of their children, are listed in the 1870 census of the town of Warwick, Kent county, Rhode Island. They are listed under Arthur Gough in the 1880 census of Warwick. Arthur's widow is listed in the 1900 census of Providence (10th ward) as Ann McGough, age 60, born in January, 1840, in Ireland, widow, mother of 10 children, 5 living, emigrated in 1875, 25 years in US, on Bath Street.] See McGeough's from Rhode Island and Monaghan, IE on Ann McGeough Harney's website. See also my page McGoughs and McGues in the 1870 Census of the United States under Rhode Island, town of Warwick, River Point P.O.

Buried at Old St. Mary's Cemetery, Grace Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, are Patrick McGough, who died on December 30, 1896, age 75, and his wife Bridget McGough who died on February 25, 1893, age 68 years. Listed as Patrick McGough in the 1850 census of Pawtucket, Massachusetts, and in the 1890 directory of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Patrick and Bridget were both natives of county Monaghan, Ireland. An adjoining stone commemorates William Gough, who died on August 4, 1886; his wife Ellen who died on August 26, 1893; and Annie Gough Hughes, 1878–1948. The fact that the two families are in adjoining plots is circumstantial evidence that they are of the same family. In the 1880 census of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the family of Patrick and Ellen Gough is listed. Patrick was 59 years old, a saloon keeper, born in Ireland. Ellen was age 57, and born in Ireland. Their children listed in the 1880 census were: William Gough, age 29, a stone mason, born in Rhode Island; May Gough, age 27, a worker in a mill, who was born in Rhode Island; and Daniel Gough, age 21, tends bar, born in Rhode Island; and Margaret Gough, age 18, a worker in a mill, born in Rhode Island.

Company H, 30th Arkansas Infantry Regiment, CAA, was formed during the early summer of 1862 at Jonesboro, AR. Captain Green D. Byers. is shown as the recruiting officer for most of the men. This information is taken from the microfilmed service records of the unit: "McGoff (McGough), Gehue, 1Lt—Co H, enl 10 Jul 1862 at Jonesboro - Surrendered 11 May 1865—paroled 25 May 1865 at Wittsburg. Age 35—eyes blue, hair black, comlx fair—ht 5' 8", born AL."

The Irish McGeough or McGough has sometimes become McGoff in the United States. For a discussion of this and other common variations of McGough in the United States, see Distribution of McGoughs in the United States on this website. For a more complete discussion of the origins of the name Gough, see Gough (Goff) History & Genealogy. See also the Gough website where the surnames Goff, Goof, Goofe, M'Gough, Goch are in the subtitle.

On the dormant web page, The Gooch Pedigree, this statement was made: "I include here all the various recorded spellings of this name: Gooch Goch Googe Gough Goz Gouge Goff Goodge Goche Goghe Gowgh Gook Gowghe."

Mayors of Dublin include: Patrick Goghe (Googhe) in 1575 and 1576, John Goughe in 1576 and 1577, and William Goughe in 1603 and 1604. Donald Gouge and I were in the same class at the University of Washington.

There were certainly Goughs who were Irish patriots, as is illustrated by The Ballad of Anthony Gough:

"Shantallow now it is morning,
For a soldier who is dead
Another lad is cut down
By foreign British lead
No more we will see him with his smile,
In spite of Ireland's pain
For he is dead and gone.
His land to free
And he did not die in vain.

"Anthony Gough was his name,
A thorn in England's side ... "

Here is an email from Julie Gough of Townsville, Australia, which I post here with her permission. I have inserted in brackets the few relevant records I found in Scotlands People:

"Hello, (15 Oct 2006)

"I am seeking more info—especially why my GLASGOW paternal family line dropped the MC.... from Mc Gough c.1920!? —and family history going back pre 1880s.

"I have inherited the following limited info and seek more! —any advice really appreciated.

I (Julie Gough b.1965, Australia) come from a FRANCIS MC GOUGH who married ANN MORTIMER (when/where?) and their child JOHN MC GOUGH (1846–1885) married a HELEN HILL (1848–1920; parents William Hill and Helen Mc Fadyeh b/d?) (where married on 1 Dec 1875 ?). I would like to track these families back further in time also—any ideas/clues?

[1 1845 MCGEOUGH, FRANCIS; ANN MORTIMER. FR (frame number) 7682. GLASGOW (parish). (GROS Data Image Extract) 644/01 043.]

[102 1875 MCGOUGH JOHN; HILL, HELEN. BLACKFRIARS, GLASGOW. (GROS Data Image Extract) 644/05 0239.]

"JOHN MC GOUGH and HELEN had 7 children: Nellie, Peter, John, William, Annie, David and Mary. My great grandfather is #6 child above, David Storrar MC GOUGH (1885–1957) who married on 29 Dec 1905 ESTHER COPE (1885–1960)—and the MC was dropped sometime in my great grandfather's lifetime. He was a newspaper publisher, lay dentist and was somehow (apparently) involved in both protestant and catholic activities in GLASGOW, he held high status (wish to confirm ) in MASONIC LODGE/S. I would like to know more about this man.

[67 1885 MCGOUGH DAVID STORER, BLACKFRIARS. GLASGOW (GROS Data Image Extract) 644/05 065]

"DAVID STORRAR (mc) GOUGH had 5 (known) children—5 boys: Charles, Martyn, Albert, Jack, and David (my Grandfather)—all are now deceased—between 1966 and 1993. They were all born in Glasgow.

"My grandfather DAVID SMITH GOUGH (1908–1993) married Ann Laird (1909–1997) in 1929 at Gretna Green, Scotland. They migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1948.

"I don't know much about my grandmother's family— yet. One much loved brother died in the (which?) mines, and there are/were family at Perth Scotland, Stirling, Fife, Milton of Balgonie—any more information/contacts would be greatly appreciated.

"Julie Gough (b.1965)
Townsville, Australia"

Updated May 19, 2013  
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