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Spelling of McGough

The Gaelic name that was anglicized as the surname McGough was mac Eochadha, pronounced mag yeo'hee. The stem of McGough is the old Irish ech, which became eoch (horse), which became the nominative-case eochaidh (horseman), which, after mac (son of), became the genitive-case eochadha. In speech, the mac before the aspirated e of eochadha, was pronounced mag. Other forms of McGough in Gaelic were mag Eochy and mag Eochu. See Origins of McGough and More Irish Names Derived from "Horse".

My page on the Origins of the Surname McGough discusses the history of our family name, and is a helpful supplement to this page.

McGough, McGeough, McGeogh, Magough, Mageough, and Mageogh are forms of the same family name. In public, church, and estate records in Ireland in the 19th century and earlier, the various forms of the surname were often used interchangeably to describe the same person or family. For example, the International Genealogical Index (IGI) uses all three common spellings of McGough in the same family: James McGeogh and Elizabeth McEvoy are listed by the IGI as parents of Mary McGeogh born on June 25, 1866, in Dundalk, Louth, Ireland; and Ann McGeogh born on March 5, 1868, in Louth, Ireland. James McGeough and Eliza McEvoy are listed by the IGI as parents of James McGeough, born on December 6, 1872, in Louth. James McGough and Elizabeth McEvoy are listed by the IGI as the parents of Bridget McGough born on June 12, 1875, in Dundalk, Louth, Ireland. For an example of the use of McGough, Meough, and McEogh interchangeably, see the excerpts from the Blayney estate rent records in McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in the Civil Parish of Clontibret on this website.

The names Peter McGough, Peter McGeough, and Peter McGeogh are used to describe the same person in the townland of Seytrim (or Sytrim, now Sheetrim) in the parish of Creggan, baron of Upper Fews, county Armagh, in Freeholders' Records of the early 1800s. See my page: McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Armagh.

The surname of the Hugh McGough who was born in Bothwell, Lanark, Scotland, in 1851, was spelled McGeogh in the 1881 census of Scotland, McGough in the 1891 census, and McGeough in the 2001 census. See my page: Hugh McGoughs in History.

English-speaking government clerks in Ireland were under legal and social pressure to make Irish names look like English names, and may have favored McGough because they were familiar with the unrelated Welsh-English name of Gough. In his Irish Families: Their Names, Arms and Origins (1957) (pages 23–4), Edward Mac Lysaght describes the process by which "names of tenants were inscribed in rentals by strangers brought in to act as clerks, who attempted to write down phonetically what they regarded as outlandish names" and the "tendency to give Irish names an English appearance." The Irish in Ireland today regard McGeough as closer in spelling to the Gaelic origin of the name, Mac Eochadha, and closer to the Irish pronunciation. In the United States and England, McGough is by far the most common spelling of the name; in Ireland, where the name originated, McGeough has become the most common version in modern times.

What Sharon L. Krossa says (under the heading "Name Transformation or "Translation") about the transformation of Gaelic names to English applies to the transformation of both Scots and Irish names:

"Finally, some transformations only involved rendering the sound of a name or byname from one language into the orthography (spelling system) of another, as in the case of Gaelic 'Mac Eoin' appearing as 'Macane' (and variants) in Scots language documents.

"Given this tendency to transform names & bynames, it becomes significant, when examining the available period examples of Gaelic names & bynames, that the vast majority of documents in medieval Scotland were written in Latin and Scots, not in Gaelic. Most of the Gaelic name & byname examples we have are from Scots and Latin documents, and so were written using Scots and Latin spelling rules, not Gaelic spelling rules. Especially the later you get in period, the clerks writing these names & bynames were rarely Gaelic speakers themselves, and so were writing down what they thought they heard, as opposed to what the actual name & byname may have been. This is very like what happened to people's names when they arrived on Ellis Island from Europe, and ended up with Anglicized surnames based on how the clerks there mangled up the original surname. This means how the actual owners of these names & bynames pronounced them may not be how they appear in the Scots and Latin documents. It also means that this is not how a person literate in Gaelic would have spelled them when writing a document in Gaelic (though it may or may not be close to how such a Gaelic literate person would have spelled them when writing in Scots or Latin)."

A reference worth reading is Quick and Easy Gaelic Names by Sharon L. Krossa.

 Table of Contents 

McGough or McGeough

The major argument over spelling of the name is whether it should be McGough or McGeough. More than one of my uncles would become apoplectic at the suggestion that there should be an e in our name. I grew up on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle within a few blocks of a McGeough family, but I recall no concession of the part of either family that one of the spellings was more correct.

There are inconsistent spellings of the surname today, even among members of the same family. In the families of Michael McGough and Rose Halton and Owen McGeough and Bridget Kennedy, different members of each family spell the name differently and, in some cases, the same person has used both McGough and McGeough. Throughout this website, I have tried to record the spellings of the name as they appeared in the source.

Beginning in the twelfth century, there are many examples of the use of an eo in the anglicized version of the name. There are also examples of the use of oa, ou, and au (although on this website, I generally treat the McGaughs as a separate family). The oldest spelling of the surname McGough in English that I have found is the citation by Peadar Livingstone in The Monaghan Story, at page 593, of a pardon granted to Henry Mageogh in 1592. Livingstone provides no more details.

There is a townland of Ballymageogh and a mountain called Slievemageogh in county Down. According to respectable authority, the names came from the Mhigh Eotach or Mac Eochy family who migrated from county Monaghan to county Down between the years 1150 and 1200. Mhigh Eotach or Mac Eochy has since been anglicized as McGeough and McGough. Place-Names of Northern Ireland, Volume Three, County Down III, The Mournes (The Queen's University of Belfast 1993), at page 25, lists all the pre-1700 spellings, and a selection of post-1700 spellings, of Ballymageogh. The spellings of the McGough part of the townland name, in chronological order of first appearance, are: mcgoagh, macgoagh, mageogh (2), magough (3), magoagh, maghugh, maglough (?), megaugh, magogh, Meg Eoacha, Mageogh, McGeoch, and MicEoch. See Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea—Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down.

Ann McGeough Harney reports a Thomas McGeoyck, a 21 year old laborer from Ireland, who arrived in New York from Liverpool (or Queenstown/Cork) on April 16, 1878, aboard the SS Montana. She comments: "The way his surname is spelled is how I heard my birth name pronounced in the north of Ireland . . . just below the border I heard (sounds like) McGeau and as many variations in spelling as in pronunciation!"

In the Hearth Money Rolls Rolls of 1663 and 1665, the name appears as McGeogh, McGeough or McGogh. There is no reference to McGough. The name also appears as McGorke and McGorky. Torlogh McGorke is listed in 1663 in the townland of Elvey in the parish of Errigal Trough. Torlogh McGeogh is listed for the same townland in 1665. Dunsleve McGorky is listed for 1663 in the townland of Glasmullagh in the parish of Errigal Trough. He appears as Dunsleve McGeough in 1665 in the same townland. See Hearth Money Rolls for County Monaghan: McGeogh, McGeough, and McGogh. Dunsleve is the anglicized version of the Gaelic Dunsleibe.

The name of Robert McGeogh also appeared as Robert McGorke in subsidy rolls of the parish of Kildress in county Tyrone is 1666. The subsidy rolls of county Tyrone in 1666 for the barony of Dungannon show that Robert McGeogh paid two installments of a subsidy to the king, each of of £3 0 11, on property in the civil parish of Kildress. Elsewhere in the same document, also under the parish Kildress, the name of the same payer of another installment was reported as Robert McGorke. Since only three persons in Kildress were making payments—obviously all men of affluence—I am almost certain that Robert McGeogh and Robert McGorke were the same person. See my page: McGoughs, McGeoughs and McGoughs in County Tyrone.

One list of modern spellings of traditional Celtic names shows only MacGeogh. This form of the name has almost vanished in both in Ireland and in the United States.

The Irish telephone directory for counties Monaghan and Louth for the year 2006 shows fifty-five McGeoughs, but only two McGoughs. Go to the Golden Pages, click on Phone Book, and do a residential search.

US census information is often unreliable in determining the appropriate spelling of a McGough family's surname. For example, in the censuses of the town of Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, for 1850 through 1870, the surname of the family of David and Mary McGough is variously spelled as McGoff in 1850, McGough in 1855, Magough in 1860, McGough in 1865, and McGoff in 1870. In the censuses of the town of Milo, Yates County, New York, the surname of the family of Patrick McGough is spelled McGough in 1855, 1860 and 1865, but as Goff in 1870 and Magoff in 1875. In many places in the United States, the name has been spelled phonetically—McGue. See Inconsistent Census Reporting, a page in this website; and Battle of Little Big Horn—Peter McGue, McGoff, McGough on my Odds and Ends page. Many other records contain internal inconsistencies that suggest a mistake. For example, in Christian County, Kentucky, on June 22, 1810, John McGue married Polly Brooks. The witnesses were John McGough and Robert Means. See Kentucky Marriage Records, Christian County, 1797-1825, page 128, on The 1880 Belden's Historical Atlas For Lambton Co., Ontario (Index), published on Granny's Genealogy Garden #1, apparently lists Mrs. James McGough as "Mrs. McGue."


Here is an email message from Ann McGeough Harney:

"Re: McG[e]o[u]gh.

"My first US ancestors were recorded every which way (by others)—until the first US educated came of age—and it was recorded McGeough from then on. On my website, I make the point that, according to Evelyn Shirley's book, in Monaghan there were 10 McGough families and no McGeoughs. The film agrees with this. Think they are probably all variations ... there is also McGeogh that was popular.

"This year I fell into a study of priests of the name in Clogher and Armagh ... they are all recorded as McGeough except in government records, where they often became McGough. Another thought is most all of the name that were of the Protestant persuasion are spelled McGough. They might have had more reason to 'English' the name. One exception ... Arthur in Newry 1766. They have kept the 'e' throughout the generations, and the McGeough-Bond family of Armagh (assumed Bond in 1824)—and even they had descendants that became Goff.

"The Livingstone and Rushe books have only McGeogh or McGeough ... English / Irish or Catholic / Protestant or educated / not educated?? In my NSHO I can only wonder why would one add a letter to a name? It is easier to subtract a letter in order to make it easier to read or write for those who either do not speak / understand your language—or understand your brogue."


In the 1800s, McGough was the most common form of the name in public records in both Ireland and the United States. McGough remains the most common form of the name in the United States, while McGeough has become more common in Ireland.

The History of County Monaghan by Evelyn Philip Shirley, published in 1879, contains the Census of the County Monaghan, 1659, in appendix III, pages 551–559. A table at the end of the census shows the Principal Irish Names in the county. McGough is shown as being used by ten heads of families and is listed as the 31st most common name. There is no mention of McGeogh, McGeough, or McGogh, which are the only versions of the name that show up in Rushe's copy of the Hearth Money Rolls, which were prepared four and six years later. There were McGeoughs and McGeoghs in county Monaghan when the 1659 census was taken, and conglomerating all these persons under the name McGough shows the tendency of English clerks to "English" a name. (Shirley notes that, of the 1850 townlands in the county of Monaghan, only 499 are named in the census.) On the other hand, in the 1659 census of county Armagh, four McGeoughs are listed, and no McGoughs. I found neither McGoughs, McGeoughs, nor McGeoghs in the 1659 census in any other county. See: A Census of Ireland, circa 1659, edited by Seamus Pender (1939), which is film #924648 in the Family History Library.

Interchangeability of McGeough and McGough

Edward McGough of Edinburgh, Scotland, insists flatly that McGough and McGeough are the same name. In a fax to me of August 12, 1998, he says: "The spelling was simply down to the person/priest recording the birth and, as very few were literate, variations were rarely noticed or cared about." He has relatives in Ireland who spell the name McGough, McGeough, and Magough. He also says:

"When you appreciate the various brogues spoken locally, it may be easier to hear the way some people would think names were spelt. Sometimes the priest wrote down the given name of the baby while at the christening celebrations and did not enter them into the official register until a few days later when his mind had cleared. He may enter the wrong parents or mismatch family members; i.e., two sisters-in-law could have been pregnant at the same time and in the blur of the festivities it might be a guess at which one was the mother of the baby he had christened. Many babies were given middle names because infant mortality was high. All families wanted an adult son named after, say, the father John and christen him as such. But the following year another son would be called John Joseph and then John Patrick to ensure that at least one survived to carry on the name. This is why there are so many Rose-Anns, Rose Marys, etc.".

Edward McGough says: "My grandfather was John McGough, although his sisters were registered at birth as McGeough, it all depended on how the priest felt it should be written and with the high level of illiteracy very few noticed or argued the spelling."

Peter McGeough was born in county Monaghan, Ireland, in 1857, and moved to Lynn, Massachusetts with his parents and siblings in 1877. He is the great-great-grandfather of Sheryl Bansfield of Lynn, Massachusetts, who says that the family name first appeared as McGough in the Lynn City Directory of 1878 and was corrected to McGeough in 1885. Peter married Mary Ann Harrington in 1880 in Lynn, Massachusetts, had children, and died there in April of 1917.

The Peter McGeough who is listed in the Tithe Applotment Books in 1833 for county Armagh, parish of Kilmore, townland of Lurgancott, is listed in 1851 as Peter McGough (age 49, married in 1844) in the 1841/1851 Northern Ireland Census Abstracts, Part II—1851 Census from Old Age Pension Records by Josephine Masterson, page 350. (Living with him were his wife, Ann, 36; his daughter, Margaret, 5; a niece, Anne, 20; and a nephew, James, 18. Two sons had died: Dennis, apparently at birth in 1847; and Bernard at three months in 1849. All these persons are listed as McGoughs.) See the line following #56 in my table in McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Ireland in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By County, Parish, and Townland.

Beth Heinrich of Palos Hills, Illinois, a descendant of Michael McGough and Rosanna Halton of Lindsay, Ontario, favored me with this information. (To put these comments in context, go to the link.)

"On several of the papers accumulated in Canada, Michael's last name is spelled McGeough, and other times, McGough. The church records of St. Mary's parish have the last name spelled three different ways. In Canada, at least two families pronounce the name much differently (McGaw, McGew, etc.). On the tombstone in St. Mary's, the name is also spelled McGeough. Living relatives still spell it with the 'e'. And my relatives from the past insisted (especially Mary, Michael & Rose's eldest daughter) that you use the 'e'. However, Thomas, the middle son, dropped the e, as did John in Eau Claire. In some records, Bernard also has the McGough spelling, but all are of the same family.

"My aunt has the business card of the son, Michael McGeough (as he spelled it). He was a contractor in Lindsay and helped to build at least one of the schools there, which has since been demolished. The same aunt is also the proud owner of a prayer book belonging the to the patriarch of our family, Michael. Its' well worn pages were undoubtedly read over and over through the generations. Inside, it says Michael McGeough. I don't know why many of our relatives decided to drop the 'e', or it is possible they added it? Another mystery ... "

Owen McGough was born in, Ireland about 1816. His parents were Michael McGeough, who died sometime before November 1, 1842, and Bridget Murphy, both of whom were born in county Armagh, Ireland. Owen's birth name was McGeough, but he dropped the e upon moving to Barron County, Wisconsin, about 1872. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he had the e dropped for him. The story of his family is told on a separate page of this website, Owen McGough and Bridget Kennedy of Barron County, Wisconsin. Owen McGough’s great-great grandson is James McGeough of Castro Valley, California. Here is an email message from him:

"Owen McGeough was born in Ireland in 1815 and immigrated to Canada in 1840–42. Canadian censuses have his surname spelled McGough, McGeough, and McGowe. Who really knows? He moved to Barron County Wisconsin (not too far from Eau Claire) in 1871. He brought with him several sons and a few daughters.

"One of Owen's grandsons, James, was my grandfather. He spelled his name McGough. The curious thing was that all of his siblings spelled it McGeough. After my grandfather died, we looked through some Wisconsin land deeds and saw that he originally spelled it McGeough. We don't know why he took the 'e' out.

"A year after his death, my immediate family went to court and had the 'e' re-installed. My father, Allyn, also changed his spelling to include the 'e'. My uncle Duane, Allyn's brother, did not add the 'e' due to his profession. Strange how this stuff happens."

Here is an email message from Bill McGough:

"The McGough/McGeough names are the same but split, I believe over religious beliefs. Robert McGough came to America a Protestant and from what I have found from a research paper that was written in 1963, the McGoughs and McGeoughs were the same family, but divided for some reason, and became two different families. I tried to get all the information about the research paper and put it on the web, but the family who paid to have it done will not let me do that."

Here is a note from Al Beagan's Genealogy Notes of County Monaghan:

"'Big Jim McGough' was my father's ('Little Jim') first cousin, though they were vastly different in age. My father's father, John, was a mason, and came from Glasslough, Belderg, Co. Monaghan. They lived in Brooklyn. I met Big Jim several times as a child and as a young adult. John took his family back to Ireland after his wife died in the 1918 flu epidemic. We still keep in touch with our McGeough cousins in Ireland. ... I enjoyed the fine research you've done. Thanks so much for the work. Susan McGough."

More than one American family has, after research, inserted an "e" in McGough and legally changed the name to McGeough. Frank McGough of Philadelphia says that his great-grandfather was Patrick McGeough of the townland of Cornamaddy, civil parish of Pomeroy, county Tyrone, and that his family dropped the e from the name in 1910. Genforum posting of July 31, 2001. I believe the name was listed as Patrick McGoughy in Griffith's Valuation of 1860. See the line immediately above #516 in my table in McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Ireland in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By County, Parish, and Townland.

Spellings other than McGough and McGeough

The oldest spellings I have found of the surname McGough are Mhigh Eotach sand Mac Eochy that were used to describe the McGough sept who migrated from county Monaghan to county Down between the years 1150 and 1200. See my web page Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea— Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down. The name of Garrett McEohee is listed in An Index to the Rebels of 1641 in the County Monaghan Depositions by Donald M. Schlegel (1995 Clogher Record, page 95). The entry in the depositions (page 179b) is: "Garrett McEohee kept some goods of Elizabeth Williams of Carrickmacross." The Irish version of this name was probably Gearoid Mac Eochaidh. [For a modern day Gearoid Mac Eochaidh, see the website of The Organic Centre in Rossinver, county Leitrim.] McEohee is a phonetic spelling of MacEochaid, the Irish origin of McGough. See Origins of the Surname McGough. Other older spellings reported are Magough (from birth records of the parish of Aughnamullen West), Magcogh and Mageogh (the latter two in Irish histories), and MacCough. English records of pardons granted to men of south Monaghan in 1592 list a Henry Mageogh (and a Hugh mc Brian mcEaghy —probably a form of McAghy). Farney Men of 1592, 1 Clogher Record #3, page 121 at 126.

The surname of my great-grandfather, John McGough, was shown as John McGeoy on his marriage records, John McGrough in his naturalization records, and John McGue in the Wisconsin federal census of 1860 and in several entries in directories of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. See my web pages McGoughs and McGues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1856–1906 and McGoughs and McGues in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the 1800s.

Other spellings reported, mostly in the United States, are: McGue, McGow, McGowe, and McCue. Deborah C. O'Reilly reports in her website ("McGeough Family Page: McGeough, McGough, McGeogh, McGow from Ireland."): "These are the spellings I found when researching my McGeough family line. Just as the spelling variations are many, so too, are the pronunciations of the name. For example, McGyow, McGow, McGuff, are renditions made by members of my family line."

McGow, more often than not, is a variation of McGowan, but it occasionally is used to describe a McGough. See The MacGowan Family History—(MacGowan, McGowen, Magowan, McGown, McGoune, M'Gowan and Smith, etc.)

Census returns of the town of Milo, Yates county, New York, use six variations of the surname in listing McGoughs from 1850 through 1900: Gough, Goff, Magoff, McGoff, McGow and McGough. Census returns of the town of Canandaigua, Ontario county, New York (see below), use three variation of the surname in listing the same family from 1850 through 1880: McGoff, McGough, and Magough.  See my page: Inconsistent Census Reporting

The Civil War Muster Rolls published by list the following surnames with the corrected spelling for all of them shown as McGough: McGaugh, McGeough, McGlough, McGoff, McGohey, McGoughy, McGrough, McGue, and McGuire. McGlough is more likely a form of McGloughlin or McGloughlan, names found in county Longford, and which are in turn probably forms of the much more common McLoughlin. (See Irish Ancestors) There were three listings for a Hugh McGlough and 2 listings for a James McGlough in Griffith's Valuation of the parish of Kildallen, county Cavan; listings for Hugh were in the townlands of Coolnashinny (or Croaghan), Killygowan, and Mullaghmullen. Listings for James were in the townlands of Coolnashinny (or Croaghan) and in Killygowan. An Edd McGlough listed in the 1900 US census of Prairie Creek township, Logan county, Illinois. The name should be McGough.

The family of Bernard McGough in the 1900 census of Emerson township, Faulk county, South Dakota, is mistakenly indexed as McLough. Two of his children are listed as McGoffs, living with their grandfather, Thomas Baker, in Orient township, Faulk county. The same children are listed as McLoughs, living with their father, Bernard. (In the index on to the 1885 territorial census of Faulk county, South Dakota, the name of Bernard McGough is indexed as Benone McEough.)

Kentucky Marriage Records, Christian County, 1797-1825, page 128, report the marriage of John McGue and Polly Brooks on June 22, 1810, in Christian County, Kentucky. John McGough and Robert Means are listed as witnesses to the marriage. The correct spelling of the groom's name is McGough. Carolyn McGough Rowe, in her prodigious work, A Glimpse of the Past: Descendants of Robert McGough, reports at page 78:

"John [McGough] was the oldest child of ROBERT MCGOUGH & AGNES 'NANCY' MCWHORTER, He was born about 1787 in Ft. Augusta, Richmond Co, GA. The family may have moved to Greene Co, GA. before moving to Hopkinsville, Christian Co., KY. about 1809. In Christian Co. John Married ELIZABETH 'POLLY' BROOKS (b 1780–1790 TN) on 26 Jun 1810. The family migrated down to Dallas Co, AL."

The International Genealogical Index lists McGo, McGoa, McGoe, and McGoo, apparently as phonetic equivalents, mostly located around Cumberland, England. In the record of the birth and marriage of Margaret McGoe, the Irish version of the name is shown as McGeogh:

"8. Margaret (McGeogh) McGoe—International Genealogical Index/BI Gender: F Birth: Abt. 1805 Of Monasterevan, Kildare, Ireland.

"9. Margaret (McGeogh) McGoe—International Genealogical Index/BI Gender: F Marriage: Abt. 1826 Of Monasterevan, Kildare, Ireland."

A Robert McGew witnessed the will of Mary Webb in the Middlesex Hundred in Baltimore county on January 16, 1775. The will was admitted to probate on January 26, 1775. Her heir was Jacob Waring. Calendar of Wills, volume 16, 1774–1777, Calendar of Wills 1774–1777, page 57, on A William McGoa witnessed the will of William Talbot of Baltimore county on February 25, 1752. The will was admitted to probate on April 14, 1752. Calendar of Wills, volume 10, 1748–1753, Calendar of Wills 1748–1753, page 224, on An Adam McGua was a creditor of the estate of Thomas Gibson under a will filed on September 3, 1769, Prerogative Court Abstracts 1769–1772, page 9, on

Anne Mackgeugh, the daughter of William Mackgeugh, was christened on May 11, 1770, at Berwick Upon Tweed, Northumberland, England, according to the IGI.

If you check the IGI for McGoff, you will find these surnames lumped together in one collection: McGeoch, McGoff, Mackgeak, McGeagh, McGaff, Mackgeugh, Magoc, McKeough, McGough, Magog, McKeogh, Mague, McGaugh, Megoach, McCulloch, McGuff, McGouch, McGue, McGeouch, and Megoo. The number of McGoughs and McGaffs in England on this list of 821 names surprised me. There are more English and fewer Irish McGoughs on this McGoff page than will be found by a search under "McGough." I do find the "International Genealogical Index - British Isles" page in the IGI with the 821 names, however, if I search for "M'Gough" or "Mc Gough" (with a space between the c and G). The geographical concentration of varied forms of the name support the conclusion that McGough often became Mague, McGaff, McGoff or McGuff in England.

The surname of Joshua McGeough is spelled as McGeough, McGraugh, McGeaugh, and McGeogh in the maps and inventories of real property in county Armagh; and Mageough in other records. See Maps of County Armagh, Down, Tyrone and Fermanagh and my web page McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Armagh under the heading McGeough Maps in County Armagh. (There is a Mageough Home for Protestant Ladies in Dublin with records dating back to 1869.)

Here is an excerpt from an email from Sheryl Bansfield: "Also visited with Theo McMahon and he added a new curve to my search. He believes my McGeough may have also been Magohy, MacGoughy, MacGohy, McGough, and so on!!! "

In preparing my original table McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Ireland in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By County, Parish, and Townland, I omitted the McGoughy families in counties Monaghan, Tyrone and Antrim, a decision I have now reversed. Sheryl Bansfield, in the McGeough section of Sheryl's Family Tree (when her website was available), says that Magoughy, McGoghy and McGoughy, are forms of McGeough.

Some other names I noted in the ship lists that comprise the seven volumes of The Famine Immigrants are: Gaughan, Goughan, Gouth, McGarigh, McGeoghe, McGeowy, McGoff, McGorgh, McGouch, McGouck, McGoug--, McGought, McGourty, and McGoutt. If an "n" sound is included, add Magaghan, McGugan, McGuigan, McGun, McGune, McGunes. If Mc, Mac, Mag and Ma are regarded as interchangeable parts, permutations in the spelling of the name expand geometrically.

Here is a posting of June, 1996, from IrishRoots:

"Searching for McGUE (USA version of name) McGOUGH, McGEOUGH. Hugh and Mary left Kilanny Parish, Co. Monaghan, Ireland 1846 or 1855 according to two different sources. Settled in Milan Ohio. Came with daughter, Mary, and wife's brother James Halpin and wife Catherine (Farnam)."

For more on this McGue family and the McGues in Ohio, see Distribution of McGoughs in the United States under McGues.

The 1881 census of the village of Port Clarence, county Durham, England (parliamentary division of South Durham, rural sanitary district of Stockton, ecclesiastical district of Haverton Hill, civil parish of Cooper Bewley), lists: John Mc Gue, married, age 36, a furnaceman (iron), born in county Tyrone, Ireland, with his wife, Ellen Mc Gue, age 30, born in Newcastle, Northumberland county, England; and their three children, all of whom were born in Port Clarence, Durham county, England: Mary Mc Gue. age 5; Hugh Mc Gue, age 3; and Ann Mc Gue, age 6 months. Mc Gue is a mistake, a phonetic spelling of McGough. See: Hugh McGough [1978] on my page Hugh McGoughs in History.

In the 1790 census of Ninety-Six District, Abbeville County, South Carolina, John McGough is listed as John McGuough (with 2 free white males under 16, who would be his sons Robert and William, and 4 free white females). See A Scots-Irish John McGough—A Seattle Connection—Emigration of Presbyterian McGoughs in 1773.

McGuff becomes McGough

Breda Reynolds Raftery tells me that some members of her family in county Galway changed the name McGuff to McGough. Her grandfather was born Patrick McGuff in 1873 in Tuam, county Galway. On his birth certificate, both his name and the name of his father appear as Patrick McGuff.

Her grandfather married Mary Hogan (whose surname had once been Geoghegan) at Hazelwood, Tuam, on January 28, 1905. On the marriage certificate, her grandfather's name appears as Patrick McGough of Cartonroe, Tuam, county Galway. This Patrick lived to the age of 96. His wife, Mary, was born in 1879, and died in childbirth in 1919. The children of Patrick McGough and Mary Hogan all used the surname McGough: Patrick, born in January of 1906; Mary, born in May of 1907; Julia, born in April of 1909; James, born in May of 1911; Richard, born in October of 1913; Bridget, born in July of 1915 (Breda's mother, who passed way in 1999 at age 85); John, born on June 21, 1917; and Margaret, born in May of 1919. These children were all born in Tuam, county Galway. Her uncle John moved to the Boston area in the 1940s, and died there in 2000. The Social Security Death Index shows a John McGough of Springfield, Hampden county, Massachusetts, who was born on June 21, 1917, and who died on February 15, 2000.

The fact that McGuff was changed to McGough is some evidence that McGuff previously had been McGough.

Breda's great-grandfather, Patrick McGuff, was from Peake, Barnadearg, Tuam, county Galway. He married Judy Finn. Children, all born in Tuam, were: Sally, born 1864; Mary, born 1866; Richard, born 1867; Catherine, born 1868; Margaret, born 1870; Michael, born 1871; Patrick (Breda's grandfather), born 1873; William, born 1876; Honor (Nora), born 1878. With the exception of Patrick, these children apparently all used the surname McGuff. Honor moved to the United States and settled in Holyoke, Massachusetts, near Boston. Most of the McGuffs who remained in Ireland are buried in Cartronroe graveyard, Tuam, county Galway. Cartronroe is a 362 acre townland in the barony of Dunmore, parish of Tuam, county of Galway, province of Connaught. I am assuming that Cartonroe and Cortonroe are different spellings of the same place. In the Glenamaddy Parish Newsletter of May 28, 2000, published by St. Patrick's Church of Tuam, appears this notice: "Your prayers, please: For ... John McGough, Cortoonroe, Tuam, uncle of Breda Raftery, Clondoyle, brother of the late Bridie Reynolds, Tuam." Breda Raftery tells me:

"The name of the place is Cartoonroe where my Grandfather came from. There is no cemetery there. The cemetery is in Cortoon, the north side of Tuam. ... The Glenamaddy newsletter you mentioned is where I live 20 miles from Tuam, in Clondoyle, a beautiful place, in a cul de sac away from traffic surrounded by nature."

McGuff was a common name in Tuam, county Galway, in the 1800s. The CD-Rom index of Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, 1848-1864 (published by Family Tree Maker's Family Archives) lists a Patrick McGuff three times in the parish of Tuam, county Galway, in the townlands of Cartonroe and Kilaloonty, and on Galway Road in the town of Tuam. Also listed on the Galway Road in the town of Tuam were Mary and Thomas McGuff. Breda Raftery says: "The McGoughs from Kilaloonty on the Galway Road Tuam were no relation to me. You have written that my mother Bridie Reynolds died in 2000. The correct year is 1999."

The LDS Family Search Index shows the following McGuffs in Tuam: Bridget McGuff, born on December 14, 1865, to Michael McGuff and Mary McWalter; and Michael McGuff, born on September 9, 1868, to Michael McGuff and Mary Qualter. My guess is that Mary McWalter and Mary Qualter are the same person. On May 7, 2002, Rita M. Qualter sent me an email with this statement:

"My name is Rita Qualter. My grandfather was Peter McWalter, born in Garrafrauns, Co. Galway, Ireland. You are correct that the names were used interchangeably in Ireland. When I asked a cousin of mine in Ireland why my grandfather would have changed his name from McWalter to Qualter when emigrating to the United States, she replied 'why not? They're the same name.'"

An Honor McGuff was born on May 29, 1864, to Matthew McGuff and Ellen Kilbeg.

The County Galway Surname List, part of the RootsWeb Galway pages, has no listing for McGuff, but two for McGough—In the 1850s, Michael McGough, born in 1812, and Patrick McGough, his son, were both sent to Western Australia as convicts.

McGough becomes McGoff

In the 1881 census of the township of Onslow North, Pontiac county, Quebec, Canada, Michael McGough is listed as age 64, born in Ireland in 1817, a farmer, married to Honor McGough, age 66, born in Ireland in 1815. The marriage records of county Mayo, Ireland, show that Michael McGough married Honor Dolan there on March 12, 1841. Marriages in the Castlebar/Aglish Parish 1840–1855. See my page: McGoughs in County Mayo. Michael McGough was buried under the name McGoff, as were his son, his grandson, and later generations. See my page: McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Canada in the Nineteenth Century.

Henry John McGough is listed as Henry McGoff in the 1901 census of Jacques Cartier Ward of Quebec city. See my page: McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Canada in the Nineteenth Century. Henry's half-sister, Melvina McGough, who was born to John McGough and Angele Cote on June 29, 1849, at L'Isle Verte, Quebec, Canada. She married Robert Roy dit Lauzier, and died on August 19, 1916, at Fort Kent, Aristook, Maine, USA. The name on her gravestone in St. Louis Cemetery, Fort Kent, Maine, is: DELVINA McGOFF, spouse of Robert Lauzier. A memorial document calls her: Dame Malvina McGauff. See Joan Lozier' Genealogy Website for: Levesque, Lozier, Macola, Messina.

In the 1910 census of Binghamton, Broome county, New York, Owen McGoff, age 23, single, born in Ireland, who immigrated in 1906, was residing at and working as an attendant at the Binghamton state Hospital (line 9). 1910 United States Federal Census > New York > Broome > Binghamton Ward 12 > District 35 on This may be the Owen McGough who was born in Knockreagh Lower, Donaghmoyne parish, county Monaghan, Ireland, in about 1888.

The 1920 census of Binghamton, Broome county, New York, lists Owen McGough who is definitely the Owen McGough who was born in Knockreagh Lower. Owen and his family were living in the same house, at 136 Vistal Avenue, as Owen's brother, James McGough, age 38, born in Ireland, who immigrated in 1905 and was working as a truckman for a railroad company (T-625, roll 1086, page 10A, line 20). Owen McGough was the head of his own family, age 29, born in Ireland, who had immigrated in 1916, who was working as a splitter in a shoe factory, and who was paying rent to James. Owen's wife, Catherine McGough, age 25, born in Ireland, had also emigrated in 1912, With them were a daughter, Mary, age 5, born in New York, and a son, Andrew, age 3, born in New York. See my page: McGoughs and McGues in the 1900 Census of the United States under Elmira, Chemung county, New York.

In the 1930 census of Binghamton, Broome county, New York, Owen McGough is listed as Owen McGoff, age 41, born in Northern Ireland, with a home worth $6500, who was married at age 25, emigrated in 1909, was naturalized, a tanner in a shoe factory, living with his wife, Katie, age 37, married at age 19, born in Northern Ireland, and four children, all listed as born in Northern Ireland: Mary E. McGoff, age 15; Eugene McGoff, age 13; Francis McGoff, age 7; and Jack McGoff, age 6. The McGoffs were living at 46 Pennsylvania Avenue. With them was a cousin, Dennis Clarey, age 30, single, born in Northern Ireland, who immigrated in 1924 (roll 1407, page 5A, line 16). In 1930, Owen's brother, James McGough, age 46, born in Ireland, a freight handler for a steam railroad, was also living in Binghamton with his wife, Anna McGough,age 45, born in Ireland, son, Peter J. McGough, age 18, and daughter, Anna, age 17 (both born in New York) at 136 Vistal Avenue (roll 1407, page 17A, line 18). Succeeding generations of the family of Owen Joseph McGoff continued to use the surname McGoff.

Even though he was listed as Owen McGough in the 1920 census of Binghamton, Owen registered for the WWI draft in Binghamton on June 5, 1917, as Owen McGoff, age 29, born in Castle Glen, Ireland, on August 12, 1888, married with 2 children, employed as a clerk for the Erie Railroad, and living at 11 Emerson, Binghamton. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 > New York > Binghamton City > 2 > Draft Card on

On August 31, 1951, Owen McGoff, age 62, a US citizen, residing at 46 Plain Avenue, Binghamton, New York, with his wife, Katie, age 60, arrived in the Port of New York from Cobh, Ireland, aboard the SS Washinton. New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957 > 1951 > August > 31 > Washington on

James McGough (1879–1966) is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Broome County, Johnson City, New York, under the name McGough. His brother Owen Joseph McGoff (1885–1958) is buried in the same cemetery under the name McGoff as his brother James, Calvary Cemetery in Broome County, Johnson City, New York. (Another brother, Frank McGeough (1880–1960), is buried in Ireland under the name McGeough, in Old St. Patrick's Cemetery Broomfield, county Monaghan.)

For other McGoughs who were known as McGoffs, either temporarily or permanently, go to the home page of this website and Google the site for McGoff.

McGough becomes McGue

Hugh McGue of Milan, Ohio, was born Hugh McGough in county Monaghan, Killanny parish, Ireland, in 1821. He married Mary Halpin, who was born in county Monaghan in 1822. Killanny Parish straddles the border between counties Monaghan and Louth. (For a list of some of the many McGoughs in Killanny Parish in the 1800s, look under the barony of Farney in McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Monaghan in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By Barony, Parish, and Townland, lines 399 to 431.) Hugh and Mary Halpin McGue emigrated to the United States in 1855 (one source says 1846) with a daughter, Mary (b. Ireland 1841), perhaps other children, and Mary Halpin McGough's brother James Halpin and his wife, Catherine Farnan Halpin. The family history is that Hugh and Mary Halpin McGough walked from Cleveland to Milan, Ohio, where the family ultimately farmed about 500 acres of land. The old McGue homestead in Milan had a plaque over the door, proclaiming it an Ohio Historical Site. Hugh McGue is buried in St. Anthony's cemetery in Milan, Ohio, where most of his family is buried. His gravestone bears the inscription: "Hugh McGue, County Monaghan, Killanny Parish." See my page: Distribution of McGoughs in the United States under McGues.

Hugh McGue and his wife Mary Halpin left county Monaghan, Ireland about 1846–1855 with four children: Mary, Bridget, Roseann, and Marie. They settled in Milan, Erie county, Ohio, where three additional children were born: Thomas, James, and Hugh. In the 1860 census of Milan, Erie county, Ohio, the family is listed as both Gough and McGough. See my page: McGoughs and McGues in the 1860 Census of the United States. By 1870, and always afterwards, the family was listed as McGue. Hugh McGue, age 50, born in Ireland, is listed in the 1870 census of Milan township, Erie county, Ohio. Hugh was a farm laborer, living with his wife, Mary [Halpin], age 50 and born in Ireland, and daughter Mary, age 24 and born in Ireland; daughter Rose Anna, age 19, and born in Ireland; son James, age 17, born in Ohio; son Hugh, age 13, born in Ohio; and son Thomas, age 8, born in Ohio. See my page: McGoughs and McGues in the 1870 Census of the United States.

In our own family, the name McGue was often used in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but the spelling has always reverted to McGough. See my pages: McGoughs and McGues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1856–1906 and McGoughs and McGues in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the 1800s.

For other McGoughs who were known as McGues, either temporarily or permanently, go to the home page of this website and Google the site for McGue.


There is a River Maigue in county Limerick, Ireland. This beautiful river rises just south of Bruree (of Eamon DeValera fame) and flows to the north into the River Shannon on the shore opposite Bunratty. The river passes to the east and south of the village of Adare, which is about 9 miles southeast of the town of Limerick on the busy road leading to Killarney. See: Fishery: River Maigue, Co Limerick on the website of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Guide. The Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, page 244 (May 22.1865), says the origin of Maigue is the Gaelic Maeg, river of the plain, and that one of the "distinctly marked provincial peculiarities" of Munster is to end the pronunciation with a hard g. A posting on Language Forums says that Maigue is pronounced Mi-ugg.The same idea is expressed in The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places, by Patrick Weston Joyce (Second Edition, Dublin, McGlashan & Gill, April 1870), chapter II, Systematic Changes, page 31:

"One of the most distinctly marked peculiarities, so far as names are concerned, is the pronunciation that prevails in Munster of the final gh, which is sounded there like English hard g in fig. Great numbers of local names are influenced by this custom. ... The present name of the River Maigue, in Limerick, is formed on the same principle, its Irish names as written in old authorities, being Maigh, that is the river of the plain. Nearly all Munster names ending in g hard are illustrations of this peculiar pronunciation."

The first reference that I found in the Annals of the Four Masters to the River Maigue was in


"A Franciscan monastery was founded at Ath-dara, in Munster, in the diocese of Limerick, on the banks of the River Maigh, by Thomas, Earl of Kildare, and his wife Joan, daughter of James, Earl of Desmond, who erected a tomb for themselves in it."

The Gaelic version of the name of the river is Maighe and John O'Donovan, in his footnote q., describes it as "the River Maigue, in the barony of Kenry, county of Limerick, and about nine miles south-west of the city of Limerick."

There is a reference to the "salmon-full Maigue" in M 1580.18, where O'Donovan's note z says the river, in Irish, is called Mhaig. See also M1598.31 and M1601.40 (note i), both of whioch sections spell the nme of the river as Maigue.

In a chapter called Adare town and parish, barony of Coshma, County Limerick, Ireland in A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) by Samuel Lewis, the author refers to the River Maigue twice, first as Mague, and second by its correct name, Maigue. Elsewhere in the book, Lewis usually, but not always, spells the name correctly as Maigue. For example, see the articles on Ballycahan, a parish, partly in the barony of Small county, but chiefly in that of Pubblebien, county of Limerick; Bruree, or Brughrigh, a parish, partly in the barony of Small county, but chiefly in that of Upper Connello, county of Limerick; Coleman's Well, or Clouncoragh, a parish, in the barony of Upper Connello East, county of Limerick; Cahircorney, a parish, in the barony of Small County, county of Limerick; Croom, a post-town and parish, partly in the barony of Pubblebrien, but chiefly in that of Coshma, county of Limerick; Disert, or Carrigeen, a parish, in the barony of Coshma, county of Limerick; Kilkeedy, a parish, partly in the county of the city of Limerick (where the name also appears as Mague).

I give these references to the Annals and other sources to show that the correct spelling of the river is Maigue because the i has often been mistakenly dropped, and the name misspelled Mague. Mague is a sometime spelling of the surname McGough, and when so used has no relation to the River Maigue. So far as I can determine, no Irish family has taken its surname from the name of the river.

Mague is a French surname. Searching Google for Mague France will turn up many examples. Several families have brought the surname from France to the United States. For examples, go to the US census records on and insert Mague as a last name, and France after lived in. Substitute Ireland for France, and you will find a Thomas Mague family in Pawtucket, Bristol county, Massachusetts, in the 1850 census; and several other Magues born in Ireland in later censuses. I have included these persons (and other Magues where Irish origins appear to be a possibility) in my pages on McGoughs in the census of the United States from 1790 through 1900. My theory is that these Magues are, more often than not, a phonetic spelling of McGough.


Another variation of the McGough name deserves special mention. In Boston, there is a family business named The M-Geough Company, a representative of manufacturers of high-end fine furniture, lighting and accessories. Managers of the business are Jim and Susan M-Geough.

This name was called to my attention by Michelle McGoff who sent me a copy of an article from the Ask the Globe column in the Boston Globe of Friday, March 9, 2001:

"Q. Recently the Globe ran an obituary of a person whose surname was M-Geough. The spelling seemed unusual. Could you explain the origin of the name?

"A. The McGeough family immigrated to the United States from Scotland by way of Ireland. As generations passed, the letter c in McGeough was dropped, replaced with a dash, and the spelling became legal, according to the M-Geough family member we spoke with.. "

Here is an obituary from the Boston Globe of December 20, 2000, sent to me by Ann McGeough Harney:

"1. M-Geough, Sarah A. Dedham Westwood Marblehead

"Of Dedham, formerly of Westwood, December 18 [2000], Sarah A. (Marsh) M-Geough. Beloved wife of the late James M. M-Geough. Devoted mother of Marsha M-Geough Vaughan and her husband Allan P. Vaughan of Pride's Crossing, MA, James M. M-Geough, Jr. and his wife Susan E. M-Geough of Marblehead. Grandmother of Sarah Elisabeth Robinson of Plainville and the late Aimee Standish (Robinson) Joline. Daughter of the late Theodore T. Marsh and Florence (Boynton) Marsh. Funeral Service at the First Parish United Church, Clapboardtree St., Westwood, ... Interment Brookdale Cemetery, Dedham. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sally's memory to City Mission Society, United Church of Christ, 14 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108. Graduate of Wheelock College, Class of 1933, Boston University Bachelor of Science in Education, Co-Founder of M-Geough Co. Inc. of Boston, Past President of the National Home Fashions League, New England and National Chapters."

Here is an email of March 13, 2001, from Jim M-Geough:

Dear Hugh:

Thanks for the e-mail. It is always good to know more magoos. I have not had a chance to go through your web site but I will.

My dad James Malcolm M-Geough was born in 1897 and died in 1976. I was born in 1945. The M- is a long story and some time I will tell it to you. I believe we came over from County Cavan, Patrick who is my great- grandfather with his 3 sons and wife Mary. My grandfather, James A. McGeough, had two sons: my dad and a brother Charles who was a bachelor. I have a sister Marsha M-Geough.


In the Social Security Death Index, the hyphen is ignored and the name M-Geough is indexed under MGeough. James MGeough of Norfolk, Massachusetts, for example, is shown as having been born on July 24, 1897, and having died in December of 1976. The only other MGEOUGH listed is S. MGEOUGH whose birth date is listed as August 10, 1911 and date of death as December 1, 2000. This is the Sara A. M-Geough whose obituary appears above.

Here is part of an email of May 30, 2002, to me from Sarah Robinson of Plainville, Massachusetts:

"As far as the 'c'/'-' change, this is my understanding of the situation. My g-grandfather was James A. McGeough. He was married and had 2 sons: James M. (my grandfather) and Charles T. (never married). James A. was killed in an accident when the boys were only about 20 & 16 years old, respectively, in 1917. James M. made the 'c'/'-' change, as legend has it, because of the 'Irish Need Not Apply' attitude at that time. He went into sales (fine furniture, which became the company my uncle Jim now runs) and needed to ensure an income since his father was not alive to provide for the rest of the family. Charles kept the McGeough name intact, though. Interestingly, we've also come across a hint that perhaps James A.'s wife (nee Therese Tozer) also dropped the 'c' for a '-' for business purposes: she did interior design work after she was widowed, and the Irish name could have been a detriment to her as well. She was of French descent so there was no personal attachment to Ireland—the practicality of the decision would have taken precedent. Her gravestone inscription left the 'c', though, so I'm not positive about this—it may have only been for business that she used the revised version.

"Incidentally, James A. McGeough was a state senator and state rep here in MA in the 1870–80s, and a South Boston Democrat at that, so the Irish name would never have been left behind by him. That's why I know none of the 'c' dropping could have been during his lifetime—he would never have stood for it."

James A. McGeough and his family are listed in my page on the 1900 census under Brookline, Norfolk county, Massachusetts.


A first cousin of mine, John Hugh (Jack) McGough, a son of my uncle, Justin Hugh McGough, changed his legal name to John Hugh McKinnon in 1972 "… not out of disrespect for the name McGough but because I got so tired of people asking me how to pronounce it, spell it, etc. I think I was a bit oversensitive." See McGoughs and McGues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1856–1906.


Many Irish and Scots families whose surname begins with a Mc have simplified the surname by making it Mack. For example, see Descendants of Andrew McNamara in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. See also: the descendants of John McNamara in Suffolk county, New York, and of Daniel McNamara in Wales; descendants in Massachusetts of John McNamara of Enniss, County Claire, Ireland (The Mack / McNamara Story by George L. Roberts, 3rd.) Jim McNamara, in RC Baptismal records for Feakle and Tulla (May 1860 through July 1880, county Clare) notes:

3.) The names MacNamara, McNamara, and Mack are used interchangeably by the priests. Transcriber confirmed from civil registration birth records of several individual names recorded as "Mack" were actually "McNamara."

Here is an excerpt from Pam's Blog: MacNamara-Mack Family History Posts:

"My grandfather, Matthew (MacNamara) Mack, was born on the 16 September 1878 on Taylor's Row, Tirpil, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales, the son of Irish parents, Daniel MacNamara and Catherine Donovan of County Cork. Matthew was baptized Roman Catholic in Rhymney Parish, Glamorgan, Wales on 13 Oct 1878. His baptism sponsors were Michael O'Dwyer and Catherine Foley.

"On the 1881 Wales census, Matthew Mack was living with his parents and brothers at 8 Glandwr Terrace, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, Wales. The family surname was MacNamara and all ten children’s births were registered as such, but by the 1881 census the entire family was using the surname Mack. It is unknown why the surname was shortened. After the death of his father, Daniel Mack in May 1881, Matthew, age three, along with his mother, Catherine and brother, Daniel, moved in with older brother, John Mack and his wife, Julia in New Tredegar, Glamorgan, Wales."

See: Mack Family Genealogy Forum on See also: Surname change from McDermot to Mack

Under the surname Mack, Irish Ancestors notes:

Quite numerous: Belfast area, Dublin etc. A surname arising from an abbreviated "Mac" name. It is common to use Mack for names like Mac Namara and Mac Inerney.

Cornelius McGillicuddy (December 22, 1862–February 8, 1956), better known as Connie Mack, was an American professional baseball player, manager, and team owner. He was the longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history. He managed the Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons of play before retiring at age 87 following the 1950 season. He was born in East Brookfield, Massachusetts, to Irish immigrants, Michael McGillicuddy and Mary McKillop. He did not have a middle name, but many accounts erroneously give him the middle name "Alexander"—probably because his son Cornelius McGillicuddy Jr. took Alexander as his confirmation name. Mack's grandson Connie Mack III was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida from 1983 to 1989 and the United States Senate from 1989 to 2001, and great-grandson Connie Mack IV was elected to the House from Florida's 14th Congressional District. Wikipedia. McGillicuddy supposedly started using the professional name Mack Because McGillicuddy was too long a name for some scoreboards.

At least one McGough family has morphed into a Mack family. Listed in the 1930 census return of Manhattan (District 1012), New York City, is John E. Mack, age 38, married at age 30, born in Rhode Island to a father born in Rhode Island and a mother born in Massachusetts, a secretary in a manufacutring company, living on West 141st Street (roll 1577, page 4B, line 87). With him was his wife Mary Mack, age 28, married at age 21, born in Canada to parents born in Canada, immigrated in 1917, naturalized; and two children, both born in New York: Jack E. Mack (son), age 6 years, 3 months, and Patricia Mack (daughter), age 4 years, 1 month. John E. Mack was born John Eugene McGough in Providence, Rhode Island, on August 26, 1891. He was the son of Thomas F. McGough and Margaret E. McGough. Thomas F. McGue, age 6 (and his brother John McGue, age 4) are listed with their parents, Owen and Ann McGue, in the 1860 census of North Providence (Pawtucket P.O.). He is listed as Thomas McGough, age 17, with his parents Owen and Ann McGough in the 1870 census of North Providence. Thomas McGough married Margaret E. Lane, on February 8, 1881. Rhode Island Marriages, 1636–1930 on See my page: McGoughs and McGeoughs in Rhode IslandMcGoughs and McGeoughs in Rhode Island.

Ted Mack (February 12, 1904, Greeley, Colorado–July 12, 1976, North Tarrytown, New York), born William Edward Maguiness, was the host of Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour on radio and television. In the late 1920s clarinetist Mack formed a dance band, under his real name. A nightclub owner didn't like how "Edward Maguiness" looked on his marquee, so he impulsively changed the bandleader's name to the shorter and snappier "Ted Mack." The name stuck. (Wikipedia).

Lonnie Mack (born Lonnie McIntosh, 18 July 1941, Dearborn County, Indiana) is a rock and blues guitarist. (Wikipedia).

Charles W. McCarty was a celebrated ventriloquist, magician and punchman. He was born on May 15, 1861, in Boston, Massachusetts, to immigrants from County Cork, Ireland. As Professor Charles Mack, he performed throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania from the 1890s through the 1920's. See: Professor Charles Mack's Scrapbook.

"Given the discriminatory climate of the time, 'No Irish Need Apply' signs were a fact of life in 19th century Boston, Mr. McCarty became Professor Charles Mack ..." An American Punchman, 1861–1934 by Donald Charles O'Keeffe

"Two very telling instances of our changing attitudes about race are revealed in the Prof. Mack Scrapbook. ... Charles McCarty changed his name to Charles Mack because of the strong anti-Irish feelings at the time. The acronym 'NINA' widely used in New England at the turn of the century meant “no Irish need apply.” Censorship & Racism: Then and Now.

The surname Mack is often not of Celtic origin. Mack is more often German. The 1910 census of Chicago, Cook county, Illinois, lists Theodore Mack, age 60, born in Massachusetts to parents born in Germany, with his German born wife, Katie, age 60, son Charles Mack, age 38, born in Illinois, and Charles' wife of one year, Carrie. Theodore Mack and Charles Mack were both listed as wood carvers, living at 1137 Monroe Street, as was Theodore's brother, age 58, who was living with them. Theodore and Katie had been married 39 years. She was the mother of 3 children, 1 of whom was living. (T-624, roll 262, page 9A, line 44). Theodore's parents were Daniel and Johanna Mack, both born in Germany, who were listed in the 1850 census of Plymouth, Plymouth county, Massachusetts, as ages 40 and 22 respectively, with their 9 month old son, Theodore. (M-432, roll 333, page 131, line 29). By 1860, the Daniel Mack family had moved to Chicago. He is listed in the 1860 census of Cook county as age 52, a laborer, born in Baden. Johanna is listed as age 32, born in Baden. Theodore is listed as age 11, born in Massachusetts, and his brother, "Lewis." age age 9, born in Massachusetts. (M-432, roll 333, page 131, line 31). By January 9, 1915, the letterhead of the Mack's wood carving business read

Telephone Harrison 6097

Theodore Mack & Son

Ventriloquial Figures Novelty Advertising Figures Punch Figures Marionettes Talking Dolls doll Racks Magicians CabinetsStage Properties and Theatrical Wood Carving

619-621 S. Clinton St.


Theo. Mack & Son—The Charlie McCarthy Connection.

The letter set out above is from the wood carver, Charles Mack, son of Theodore Mack, to Charles Mack (McCarty), the punch-and-judy man discussed in the previous paragraph of this page. In about 1922, Charles Mack, the wood carver, carved an early version of Charlie McCarthy for the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Bergen originally named his dummy after the wood carver—Charlie Mack. When, in early 1936, Bergen changed the original character of his dummy from a rough Irish newsboy to a monocled sophisticate complete with top hat, white tie, and tails, he changed the name of the dummy from Charlie Mack to Charlie McCarthy. See: Vaudeville, Old & New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America by Frank Cullen, Florence Hackman, Donald McNeilly (published by Routledge, 2007, ISBN 0415938538, 9780415938532), page 92.

Ellis Island Names

On the Ellis Island website (American Family Immigration History Center), I found a family indexed under McGoughe who were definitely McGoughs. McGoughs will also be found under M'Gough, which is indexed as Mgough. See: Sinking of the Titanic—James and George McGough Man Lifeboats. The Ellis Island website furnishes this list of other names in their data base who might be McGoughs, in this order, and in descending rank of possibilities:

Mccough, Mcgouch, Mcgoughe, Mckough, Mccouch, Mcgaugh, Mcgeugh, Mcgooch, Mccaugh, Mccouche, Mccouke, Mcgeogh, Mcgogh, Mcgooke, Mcgugh, Mckeugh, Mckhugh, Mcough, Mgough, Mccauch, Mccooke, Mcgeoch, Mcgeough, Mcghough, Mcgoch, Mcgrough, Mckeogh, Mckugh, Mcaugh, Mcceough.

A classic case is that of Bernard McGeough, a U.S. Citizen, returning from a visit to Ireland aboard the Mauretania on July 8, 1910. The ship's manifest originally listed him as "Gough." This is written over by "McGeogh." Bernard was 67 years old, a farmer, married, whose final destination was Kilkenny, Minnesota. In the Ellis Island index, his name appears as Bernard McG ...och, which must be entered as Mcgoch in the search box. This is the Bernard McGeough listed in the 1900 census of Minnesota, Rice County, Shieldsville township, where he is (mistakenly) shown as age 43, born in Ireland in March, 1857, a farmer who was naturalized in Pennsylvania in 1872, and who had been married for 28 years to Mary A. McGough, who was born in New York to Irish parents. Living with them were 8 children, all born in Minnesota. The oldest of these children was their son, Francis J. McGeough, 25 years old, born in October of 1874, a farm laborer. Shieldsville was an Irish colony in Rice County, Minnesota, named after General James Shields, the Irish hero of the Mexican War. See Immigrants on the Land: Irish Rural Settlement in Nineteenth Century Minnesota and New South Wales by Malcom Campbell. See also Meet Shieldsville—The Story of St. Patrick's Parish, Shieldsville MN (Rice County), by Mary L. Hagerty (Frgn.IR.IM02) on the web page of the Irish Genealogical Society, Int'l (IGSI). See the IGSI Online Card Catalog.

Probable Misspellings

My great-grandfather, John McGough, was shown as John McGeoy on his marriage records, John McGrough in his naturalization records, and John McGue in the Wisconsin federal census of 1860 and in several directories of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. See my web pages McGoughs and McGues in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1856–1906 and McGoughs and McGues in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the 1800s.

The Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763 - 1900 (citing volume 5, page 358, of the records) shows a marriage of Barnard McCongh. The correct spelling is McGough. See John and Peter McGough—Two Brothers in Jo Daviess County, Illinois.

The name of Joshua McGeough (sometimes McGough) is also spelled as McGraugh, McGeaugh, and McGeogh in an inventory in PRONI of Maps of County Armagh, Down, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

In 1800, Thomas McGough lived in the fifth district of Harford county, Maryland. His parents were Miles and Elizabeth Spencer McGough. The 1800 census of Harford County spelled Thomas' surname as Megeough, and is indexed by as Thomas McGeough. The surnames of both Thomas and his mother, Elizabeth, are spelled McGeaugh in a deed of land in Harford County, Maryland, dated December 19, 1799. The same document names a John McGeough, probably James' brother. When the land was sold to John DeMoss in 1803, Thomas' name appears in the deed first as McGeaugh, then as McGough. Thomas moved to Cambria County, Conemaugh township, Pennsylvania, about the time he sold the land. In tax lists and other records there, including the 1810 census, his name was consistently spelled McGough, as it was later in Ohio. See my page McGoughs in Pre-Revolutionary America: Miles and Elizabeth Spencer McGough, and Thomas McGough under O'Neill Ancestry on

Thomas McGough's father was Miles McGough. In transactions involving the same land in Harford County, Maryland, between 1752 and 1783, Miles' surname is spelled McGaugh and McGeaugh, as well as McGough. Other Maryland records show his name as McGaw. In other real estate papers, the surname is also spelled McGaugh, McGaw, McGeau, McGouhh, Megaugh, Megough, and Megeough. Several variations are often used in the same documents. See: Miles McGough and Elizabeth (Spencer) and John McGough and Thomas McGough on the O'Neill Ancestry website. Miles McGeaugh is listed as a signer of an organization document of the Association of Freemen, 1776, in Deer Creek Upper Hundred, Harford County, Maryland. This was Miles McGough.

"Nicholas McGeaugh (McGaw)" was enlisted as a private in the Revolutionary Army by Lieutenant Smith on July 15, 1776. Rolls & Other Records of Service, Flying Camp Papers, page 57.

Julia Moore McGough, wife of Barney McGough, died in Chicago on November 30, 1906. The obituary in the Chicago Tribune of December 2, 1906, spelled her name correctly, but the issue of December 4, 1906, showed a burial certificate issued for Julia McCaugh.

Patrick Goygh is recorded as being in possession of five townlands in the parish of Kilkeel in county Down in 1540 (Rentals & Surveys Down 76). This is probably a form of McGough. See: Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea— Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down.

Joan T. Sullivan posted a message on the McGeough Genealogy Forum on April 29, 1999, saying that the manifest of the steamer Constitution from Panama ("no Canal in those days so an overland journey had to be made from the east coast") that arrived in San Francisco on August 8, 1851, listed a "Thomas McGhough (sic)!!!" She says: "Very interesting. To me, obviously a McGeough. No name like it elsewhere. I checked the Rootsweb's Surname Helper. See L. Rasmussen's Books: San Francisco Passenger Ships, volume 2, pages 187-8."

Peter McGeoagh and Mary (Hilary?) Brines of Tattybrack are shown as the parents of Anne McGeoagh, baptized on November 28, 1870, by the records of the Catholic parish of Aughnamullen West. This almost certainly should be McGough.

"My grandfather's death cert. 1931 said mother's maiden name was Ann McGough but there were very different variations ie. McGuigan...McGonghan on other records." CoTyroneIreland-L Archives.

The surname of seaman Francis J. V. McGeough is also indexed as: McCeough, McGeouge, and McGrough. Henry Joseph McGough appears on a ship's manifest as H. J. McHough. See McGough Seamen—Ellis Island.

The Thomas McHough who was listed as a freeholder in 1822 in the townland of Dowdallshill, in the civil parish of Dundalk about 2 1/2 kilometers north by northeast of the center of the town of Dundalk, county Louth, Ireland, was probably Thomas McGough. See McGoughs, McGeoughs and McGoughs in County Louth.

"James McGeongh 39 Male Laborer" on the passenger list of the ship European that arrived in New York from Liverpool on May 4, 1842, should probably be James McGeough.

"Thos. McGeoyck 21 M Laborer Ireland" was a steerage passenger aboard the Montana when it arrived in New York from Liverpool on April 16, 1878.

Hugh McGorgh, a 17 year old laborer, arrived on December 16, 1848, in New York City aboard The Charlotte. With him was Mary McGorgh, age 22, apparently his sister.

"John McGoe 21 male Labourer Ireland" was a passenger aboard the Tennessee when it arrived in Boston from Liverpool on January 27, 1847.

"John Magus 40 Male Laborer Ireland Rhode Island 1 package luggage," on the passenger list of the ship Queen of the West that arrived in New York from Liverpool on December 11, 1846, may have been John McGough.

William McGaugh purchased land in Davidson, County, Tennessee in 1788. Early records spell the family name as McGaioch, later as McGaugh.

Pat McGeugh, age 28, a stonecutter born in Ireland, is listed on the manifest of the George Washington that arrived in New York from Liverpool on April 20, 1840.

Michelle McGoff called to my attention this entry in the Civil War rosters:

MAGHU, Andrew, b. 1847 Canada, private, 193 NYV, no company listed, enlisted Syracuse, NY Mar. 15, 1865, mustered in Mar. 15, 1865, single, laborer, no further information.

And what can be made of this entry: McGeorggh, ???; Gender: Male; Age: 30; Country of Origin: Ireland; Family Number: 193748; Ship Name: Amelia; Port of Departure: Belfast; Port of Arrival: Philadelphia; Arrival Date: May 03, 1825. (Passenger and Immigration Lists: Philadelphia, 1800-1850; National Archives Series No.: 425; Microfilm Number: 36).

There was a John McGurrah and family aboard the Charles Henry that sailed from Newry to New York, arriving on May 23, 1811. A Patrick McGeragh, age 22, a farmer from Londonderry, arrived in New York aboard the American on May 9, 1803.


At the top of the main stairway in the Ulster Reform Club in Belfast is a larger than life painting of Robert McGeagh who, according to the brass plaque, was president of the club in 1890. I was told that he had been a big magoo in the linen industry. At a dinner there, of good Irish lamb stew, on August 31, 1999, at a genealogical conference sponsored by the Ulster Historical Foundation, I wondered aloud whether there could be a relationship between McGeagh and McGough. None of those present thought that there was the remotest possibility. I was dressed casually, however, and was not wearing a tie with my rumpled jacket, in contrast to the formal attire of the imposing Robert McGeagh in the painting. If I had thought of it, I might have pointed out that the townland of Tullymagough in the civil parish of Dromore in county Tyrone was, in 1835, called Tully McGeagh, and Ballymageogh in the civil parish of Kilkeel in county Down was, as early as 1613, called Ballymcgoagh, and, in 1815, Ballymegaugh. See Origin of the Surname McGough under the headings Ballymageogh and Tullymagough, and Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea—Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down.

McGeagh is a name that was limited in the 1860s to Belfast city, Tyrone and Derry. It is derived from Eachaidh, a horseman, which is a form of Eochaidh, also a horseman, from which McGough is derived. See Origins of the Surname McGough.

McGahey, McGaughey, McGahuey

Other Irish family names, not related to McGough, have gone through similar permutations in the United States. For example, in The Family History of William McGaughey and Prepare Clark, 1762–1990 (original printing by Georgia N. Brakmo in 1951; second printing by R. Wayne McGahuey on December 3, 1990; Family History Library US/CAN 929.273 M172mr), the authors trace their surname in the United States from McGahey (and McGahee) to McGaughey and McGahuey, with additional spellings of McGauhey and McGhuey (and perhaps McGeah), among others. For a copy of this text on the Internet, see: Threads Thru Time (Original printing by Georgia N. Brakmo © 1951; Update by R. Wayne McGahuey © 1990) and, for a Microsoft word copy, go to <>.

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Updated April 27, 2013  
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