Select Doherty Surname Genealogy

The Irish O'Doherty is an anlgicized form of the Old Gaelic O'Dochartaigh, descendant of Dochartach a personal byname having the rather strange meaning of "destroyer."   Doherty and variants are used today.  The spellings O'Doherty and Doherty are to be found in Ireland today, Docherty in Scotland, and Dougherty and Daugherty in America. 

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Select Doherty Ancestry

Ireland.  The Dohertys were an Irish sept that originated in the barony of Raphoe in county Donegal on the west coast of Ireland.  By the 14th century the O'Dochartaigh chiefs had extended their territory till they became the lords of Inishowen (Inis Eoghain) on the Inishowen Peninsula.  Their line started with Donal Mori O’Dochartaigh, born at Buncrana around 1387.  In 1540 they reached agreement with the English that the O'Dochartaigh would not cross the river Foyle if the British would stay out of Inishowen.

The power of the O'Dohertys was greatly reduced following the ill-timed rebellion of 1608 against the English, led by Sir Cahir O'Doherty.

"After having been insulted by the Governor of Derry Sir Cahir O'Doherty rallied his troops, marched south, and sacked Derry.  The Governor of Derry paid for his insult with his life.  But then Cahir was forced to withdraw and some months later he was killed."

Sir Cahir’s sister Rosa had already departed Ireland in 1607 in the Flight of the Earls.  She was the only clan member who was able to make this escape.

O'Doherty's Buncrana castle on Inishowen was taken and occupied by the English and the O'Dohertys lost their lands.  In 1790 the remaining O'Doherty descendants departed for Spain.  Other Dohertys were also departing - to Scotland or to England or further afield to America. 

Today there are Doherty families in many parts of Ireland.  But the main concentration remains Donegal and the vicinity of Derry.  Dohertys have been prominent in recent years in the IRA.

England and Scotland.  The Docherty spelling took root in Scotland.  Dochertys in Scotland were mainly to be found in and around Glasgow.  In Lancashire the spelling was Doherty or Docherty or sometimes Dougherty.

America.  America has Dohertys, Doughertys, and Daughertys.  The Daughertys appear to have been the early arrivals, coming before 1800; the Doughertys after 1800. 

James Daugherty from Donegal, for instance, came to Virginia in the 1780’s.  His grandson Hiram, in search of plentiful land, moved to Pike county, Kentucky in the 1830’s.  A Daugherty family had settled in Beaver county, Pennsylvania in the 1790’s.  Edward Black Daugherty of this family, later a prominent jurist, gave his name to the Daugherty township there.  Meanwhile Charles Dougherty was a Georgia militia captain in the 1790’s, his son Charles another distinguished jurist after whom Dougherty county in Georgia was named

Other spellings to be found in America have been Darity, Daughtry and Daughtrey, mainly in the South.

Canada.  Protestant Doughertys and Catholic Dohertys came to Canada in the first half of the 19th century:
  • various Doughertys, believed Protestant from county Down, came to New Brunswick and settled in Woodstock in Carleton county, starting in 1822.  Benjamin Dougherty, his wife Sarah and five children, arrived there in 1839.  
  • Denis and Bridget Doherty from Donegal came to Quebec around the year 1830 and settled in the Irish Catholic community of North Onslow.  They moved to Niles, Ohio with most of their family in 1864.  
  • various Doherty families from Ballyporeen parish in Tipperary came to the Irish settlement at Gores Landing in Marion county, Ontario in 1847.  They were listed as indigent families arriving at the height of the famine.
  • while John Dougherty and his family came in 1849 from Antrim, also escaping the potato famine, and settled in the Ottawa valley. 
Australia and New Zealand.  Dougherty and Doherty also came to Australia. 

The most interesting Dougherty was George Dougherty, born in Fermanagh and a member of the famous Enniskillen Dragoons in his younger years.  However, he deserted his post on several occasions and was finally, in 1849, court martialed and transported to Australia. 

After gaining his freedom there six years later, George settled in Singleton, NSW where he became engaged in lengthy land disputes, all the more troublesome because he himself was illiterate.  Finally in 1887 he won his case. However, he was old and bedridden by this time and had not long to savor his victory.

Kevin O’Doherty from Dublin, a member of the Young Ireland party, was arrested on political grounds in 1848 and transported to Australia.  He was later pardoned, studied medicine, moved to Brisbane, and became one of its leading medical practitioners.  He died there in 1905. h
is wife and a daughter surviving him.  A fund was raised by public subscription to provide for his widow Mary Anne, a poet of Irish patriotic verse. 

Daniel Dougherty, a Catholic born in New Orleans in 1804 when it was still under French rule, became a whaler and ended up with his family in 1838 in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  They eventually settled in Wellington where Daniel became a pilot master.  His wife Sarah and daughter Ellen, who became a nurse, survived him

Select Doherty Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Doherty Names

Sir Cahir O'Doherty
led the ill-timed rebellion of 1608 against the Governor of Derry and paid for it with his life..
John Doherty from Buncrana in county Donegal was a trade union activist and factory reformer in early 19th century Manchester.
Eddie Doherty was a renowned American newspaper reporter of the 1920's and 30's.  He and his third wife Catherine started the Madonna House Apostolate in Canada in 1947.
John Doherty, born in Donegal into a travelling clan, was a highly acclaimed Irish folk fiddler.  He was mainly active from the 1950's to the 1970's.
Tommy Docherty, known as "the Doc," was a well-known Scottish footballer and football manager.
Moya Doherty is the co-founder of the theatrical phenomenon Riverdance.

Select Doherty Today
  • 38,000 in the UK (most numerous in Belfast)
  • 36,000 in America (most numerous in Massachusetts) 
  • 37,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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