Part of the Duggan Clan? Your Family History, Explained


The last name “Duggan” is one of the 3,000 or so most popular surnames in the United States. That doesn’t sound very popular, but the U.S. is a big place, which means there are about 10,000 Americans — give or take — with this particular surname.

Add in variations on “Duggan” — Dugan, Dougan, Douggan, and O’Duggan, among others — and you’ve got thousands more people with similar names.

Duggans Around the World

Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, the last name “Duggan” is even more popular. It’s estimated that more than 6,000 Australians share this last name, far more on a population-adjusted basis than the United States. Among all Australian last names, Duggan is around the 600th most popular.

Duggan is nearly as popular in tiny New Zealand, where about 1,000 Kiwis share the name. The United Kingdom has nearly 10,000 Duggans, many of whom live in Northern Ireland. Other countries have smaller shares of Duggans, but hey — every person counts.

Linguistic Origins of the Duggan Family Name

Where did all those Duggans come from? The one-word answer is “Ireland,” but the full story is a bit more complicated.

The name “Duggan” is a derivative of the old Gaelic name “O Dubhaigan.” Unlike some common Irish names, the exact meaning of “O Dubhaigan” has been lost to the mists of time — we know that “dubh” means “black” in Irish, but we aren’t sure what the rest of the word means. It’s possible that it’s a modification of an earlier name, possibly in an archaic form of Gaelic or even a predecessor tongue.

Further complicating the linguistic history of the Duggan clan is the fact that there’s no evidence of standardized spelling for the name (or any Irish name) before the 19th century. Families passed the name down, of course, but poor recordkeeping meant that local officials simply recorded the name as they heard it — leading not only to the various spellings that persist today but to more “out there” early spellings like “Dewgan,” “Deegan,” and “Deugan.”

Early History of the Duggan Clan

People with the last name O Dubhaigan (Duggan) have lived in Ireland since at least the 14th century.

The first records come out of County Clare, in the west of Ireland. There, the name was associated with local royalty, and apparently the bloodline was traceable from Fergus the Great — one of the most important chieftains of medieval Ireland. The family name was also associated with King Ir, who ruled over parts of Counties Tipperary, Waterford, and Cork.

An apparently separate origin for the name Duggan — though it’s more likely that poor recordkeeping obscures the relation — occurs on the eastern part of the island, in counties Clare and Roscommon. The Duggans in this part of Ireland were notable enough to secure “naming rights” for the town of Ballyduggan, in the Loghrea area.

The Duggan Diaspora: Movin’ on Out (of Ireland)

Along with millions of other people from Ireland and northern Europe, members of the extended Duggan family sought greener pastures elsewhere in the English-speaking world beginning in the early 19th century. By this time, the Duggan name was common not only in Ireland but in Scotland and England too; many who landed in North America or Down Under came from somewhere other than Ireland.

Irish migration in particular was spurred by the Great Potato Famine, which devastated the island’s agricultural economy and put countless families on the brink of starvation. Many felt they had no choice but to leave for the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. 

People named Duggan turned up outside the British Isles even before the potato famine. Local records show an Eliz Duggan living in Virginia from about 1705 and a Catherine Duggan living in Philadelphia from about 1745, for example.

But the famine saw a surge of new arrivals, especially in North America, where nearly 250,000 Irish immigrants arrived in 1847 alone. Duggans who turned up in North America around this time include Helen, Denis, and Ellen, all of whom first appear in New York-area records in 1850.

North of the border, Duggans had established a foothold in the Canadian Maritimes by 1830, perhaps because of the relatively short distance to Ireland and the region’s cultural affinity with the British Isles (“Nova Scotia” is latin for “New Scotland,” after all). We have records of a John, Patrick, Timothy, and James Duggan arriving in Nova Scotia between 1810 and 1830, for example.

Down under, Australia and New Zealand saw considerable Duggan migration during the first half of the 19th century as well. In keeping with its reputation as a penal colony, Australia welcomed several Duggans convicted of property crimes in England: a Walter Duggan, a Margaret Duggan, and a William Duggan, all of whom were permanently banished to Australia between 1800 and 1840. Walter settled in remote Tasmania, while Margaret and William took up residence in New South Wales, near Sydney.

Across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, newly arrived Duggans were free as soon as they touched dry land. Though a relative trickle — New Zealand’s non-Maori population remained low during the 19th century — these Duggans were important to the island’s economic development. Many were farmers or merchants who came to seek opportunity; several came from Australia, whose coastal cities were increasingly crowded by the 1850s.

Duggans Throughout History

Most historical Duggans lived in relative obscurity — working, raising families, and passing on without much fanfare. But a few rose to professional prominence or fame in their own day; others had a front-row seat to major historical events (sometimes with tragic results).

One of the most professionally renowned Duggans was Dr. David Duggan, one of the first medical providers in Newfoundland.

Other Duggans were notable for surviving deadly shipwrecks, including the Lusitania (which was torpedoed during World War I) and the Empress of Ireland.

Some others weren’t so lucky. Several Duggans died in the great Halifax Explosion of 1917, when an explosives-laden ship caught fire and exploded in the Canadian city’s harbor. This was the largest manmade explosion to date — the equivalent of a 3-kiloton nuclear bomb.

How Your Name Can Affect Your Personality

For better or for worse, your name has shaped your life in countless ways. Since your name is typically the first thing people will learn about you, it will inevitably influence how others perceive you. So, how does this affect your personality? 

While many factors go into shaping an individual, their name is always the least expected factor that truly impacts a person’s personality. Of course, your name is not the largest contributor to your personality, but it plays a surprisingly large role.

So, something as simple as the letter that your name begins with could have played a role in how you view the world, and thus how your personality developed.

This month’s post explores some aspects of names that tend to affect how the person behaves as an individual. These characteristics of names have been directly linked to certain behaviors, according to various studies. 

Your Upbringing

When your parents first named you, they likely handpicked the name because it meant something to them. This, in turn, can be a good indication of how someone was raised. 

For example, culturally conservative parents may name their children traditional names that are appropriate to their way of life. In contrast, some progressive parents may opt to pick a more modern or unusual name for their child. 

So, for example, you could expect someone with a name like Kris Duggan to have been brought up in a fairly typical American or European household. Whereas someone named Maksim Chmerkovskiy is more likely to have been brought up outside of America — in this case, they were born and raised in Ukraine.

Now, your upbringing obviously plays a significant factor in shaping who you are as a person. So your name can be a good indication to others for what kind of person you may be.


Another surprising personality trait that could be linked to your name is your self-esteem. It’s pretty simple science: Those who experience positive interactions when sharing their name tend to have better self-esteem. Those who receive negative feedback when sharing their name pay think negatively of their name, and therefore themselves.

How someone perceives their name could occur in a variety of different ways. For example, if you have a long first name, it’s probably common for other people to misspell it. This could play a part in shaping an individual’s self-esteem. If people constantly mess up your name, you may view it as people dismissing or not paying proper attention to you or viewing you as not important enough to get your name right.  

Going back to our earlier example, an individual with the name of Kris Duggan would likely not experience people mispronouncing or misspelling his name. On the contrary, Maksim Chmerkovskiy would most certainly experience people misspelling and mispronouncing his name. 

Wrapping It Up

In short, your name does play a sizable factor in how you are perceived and how your own personality develops. That said, try not to focus too much on how your name impacts your personality, and instead focus on what you can do yourself.

Australian Real Estate Professional Chris Duggan

Chris Duggan is an Australian real estate professional based in Sydney, New South Wales. He currently wears two hats as Managing Director at Bright & Duggan Property Group and President at Strata Community Australia (New South Wales division). He has held a seat on the board of Strata Community Australia since 2011 and previously sat on the board of Institute of Strata Title Management from 2009 to 2011. 

Duggan is a passionate advocate for sustainable development in greater Sydney and an active member of the Sydney City Council Green Apartment Reference Group. Earlier in his career, he worked in development manager roles for Mirvac and Charter Hall. He has a bachelor’s degree in land economics from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Veteran Welder

Chris Duggan is a veteran welder with about 20 years of experience. Though based in his beloved Ireland, Duggan’s work has taken him around the world, a fact he’s quite proud of. Past oil and gas industry gigs found him working winters in Canada and Sweden, where subzero temperatures frustrate the already-delicate art of welding. Duggan also has international experience in the pharmaceutical industry. His welding specialties include two- and eight-inch pipes, gates, railings, farm equipment, and buildings, and he’s comfortable working solo or as part of a welding team. Originally from western Ireland, Duggan earned his welding credentials and took his first few jobs in the Cork region.

This Christopher Duggan is a Customs Specialist

Christopher Duggan is a duty manager (customs specialist) based in the United Kingdom. A diligent worker and a noted expert in his field, he enjoys educating exporters and importers about the confusing and contradictory array of rules and regulations they must follow to remain on the right side of the law. His work has taken on new urgency since the United Kingdom officially exited the European Union and normalized trade rules that counted as a principal perk of membership. Before finding his passion in customs work, Duggan worked as a customer service specialist for several well-known U.K. brands. He lives in southeast England today.

A Distinguished British Academic

Christopher Duggan was a distinguished British academic (a historian, to be precise) who researched and taught at the University of Oxford and the University of Reading for the balance of his career. Born in Kent, England, into a middle-class family, he attended the Westminster School before enrolling as an undergraduate at Oxford. He developed a keen interest in modern Italian history and chose to focus his career on the subject; he was eventually named Head of the School of Languages and European Studies at Reading. Duggan wrote several books on Italy in the 19th and 20th centuries, including Fascist Voices (2012), before his death in late 2015.

An American HR Professional

Kris Duggan is an American HR professional based in Orange County, California. Kris is a born and bred Californian with an engineering degree from the University of California Berkeley (the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, specifically) and an abiding love of sun, surf, and sand, the sort of person you’re just as likely to find catching a wave or exploring the trail than marking time at the office. Who can blame them? There are worse places in the world to settle down than southern California. And we’re pretty sure other Kris Duggans call the “OC” home too. Here’s hoping they’re living as well as our friend Kris.

Christopher Duggan – Nutrition and Global Health and Population at Harvard University

Christopher Duggan is a professor in the departments of Nutrition and Global Health and Population at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He focuses on four primary areas of study: nutritional management for acute and persistent diarrhea; definition of biomarkers of environmental enteric dysfunction; efforts to prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections using micronutrients; and “general aspects” of energy and protein metabolism in catabolic diseases. That’s right — he’s a smart cookie, and his work saves lives. Our man at Harvard has a B.A. from Dartmouth College, an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and an M.P.H from the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Chris Duggan is a Footballer?

Chris Duggan is a footballer (that’s soccer player for the Americans in the audience) of Scottish and Australian extraction. Born in Perth, Western Australia, he began his playing career at Queen’s Park, in Glasgow, before moving to Hamilton Academical, in South Lanarkshire. After a brief stint playing in the United States, he returned to Scotland and notched an impressive showing at Irvine Meadow. His adult professional career formally began in 2013; he played for Partick Thistle for three years (much of it spent on loan to other clubs) and then bounced around a bit before landing at East Fife in 2019.

Christopher Duggan – Happy to Assist Clients!

Christopher R. Duggan is a senior attorney in Dorsey’s Tax Group, where he advises clients on strategies to minimize exposure to sales and use, business and occupation, state and local income, and excise taxes. Mr. Duggan’s clients include international retailers and e-commerce companies that do business in hundreds of separate tax jurisdictions. It’s a complicated business, but someone has to do it!

Christopher R. Duggan is also a pro when it comes to federal tax issues, including credits like the New Markets Tax Credit. And he’s only too happy to assist clients with audits, appeals, and matters related to Section 1031 exchanges.