Duignan family genealogy

Of Walsall, England

THIS name was formerly Duigenan, one of the anglicised forms of the Irish O'Duibhgenain[1] ("dubh:" Irish, black or dark; "gen," a sword or wound; "an," one who), an ancient celebrated family in Ireland. The O'Duigenans were located at Kilronan, in the northern division of the county Roscommon; and afterwards were landed proprietors[2] in the parish of Dromleas, barony of Dromaheare, county Leitrim, down to the Cromwellian Confiscations. They are especially celebrated in the Irish annals for their devotion to the history and literature of their country.

In 1339, the Church of Kilronan was begun by Ferrall Muinach O'Duigenan. It stood "over" Lough Meelagh, and has a deep national interest; as, in a vault, close to the ruins, erected for the family of MacDermott Roe, were deposited the earthly remains of the once celebrated Carolan.

At the close of the fourteenth century, Manus O'Duigenan was engaged in drawing up a considerable portion of the Book of Ballymote. Subsequently a Chronicle was compiled which, deriving its title from the locality of this family, was called the Book of Kilronan, or, sometimes the Book of the O'Duigenans. That Book was one of the Chronicles from which the Four Masters (one of whom was Cucoigcriche or Peregrine O'Duigenan) collected their great work in 1632.

The Four Masters record, as might be expected, numerous obits of the O'Duigenan family; each of whom is commemorated as a learned historian or philosopher.

In 1588, Duffy O'Duigenan wrote a history of the Sept of the O'Donnells.

Patrick Duigenan, LL.D.,[3] who was M.P. for the Borough of Old Leighlin, in the Irish Parliament of 1797, was a member of this family. That Patrick Duigenan was one of the King's Counsel, Advocate-General of the Admiralty, Judge of the Prerogative Court, Professor of Common Law in the Dublin University, Vicar-General of Dublin, a Doctor of Laws, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Meath and Leighlin and Ferns, Advocate in the Ecclesiastical Courts, etc.

In O'Clery's Genealogies the pedigree of the family is recorded down to John Ballach O'Dugenan, who was Chief of his name, when the family was dispossessed of their Kilronan patrimony; but, from his time down to the Cromwellian Confiscations, the family genealogy is not forthcoming. We have therefore been able to trace only one branch of the family; namely, that descended from:

1. John Duigenan, of Ardagh, in county Longford, who had:

2. John, who was master of the Grammar School, at Walsall, in Staffordshire, and d. there in 1845, leaving an only surviving son, and three daughters:

I. Henry Duignan, of whom presently.

I. Mary, who m. Mr. Thomas Franklin, of Walsall.

II. Emma, who m. Mr. William Totly, of Walsall.

III. Ann, who m. Mr. William Holden, of Walsall.

3. Henry Duignan: son of John; d. at Walsall, in 1873, and was buried at Rushall, leaving his only child:

4. William Henry Duignan (living in 1883) of Rushall Hall, near Walsall, who was twice m.: first, in 1850, to Mary, dau. of William Minors, Esq., of Fisherwick, in Staffordshire, and by her had three children:

I. Florence-Mary, the wife of George Rose, M.A; living in 1883.

I. Ernest-Henry.

II. George-Stubbs.

The second wife of William-Henry Duignan was Jenny, dau. of Herr J. B. Petersen, of Stockholm, whom he there m. in 1868, and by whom he has three children (living in 1883):

III. Bernard.

IV. Carl.

V. Oscar.

5. Ernest-Henry Duignan: son of William-Henry; he and his brother George-Stubbs Duignan living in 1883.


[1] O' Duibhgenain: Other authorities give the name, in Irish, as O'Doighnain ("doigh:" Irish, hope; Gr. "do-keo," to think)—See the "Dinan" pedigree.

[2] Proprietors: See the Paper in the Appendix of our Irish Landed Gentry, headed "Books of Survey and Distribution;" under the barony of Dromaheare, and county of Leitrim.

[3] Duigenan: Doctor Patrick Duigenan was twice married: his first wife was a Miss Cusack; his second, a Miss Heppenstal. This name reminds us of a Lieutenant Heppenstal, who, in 1798, acquired the sirname of the "Walking Gallows," from the following circumstance: "Heppenstal," writes Sir Jonah Barrington, "was a remarkably tall, robust man, and had a habit of expertly executing straggling Rebels, when he happened to meet them, by twisting his own cravat round their necks, then throwing it over his own brawny shoulder, and so trotting about at a smart pace, with the Rebel dangling at his back, and choking gradually till he was totally defunct, which generally happened before the Lieutenant was tired of his amusement. This ingenious contrivance, and some others nearly as expert, has not been practised in any other part of the world as yet discovered; but it was the humour of the year 1798, in Ireland, during martial law, and was not discountenanced by any military, or countermanded by any municipal authority; nor was its legality ever investigated or called in question by any Court of Justice.—At that time Lord Clare was Chancellor."—See Vol. II. of Barrington's Historic Memoirs of Ireland.